Union officials attempted to force one St. Louis-based employee to abandon his job during union-ordered strike
St. Louis, MO (July 23, 2009) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, two St. Louis-based AT&T employees have filed federal unfair labor practice charges against union officials for illegal coercion.
The charges outline a series of abuses involving Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 6300 union and its national affiliate, including an illegal attempt to force one worker to participate in a general strike. These allegations come on the heels of similar charges filed by AT&T employees in New Jersey, who also report that CWA militants attempted to force them to participate in an upcoming work stoppage.
David McBride of Granite City, Illinois and Jeanette Burton of Imperial, Missouri allege that union officials engaged in a series of abusive and illegal practices. In addition to attempting to force McBride to participate in a strike, union operatives refused to recognize either workers’ right to refrain from paying forced union dues unrelated to collective bargaining. Under the Foundation-won Supreme Court precedent Communication Workers v. Beck, nonunion workers can be forced to pay certain dues or lose their jobs, but they cannot be compelled to fund any union activities unconnected to workplace bargaining, including political activism, lobbying, and public relations.
After union officials finally acknowledged the employees’ rights to opt-out of certain dues, they continued to insist that both workers had to renew their objections annually. Moreover, CWA Local 6300 also failed to provide both workers with an independently-verified breakdown of union expenditures. An audited disclosure of union finances is required by Foundation-won legal precedents to ensure nonunion workers are not being compelled to pay for non-bargaining activities.
Finally, union officials continued to force both workers to pay dues after the union’s contract with AT&T expired in April 2009. The union hierarchy’s previous agreement with AT&T contained a provision requiring nonmember employees to pay union dues for collective bargaining, but now that the agreement has lapsed, neither employee can be compelled to pay any dues to CWA officials.
The charges will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
“It’s absurd that AT&T employees are forced to jump through this many hoops just to reclaim their forced union dues, and the union’s efforts to force one worker off the job is even worse” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “No worker should be forced to pay tribute to a union boss just to get or keep a job.”