Atlanta Construction Workers Hit Union with Federal Charges After Being Slapped with $5,000 Retaliatory Fines for Nonunion Work
**Atlanta, GA (February 21, 2007)** — With free legal help from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, three local commercial insulation workers filed federal charges against a local union for refusing to honor their resignations from the union and threatening to fine them $5,000 each in retaliation for working for a nonunion employer.
Gonzalo Gomez, Ubaldo Romero, and Juan Perez, filed the parallel unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators Local 48 union. The workers seek an injunction blocking any illegal fine collection proceedings initiated by union officials in state court because Romero and Perez have already been served with notices demanding payment of the unlawful fines.
“Union officials are abusing their power over workers to prevent them from earning a good living,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “It is unconscionable for union bosses to attempt to drive workers into the poorhouse in vicious retaliation for pursuing work opportunities at nonunion job sites.”
Insulator union officials told workers at a recent union meeting that they could not resign their union memberships unless they did so “correctly,” but failed to explain exactly what this meant. When asked what this meant, union officials replied simply that the employees had failed to resign “correctly.”
Gomez and his coworkers cannot be lawfully fined because they resigned their union memberships (and thus were no longer subject to internal union rules) before returning to work – their right under the Foundation-supported *Patternmakers v. NLRB* 1986 U.S. Supreme Court decision. In *Patternmakers*, the High Court ruled workers may resign their full, formal union membership immediately, at any time, and without restrictions.
The NLRB is responsible for investigating the charges and will decide whether to prosecute the union for unfair labor practices.
Aside from violating the National Labor Relations Act, Insulator union officials’ actions also run contrary to the spirit of Georgia’s highly popular Right to Work law – on the books since 1947 – which prohibits forcing workers to join or pay dues to a union as a job condition.
The workers’ charges follow unfair labor practice charges filed recently by coworker Larry Blaisdell, who was similarly retaliated against by Insulator union officials for resigning his union membership and working for a nonunion employer.