**Butte, MT (October 10, 2007)** – In order to avoid federal prosecution by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a local union had no choice but to ink a settlement with several Safeway employees after union officials tried unlawfully to keep them from exercising their rights.
The settlement, secured by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, requires the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 4 union to reimburse Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY) employees’ forced union dues seizures plus interest, to stop threatening their jobs, and to honor employees’ resignations from formal union membership.
UFCW Local 4 officials must also stop “requiring employees’ resignation letters be notarized, mailed by certified mail, set forth case law citations, and be individually submitted.” UFCW union officials had previously rejected the grocery workers’ requests to resign from formal union membership after union officials said the requests did not meet the union’s bogus and illegal rules for resigning.
With help from National Right to Work attorneys, Safeway 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. A hearing was scheduled for September 18, but in an eleventh-hour decision, union officials signed a settlement in order to avoid embarrassing federal prosecution.
“This is a victory for this group of courageous workers,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “But this ugly union intimidation and abuse will continue to plague workers in Montana because there is no Right to Work law to ensure that payment of union dues is strictly voluntary.”
The employees’ original charges cite that UFCW Local 4 union officials were 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 deauthorization election held in late April where a large majority of employees voted to strip union bosses of their forced unionism privileges. UFCW Local 4 union officials continue to challenge the election results.
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.
In the Foundation-won *Communications Workers of America v. Beck* decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employees laboring under the National Labor Relations Act are entitled to resign from formal union membership but can still be forced to pay for activities related to union monopoly bargaining. However, they cannot be compelled to pay for other costs such as union political activities.