Federal Labor Board Agrees to Review Deauthorization Drive to Strip Forced Dues Power from Union at LA Times
Teamster bosses threatened to sue employees for refusing to pay dues
Los Angeles, CA (August 17, 2009) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has agreed to reconsider a controversial preliminary decision denying attempts by Los Angeles Times employees to remove a mandatory dues clause from the newspaper’s union contract. Attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation are providing free legal assistance to workers seeking to rid themselves of any forced dues obligation.
Over the past six months, union officials from the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (GCC/IBT) Local 140-N union have repeatedly ordered Leon Carey, Jr. and similarly situated employees to pay union dues or face lawsuits in California civil court, citing a clause in the union’s contract with the Los Angeles Times.
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 cannot be legally compelled to join a union against their will. Employees also have the right to collect signatures for a deauthorization drive to formally revoke a union’s forced-dues privilege.
Carey collected signatures from over 30 percent of his fellow employees and filed a petition for deauthorization with the NLRB’s regional director. The regional director bizarrely refused to schedule the election to eliminate the forced union dues clause, claiming that workers can only pursue deauthorization if the union hierarchy forces them to pay dues upon penalty of losing their jobs.
In the Request for Review, Foundation attorneys noted that because union operatives have repeatedly threatened Carey with legal action if he refuses to pay, the union contract’s forced dues provisions constitute a de facto requirement for working at the Los Angeles Times.
Foundation attorneys have also filed separate unfair labor practice charges challenging the legality of the afore-mentioned provisions.
“We’re encouraged by the NLRB’s decision to review this unfounded preliminary ruling, but union-boss threats of lawsuits will continue as long as workers can be forced to pay dues as a condition of working at the LA Times,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Ultimately, 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.”