Machinist Union Hit with Multiple Federal Charges for Retaliating Against Employees Who Inquired about their Rights
**Cleveland, OH (March 26, 2007)** – Two employees of Alcoa Company (NYSE: AA) filed a new round of federal unfair labor practice charges today to protect themselves from a pattern of ugly union intimidation at the company.
The employees at Alcoa’s trucking wheel manufacturing plant filed the charges with help from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys after officials from the International Union of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union repeatedly threatened them with unlawful discipline and termination simply for inquiring about their limited legal rights to refrain from formal union membership.
Today’s filing at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is the third related charge filed inside of one month. Alcoa employees Mark Bedenik and Matthew Slatten also detail in their charge how union officials kicked them out of the union in retaliation for inquiring about their rights to refrain from full union membership, but illegally continued to seize union dues from their paychecks.
After Bedenik and Slatten originally approached union representatives in February to inquire about their rights to refrain from formal union membership, union officials unlawfully misled them that full membership is a mandatory condition of employment and that resigning from the union would result in their termination. In retaliation for asserting their right to refrain from certain union activity, union officials effectively suspended six employees from eligibility for overtime work at the Alcoa facility for a period of up to one year. The employees responded with unfair labor practice charges filed at the NLRB.
“Union officials want workers to shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “These are just a few of many types of abuse faced by employees in states like Ohio with no Right to Work law to ensure that the payment of union dues is strictly voluntary.”
In a second related charge filed in early March, Foundation attorneys highlighted that union officials ordered Bedenik and Slatten to attend an IAM union internal kangaroo court held for the purpose of punishing them for inquiring about refraining from full union membership. Instructing the employees to attend the proceedings and only enter through the “rear entrance” of the building, union officials intended to fine and discipline the two for thinking about opposing the union. The employees chose not to show up for their “trial.”
Under the Foundation-won *Communication Workers of America v. Beck* decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employees laboring under compulsory unionism contracts are entitled to resign from formal union membership and withhold forced dues for everything except the documented cost of monopoly bargaining. However, if union officials expel a union member for any reason other than a failure to pay dues, they are not entitled to collect *any dues whatsoever* from such persons.