Right to Work Foundation aids courageous employees who union bosses threatened to have fired
Auburn, Washington (November 17, 2009) – Two Alan Ritchey Incorporated employees have hit local Teamster union officials with unfair labor practice charges after the union brass illegally threatened them with imminent termination.
Gayle May and Patricia Allen, employees of the transportation, storage, and mail delivery manufacturer and supplier, contacted the National Right to Work Foundation after they received a letter from Teamster Local 117 union officials giving them only days to exercise their legal rights to refrain from paying union dues spent for non-bargaining activities like political activism, lobbying, and member-only events, even though they had already exercised these rights.
With help from Foundation attorneys, the employees – on behalf of dozens of other similarly-situated Alan Ritchey employees – filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board regional office in Seattle.
May and Allen held a clear and longstanding objection to formal, dues paying union membership exercising their rights under the Foundation-won Communication Workers of America v. Beck (1988) U.S. Supreme Court victory. In Beck, the Court held that union officials can lawfully compel nonmembers to pay some union dues as a job condition, but they cannot forcibly extract dues spent for union electioneering and other non-bargaining activities.
Over the years, May and Allen have filed several charges against Teamsters 117 over its campaign of retaliation and harassment against independent-minded employees who exercise their Beck rights.
In a new twist, Teamster Local 117 union bosses – citing a new contract between the union and the employer – bullied May and Allen with threats of fines and termination unless they “reiterate” their intentions to exercise their rights under Beck. Employees who exercise their right to refrain from full dues paying union membership are not required to “reiterate” or “renew” their status. Regardless, Local 117 officials sent the employees the letter giving them only a few days to do so (without detailing how) or they would be fired from their jobs.
"It is clear that Local 117 union bosses are employing a new form of illegal harassment aimed at purging independent-minded employees from the workplace," said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Incidents like this reinforces why Washington needs to pass a state Right to Work law to protect independent-minded employees from shameful union boss threats and intimidation."