News Release

Federal Agency to Prosecute Union for Repeatedly Threatening Valparaiso Worker’s Job

Union officials unlawfully inflate worker’s compulsory dues

Valparaiso, IN (April 3, 2008) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has agreed to prosecute the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 150 for threatening to get a worker fired for refusing union membership. The agency issued the complaint in response to unfair labor practice charges filed by the employee with help from attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

Minteq International, Inc. employee Joel Tibbetts originally filed federal charges against the IUOE Local 150 on October 1, 2007. Aside from threatening Tibbetts’ job, union officials are also accused of failing to notify him of his rights to refrain from full union membership, to provide him with an audit of the union’s financial expenditures, and allow him to withhold forced dues unrelated to collective bargaining.

Tibbetts, a steel mill worker at Minteq, turned to the National Right to Work Foundation for help after union officials repeatedly threatened to have him fired for refusing to join the IUOE. When Tibbetts finally agreed to join the union under protest out of fear of losing his livelihood, union officials refused his application and told him that he would actually have to pay even more in compulsory dues than his co-workers who were union members.

IUOE officials unlawfully told Tibbetts that union members’ fees are calculated on an individual basis, whereas nonmember’s fees are based on so-called “representation” costs, which somehow made the forced dues demanded of him higher than dues paid by formal union members.

“IUOE union officials have repeatedly run roughshod over the rights of workers in Indiana,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Until the Hoosier State passes a Right to Work law making union membership and dues payment strictly voluntary, employees statewide will continue to face this thuggishness.”

However, under the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision 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 verified financial disclosure of union expenditures, a provision that allows employees to refuse to pay for activities unrelated to workplace representation. Retaliation or discrimination against employees for exercising these rights is also illegal.

The NLRB has scheduled a June 17, 2008 hearing to prosecute the union at the NLRB Regional Office 25 in Indianapolis.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.

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