**Butte, MT (August 6, 2007)** – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has agreed to prosecute the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 4 union for illegally seizing forced union dues from multiple Safeway employees’ paychecks, unlawfully threatening termination, and rejecting requests to resign from formal union membership.
With help from attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY) employees Gerald Rasmussen and Carla Crandall originally filed federal charges against the UFCW Local 4 union in April and May, respectively. After an initial investigation, the NLRB combined the complaints into one case and scheduled a hearing for September 2007 to prosecute the union.
The employees’ original 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 the union bosses of their forced unionism privileges.
All 34 Safeway employees participated in the late April NLRB-supervised deauthorization vote – a secret ballot election that gives employees the right to eliminate the mandatory dues clause from a monopoly bargaining contract. UFCW Local 4 union officials have been challenging the election result.
“No one should be forced to pay dues to a union,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “These sorts of abuses will continue to plague workers in states like Montana, where there is no Right to Work law to ensure that payment of union dues is strictly voluntary.”
After learning of their right to resign from formal union membership from sources independent of UFCW Local 4, Rasmussen, Crandall and other employees sent letters to union officials resigning from formal union membership. Union officials rejected their requests and never provided any of the legally-mandated financial disclosure statements to the Safeway employees.
Additionally, UFCW union officials invented their own bogus and illegal rules for resigning. In their correspondence, union officials claim the grocery employees’ letters were unacceptable because they were not notarized, the letters were not sent by certified mail in separate envelopes, and were not accompanied by copies of applicable NLRB decisions and Supreme Court rulings.
However, under the 1988 Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in *Communications Workers v. Beck*, union officials cannot require formal union membership or the payment of union dues unrelated to collective bargaining as a condition of employment. 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 activities such as union politicking or lobbying.