Sedro-Woolley, Washington (July 10, 2008) – With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, two construction workers have filed unfair labor practice charges against the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302 union for exorbitant and illegal $16,000 fines levied against them in an internal union kangaroo court – even though the workers were allegedly never voluntary union members.
Shane Davis and Chad Aldridge filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against IUOE Local 302 after union bosses declared them “guilty” of refusing to give up employment at TriMaxx Construction, a contractor whose employees had voted against unionization. Late last year, union bosses learned that Davis and Aldridge were earning paychecks from the nonunion firm and demanded that they quit their jobs. In February, after Davis and Aldridge refused to put themselves in the unemployment line and resigned from the union, the union hierarchy held its “trial” and levied the confiscatory fines of $16,728.40 each.
In NLRB v. General Motors (1963) and Communications Workers v. Beck (1988), the United States Supreme Court ruled that unions may force workers to pay certain fees as a condition of employment, but workers have the right to refrain from formal union membership. Employees who exercise the right to refrain from union membership cannot be subjected to internal union discipline. Unions have an obligation to tell workers about their General Motors and Beck rights, which Local 302 never did.
Davis and Aldridge claim that as involuntary members, they cannot be lawfully subjected to internal union discipline. They also claim that union officials would not have imposed such severe fines had they not resigned from union “membership.” It is illegal for unions to fine workers as retaliation for resigning.
“Criminals convicted of misdemeanors in the state of Washington can be socked with $5,000 fines,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “It is unconscionable that Local 302 union bosses would slam Shane Davis and Chad Aldridge with fines greater than three times that amount just for trying to earn an honest living.”
The NLRB Regional Office in Seattle will now investigate the charges and decide whether to issue a formal complaint and prosecute the union before an administrative law judge.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.