Safeway Employee Hits Butte-Based UFCW Union with Federal Charges for Illegal Threats and Dues Seizures
**Butte, MT (April 25, 2007)** – A local employee of Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY) filed federal charges against the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 4 union to protect himself and his coworkers from illegal seizures of forced union dues from their paychecks.
Gerald Rasmussen, a meatcutter at the Polson Safeway, filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with help from attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. The charges cite that UFCW Local 4 union officials are attempting to enforce a compulsory unionism clause requiring employees to join or pay dues to the union or be fired from their jobs, despite a formal employee election recently stripping them of their forced unionism privileges.
All 34 Safeway employees participated in the NLRB-supervised deauthorization election – a secret ballot vote that gives employees the right to eliminate the compulsory dues clause from a monopoly bargaining contract. However, emboldened by the fact the Montana is not yet a Right to Work state, UFCW Local 4 union officials are challenging the election results and continue to claim that Rasmussen and his coworkers must join or pay dues to the union or they could be fired.
After learning of his right to resign from formal union membership from sources independent of UFCW Local 4, Rasmussen and other employees sent letters to union officials resigning from formal union membership.
In response, UFCW union officials rejected the employees’ requests and invented their own bogus and illegal rules, claiming that the grocery employees’ letters were unacceptable because they were not notarized, they were not sent by certified mail in separate envelopes, and were not accompanied by copies of the NLRB decisions and Supreme Court rulings. Additionally, union officials never provided any of the legally-mandated financial disclosure statements to the Safeway employees.
“Union officials have demanded that these employees shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “In states like Montana where there is no Right to Work law to ensure that payment of union dues is strictly voluntary, union officials commonly trample the rights of employees to keep their coffers
In 1988, Foundation attorneys argued and won Communication Workers of America v. Beck, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employees are entitled to resign from formal union membership and cannot be forced to pay for costs unrelated to collective bargaining, such as union political activity or organizing. The decision also requires union officials to provide employees with verified financial disclosure of union expenditures, so that employees can cut off the seizure of forced union dues used for such activities.