Union officials levy more than $200,000 in confiscatory fines against workers who would not abandon their jobs
Chicago, IL (September 11, 2008) - With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, nine Lechner and Sons employees have filed federal charges against an International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union local for exorbitant and illegal retaliatory fines levied against them.
The employees filed the unfair labor practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Teamsters Local Union 731. Union officials hit the employees with fines ranging from $13,946 to $40,000 each for working during the strike, despite the fact that none of the employees were truly voluntary members of the union during the strike. Union officials never informed any of the employees of their right to refrain from formal union membership and pay a reduced amount of forced dues. Instead, union officials deceived the employees into believing that formal, full-dues-paying union membership was a condition of employment.
In July 2006, union bosses ordered the employees, all truck drivers, to abandon their jobs during a so-called “sympathy strike” involving a different bargaining unit of workers at the plant where the strike occurred. After the strike ended in June 2007, union brass claimed the power to use fines to discipline non-striking employees.
The union hierarchy also claimed the power to discipline two employees for working during the strike even though they were not union members during the strike. The union bosses illegally threatened one employee that if he did not pay the fine, he would never again work in a “union-shop.” All of the employees have now resigned from the union.
“It is unconscionable for union bosses to mislead employees into union membership and then attempt to drive them into the poorhouse in vicious retaliation for working,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This disturbing, yet increasingly-used tactic of union intimidation is all too common in states like Illinois where there is no Right to Work law on the books.”
A Right to Work law secures the right of employees to decide for themselves whether or not to join or financially support a union. The NLRB Regional Director’s Office will now investigate the charges and decide whether to issue a formal complaint and prosecute the union.