After seven years, employees are finally free of unwanted UAW presence
Washington, DC (June 3, 2013) – After a seven year legal struggle, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has finally upheld Tenneco workers’ decision to eject the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 660 union. UAW lawyers had held up the decertification process by claiming that unfair labor practices perpetrated by Tenneco caused employee disaffection with the union, but the Court of Appeals concluded that there was “no substantial evidence” to back up this claim.
Lonnie Tremain, the Tenneco employee who first circulated a petition to decertify the union, received free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys during the legal battle to remove the UAW, including legal representation at the U. S. Court of Appeals.
In December 2006, 24 of the 31 employees at Tenneco’s Grass Lake, Michigan facility presented company officials with a decertification petition seeking the removal of UAW Local 660. Union lawyers responded by filing a series of unfair labor practice charges against Tenneco, claiming that the company’s treatment of the union had caused employees to turn against the UAW.
Among other things, UAW lawyers claimed that Tenneco’s refusal to turn over the home addresses and personal contact information of non-striking workers violated the National Labor Relations Act. Company officials say they were concerned about the possibility of union intimidation and violence.
Although an administrative law judge ruled that the decertification petition was valid and untainted by any Tenneco actions, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined in 2011 that the company’s unfair labor practices contributed to employees’ anti-union sentiment. After Tenneco appealed, the DC Court of Appeals overturned the NLRB’s ruling on the grounds that there was no evidence that the company did anything to influence its employees’ decision to get rid of the UAW.
Once a union is established as the monopoly bargaining agent for a workplace, it is very difficult to remove. Union officials can dictate terms and conditions of employment for all workers, even those who are not union members. In states without Right to Work laws, nonunion employees can also be forced to pay union dues.
“After a long legal battle, Tenneco employees have finally ejected the UAW,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Employees who wish rid to themselves of a union shouldn’t be punished for their employer’s alleged transgressions or because of trumped up charges from union bosses attempting to stop a union decertification. Unfortunately, the Obama NLRB is more concerned with furthering Big Labor’s interests than respecting employees’ wishes.”