Union officials charge nonmember workers more than full dues to keep their jobs
Spring Grove, PA (October 25, 2012) – A local Teamster union is facing federal prosecution after violating the rights of two local school bus drivers.
The case stems from federal charges filed by two school bus drivers, LeeAnn Schorner and Brenda Wiseman, with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
Schorner and Wiseman refrain from formal union membership in the Teamsters Local Union 776 and object to paying full union dues. Because Pennsylvania lacks a Right to Work law, workers can be compelled to pay union fees as a condition of employment.
However, U.S. Supreme Court precedent guarantees that employees have the right to refrain from union membership and the right to opt out of paying for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as members-only events and political lobbying. Teamster union bosses are further required to provide an independently-audited breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures.
In June, the bus drivers received a letter from Teamster union officials stating that the union hierarchy was requiring them to continue paying the full amount of union dues, even for months in which school is not in session. Meanwhile, union members pay a lower rate of union dues when school is not in session.
Moreover, Teamster union officials refuse to provide a federally-required breakdown of union expenditures. This procedural safeguard helps inform workers of where their forced union dues and fees are being spent and makes it a little less difficult for workers to hold union officials accountable.
The bus drivers filed their federal charges with the NLRB regional office in Philadelphia, which found merit to their charges. A hearing is scheduled for January 16.
"Teamster Local 776 union bosses are illegally targeting school bus drivers who want nothing to do with the union," said Patrick Semmens, vice president for public information at the National Right to Work Foundation. "While a federal prosecution is a good first step, ultimately the best way to protect the rights of workers in the Keystone State is for Pennsylvania to pass a Right to Work law making union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary."
Twenty-three states have Right to Work protections for workers. Recent public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.