**Atlanta, GA (April 5, 2007)** — Facing an embarrassing prosecution for their ugly retaliation against independent-minded workers, union officials quickly backtracked and settled federal unfair labor practice charges filed by four employees with free legal help from the National Right to Work Foundation.
The four local commercial insulation workers filed federal charges against International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators Local 48 (IAHFI) with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for refusing to honor their resignations from the union and threatening to fine them $5,000 each in retaliation for choosing to work for a nonunion employer. In fact, union officials filed state court lawsuits against the three non-English speaking employees (Gonzalo Gomez, Ubaldo Romero, and Juan Perez) to collect the unlawful fines.
Under federal law, workers who resign from union membership cannot be lawfully fined by a union – even if the union maintains a formal rule governing the situation, which it did not in this case. In Foundation-supported *Patternmakers v. NLRB* (1984) U.S. Supreme Court decision, the High Court ruled workers may resign their formal union membership immediately, at any time, and without restrictions.
When the four employees inquired about how to exercise their right to resign their union memberships at a recent union meeting, union officials told the workers that they could not resign unless they did so “correctly,” but failed to explain exactly what this meant. When asked later what this meant, union officials replied simply that the employees had failed to resign “correctly.”
Facing a probable prosecution because the fines had no basis even in internal union rules, union officials chose to settle the charges by rescinding the illegal fines and recognizing the workers’ union resignations. Additionally, union officials will be required to post notices at all Atlanta-area construction sites where the union is the monopoly bargaining agent to inform other employees of their rights. The union will also refund $250 plus interest to the fourth worker, Larry Blaisdell, who had been told to pay the money in order to appeal the illegal fine in the internal union kangaroo court.
“Union officials tried to bully workers who simply wanted to support their families by working for one of the many, good non-union employers in Georgia,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “It is a shame that legal action was necessary just to get union bosses to stop violating the rights of the very workers they claim to ‘represent.’”
Union officials’ actions also violated 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.