ESPN/ABC Cameraman Challenges Pervasive Entertainment Industry Practice of Illegally Forcing Daily-Hires into Union Ranks
**Charlotte, NC (May 9, 2007)** – An ESPN television cameraman, occasionally employed as a “daily hire” for the Walt Disney Company (ABC), has filed federal charges against a union challenging the pervasive practice in the entertainment industry of forcing union membership on part-time and freelance independent contractors. The cameraman also alleges union officials unlawfully threatened to have him fired for refusing to pay thousands of dollars in compulsory union dues.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys helped Michael Duke filed the charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after demands from National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) Local 31 officials that he join the union, pay a $2,905 “initiation fee,” pay back dues, and authorize union officials to automatically deduct union dues from future paychecks. If Duke refused, union officials stated in a February 20 letter that they would have him barred from working again for ABC.
The NLRB charges detail how NABET officials are illegally trying to force Duke into their dues-paying ranks. As a daily hire, Duke is not subject to compulsory union membership because he is never employed for thirty consecutive days, as required by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
Yet the contract that NABET union officials reached with ABC is illegal on its face because it requires employees to pay forced dues after only 20 non-continuous days of employment in any year or 30 days within two consecutive calendar years – a standard that has no basis in federal labor law.
Despite being facially invalid, requirements of this nature are commonplace in the entertainment industry. Often union officials use threats of blacklisting such workers from future work to press them into paying union dues in violation of federal law.
“By maintaining this blatantly illegal forced unionism policy, NABET officials have been thumbing their noses at employee rights for years while extorting thousands of dollars in illegal union dues and bogus initiation fees,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Foundation attorneys intend to root out this pervasive practice in the entertainment industry.”