Illegal contract provides pretext for Teamster bosses to sue employees for not joining the union or paying dues
Los Angeles, CA (June 1, 2009) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, a Los Angeles Times employee has filed unfair labor practice charges against newspaper and union officials for threatening him with an illegal lawsuit.
Over the past six months, union officials from the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (GCC/IBT) Local 140-N have repeatedly ordered Leon Carey, Jr. and similarly situated employees to join the union and pay full dues or face a lawsuit in California civil court, citing a clause in the union’s contract with the Los Angeles Times. Carey’s charges allege that these actions violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which prohibits union officials from restraining or coercing workers who refrain from formal, full dues-paying union membership.
Because California is not a Right to Work state, employees can be obligated to pay union dues related to collective bargaining as a condition of employment. However, employees are not obligated to formally join a union or pay dues for activities other than workplace negotiations, such as lobbying and electioneering.
Moreover, union officials must provide nonunion workers with an independently-audited breakdown of all union expenditures, which is required to allow nonunion employees to opt out of dues unrelated to collective bargaining. In addition to threatening nonunion employees with an illegal lawsuit, Teamster officials also failed to provide them with sufficient information on the union’s financial outlays.
The charges will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
“It’s bad enough that employees can be forced to pay union dues just to keep a job, but these thuggish tactics are completely uncalled for,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Making union membership and dues-payment completely voluntary is the only way to prevent this type of abuse in the future, which is why California desperately needs a Right to Work law.”