**Batavia, IL (December 20, 2007)** – Laidlaw Transit, Inc. busing employees have voted to remove Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1028 as the “exclusive bargaining representative” of approximately 160 transit workers. In an election held earlier this week, Laidlaw Transit employees voted 83-64 to oust the unwanted union from their workplace.
The election result comes just months after a majority of employees had already petitioned their employer to withdraw recognition of the ATU union. However, after a British company, FirstGroup PLC, completed the purchase of Laidlaw Transit in October, the bus company and ATU Local 1028 officials illegally began bargaining over the wages and working conditions of employees that the union did not even “represent.”
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, Laidlaw Transit employee Russell Haasch filed federal charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Haasch highlighted that ATU union officials had been negotiating a contract with FirstGroup, despite the fact that he and his coworkers had successfully ousted the union earlier this year.
In spring 2007, Haasch collected signatures from an overwhelming majority of his coworkers and in June presented the petition to their employer, Laidlaw Transit, which legally and properly ended its recognition of the ATU union as the monopoly bargaining agent. Haasch and his coworkers soon realized that the successor employer, FirstGroup, was negotiating a contract with ATU officials, despite the fact that the employees had shown that the union did not have their support.
According to the National Labor Relations Act, by bargaining over the contracts of employees that the union does not legally represent, the union and FirstGroup engaged in illegal “pre-recognition” bargaining. As part of their negotiations, the union sought a forced-dues clause in the contract that would make payment of union dues a job requirement. Facing an embarrassing federal prosecution, officials of ATU Local 1028 and FirstGroup had no choice but to agree to the secret ballot decertification election.
“Despite ATU union officials’ attempt to force this unpopular union on employees’ like-it-or-not, Haasch and his coworkers have once again shown them the door,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “With the lack of respect these union officials have for the employees, it is no surprise that workers have repeatedly rejected this union hierarchy.”
As a result of the decertification victory, Laidlaw Transit employees will now be free to negotiate their own terms and conditions of employment, and be rewarded on their individual merit. Decertification elections are an uphill battle for workers to obtain or win. In particular, union lawyers are adept at gumming up the works by filing baseless charges that often block an election for years. Employees can only obtain such elections during narrow periods every few years, and incumbent union hierarchies often retaliate against dissenting employees.