Teamsters Union Must Abandon Over $100,000 in Illegal Fines Levied Against Workers During California Grocery Strike
**Los Angeles, CA (August 14, 2007)** – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, 54 grocery workers of Albertsons and Ralphs grocery chains won a major settlement agreement from the Teamsters Local 952 union requiring it to rescind over $100,000 in illegal strike fines.
Under the settlement approved late last week by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC, Teamsters union officials will rescind all unlawful fines levied against employees during the Southern California grocery strike in 2003-2004.
The settlement also mandates that union officials allow several hundred – perhaps even thousands – of workers in eight different bargaining units to retroactively revoke their formal union membership and receive rebates of mandatory dues taken to fund union political and other non-bargaining activities. Under the settlement, the matter will now be remanded to NLRB Region 21 in Los Angeles, which will ensure the union’s compliance.
Led by Juan Saldana, Daniel Hernandez, Sr. and Mike MacDonald, dozens of Albertsons and Ralphs distribution center employees filed unfair labor practice charges in March 2004 with the NLRB after Teamsters officials issued illegal retaliatory fines against them ranging up to $7,200 per employee for refusing to participate in “sympathy strike” activity.
In fact, Teamsters Local 952 union officials socked employees with the confiscatory fines simply for observing the union’s own “no strike” contract with their employers. The targeted employees had continued to report to work during the crippling grocery strike ordered against Albertsons, Vons, and Ralphs by officials of a different union, the United Food and Commercial Workers.
“Although a significant victory for these employees, this case underscores that state law should not force any worker to affiliate with, or be ‘represented’ by, an unwanted union in the first place,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation.
Previously, an NLRB administrative law judge ruled that Teamsters Local 952 officials illegally failed to inform workers of their rights to refrain from formal union membership and to object to paying for the union’s nonrepresentational activities, such as politics. Because the employees thus cannot be considered voluntary members, the judge ruled that employees must be allowed to resign retroactively and thereby avoid internal union disciplinary measures taken against them. The ruling also overturned Teamsters officials’ illegal policy of forcing workers to renew annually their objections to financially supporting the union’s political activities, and to file such objections individually.
In the Foundation-won *Communications Workers of America v. Beck* decision in 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employees are entitled to resign from formal union membership and withhold forced dues for activities other than union monopoly bargaining, such as union political activities and lobbying. And only truly voluntary union members can be subjected to internal union discipline, such as fines