Foundation-won settlement reaffirms workers’ rights to refuse union membership and compulsory fees in Right to Work states
Detroit, Michigan (June 27, 2019) – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, three Michigan workers have a won a federal settlement enforcing their rights to refrain from joining a union or paying union fees as guaranteed by Michigan’s Right to Work law. The victory comes after the workers filed unfair labor practice charges against their employer and the union, Teamsters Local 20.
Wendell Collins and Damani Mincey previously worked, and Arthur Caple still works, as truck drivers for Syncreon America, Inc. based in Michigan. All three chose to exercise their Right to Work without becoming union members or authorizing deductions of union dues and fees from their paychecks.
Despite this, their employer Syncreon deducted union dues and initiation fees from their paychecks, handing them over to Teamsters officials, who accepted and kept them. Teamster bosses also told Mr. Caple that he was required to be a member of the union and pay dues as a condition of his employment, a statement that is untrue. Michigan is one of the 27 states that has a Right to Work law. The law, passed in 2012, prohibits forced union payments, and both the state law and federal law prohibit requiring workers to be formal union members.
National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB for the three employees for automatically deducting dues and initiation fees despite the lack of signed authorizations allowing union officials to take a cut of their pay. Only after facing a likely NLRB prosecution did Teamsters union officials refund the money skimmed from the employees’ paychecks.
The NLRB’s settlement addressed the issue of the union and employer violating each workers’ rights by deducting dues without authorization, discriminating against them with regard to their employment by encouraging union membership through the illegal deductions, and in the case of Mr. Caple, the union illegally telling him he had no choice but to become a union member and sign off on paying dues.
The settlement requires both union officials and the employer to post extensive notices highlighting workers’ rights and promising not to engage in the illegal activity again. Part of the notice the union is required to post reads: “We will not threaten employees with loss of job bidding rights, loss of employment or diminishment of any other terms and conditions of employment because they refuse to join Local 20, International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Union) and/or refuse to pay union membership dues.”
“Foundation staff attorneys are committed to vigorously defending workers’ rights from Big Labor’s coercive practices, including in Right to Work states like Michigan,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Unfortunately, Michigan has become a battleground for worker freedoms as scofflaw union officials continually flout the Right to Work law and illegally subject independent-minded workers to forced union dues.”
Foundation staff attorneys have litigated more than 100 cases for Michigan workers since the state passed Right to Work legislation in 2012.
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.