News Release

Federal Labor Judge to Hold Hearing on Steelworker Union’s Illegal Scheme to Seize Workers’ Dues

USW union affiliates used complex opt-out requirements to prevent nonunion workers from stopping dues payments unrelated to collective bargaining

Morgantown, WV and Goshen, IN (March 17, 2009) – In response to unfair labor practice charges filed by National Right to Work attorneys, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint that seeks nationwide remedies against steelworker union officials for violating employees’ rights.

Nonunion employees of Chemtura Corporation in Morgantown, West Virginia and Cequent Towing Products in Goshen, Indiana are currently forced by United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW) officials to annually opt-out of paying dues unrelated to workplace bargaining. Because neither Indiana nor West Virginia has passed a Right to Work law making union dues fully voluntary, nonunion workers are forced to fund union workplace negotiations. However, under Supreme Court precedents secured by National Right to Work attorneys, workers cannot be forced to pay dues for union activities unrelated to bargaining.

After reviewing the union’s annual objector policy, the NLRB General Counsel agreed with Foundation attorneys’ arguments and issued a nationwide complaint to end the union’s onerous opt-out requirements. The case will now be heard by an administrative law judge.

Under federal labor law, union bosses cannot arbitrarily discriminate against nonunion employees as a condition of maintaining their government-granted monopoly bargaining privileges. At Chemtura and Cequent Towing, nonunion workers are forced to annually repeat their objection to union dues unrelated to workplace bargaining, whereas union members are not required to annually renew their union membership.

The NLRB General Counsel is now seeking a remedy that requires USW bosses to rescind any and all annual opt-out requirements and post public notices informing workers across the country of their right to permanently withdraw financial support from union activities unrelated to collective bargaining

“This Byzantine opt-out process is little more than a scheme to ensure more unwilling workers pay tribute to USW bosses,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Union officials are only interested in making nonunion workers jump through bureaucratic hoops, particularly when forced-dues dollars are involved. Until workers in West Virginia and Indiana have the protection of a Right to Work law that makes union membership and dues payment truly voluntary, these illegal schemes will persist.”

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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