Union officials’ retaliation against nonmembers highlights abuses of union monopoly bargaining privileges
Winston-Salem, NC (September 12, 2008) – National Right to Work Foundation attorneys persuaded federal labor board officials to prosecute union officials and High Point-based Thomas Built Buses for cooperating to deny non-union workers an important employment certification and the corresponding pay increase.
United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 5287 is the monopoly bargaining agent of employees at Thomas Built. With free legal aid from attorneys at the Foundation, Terry Bean filed unfair labor practice charges against Thomas Built and UAW officials with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Winston-Salem. Jamie Whitley filed similar charges against UAW Local 3520 and Cleveland-based Freightliner. Both companies are Daimler Trucks subsidiaries. The NLRB Regional Director’s investigation determined that the employees’ rights were violated.
Because North Carolina is a Right to Work state, UAW officials and the companies may not condition employment on the payment of any dues or fees to the union. Nonmembers like Bean and Whitley, however, must accept the union’s “representation”—whether or not they want it. It is illegal for the employees to represent themselves, but UAW officials have a legal duty to represent fairly all employees in the bargaining units, including nonmembers.
According to the NLRB’s complaint, the UAW Locals have acted in bad faith toward Bean, Whitley, and other similarly situated employees by making agreements with Thomas Built and Freightliner to deny nonmembers discriminatorily their “journeyman” certification and the corresponding pay increase but grant the certification and additional pay to union members with similar skill levels and classifications.
At Freightliner, a human resources manager told nonmember employees that they could only obtain journeyman certification and the corresponding pay increases by completing additional training requirements which do not apply to UAW members. Meanwhile, Local 5287 union officials told nonmember employees at Thomas Built that they could only achieve their rightfully earned employment certification and pay raises by joining the union.
As part of the remedy, the federal government is seeking back pay and other monetary awards with interest. A hearing is scheduled in Winston-Salem on October 27.
“These corrupt union locals have a long history of retaliation against non-union members, and it’s outrageous that management would itself participate in the illegality,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation.