Michael P. Tremoglie Feb. 17, 2012, 2:00pm
PORTLAND, Ore. (Legal Newsline) - A school bus driver who filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board has obtained a settlement.
A condition of the Thursday settlement is that the union officials must take a class in workers' rights.
Marc Van Liedekerke, along with his co-workers, had been threatened with termination by officials of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 for declining to join the union.
He was employed as a driver by the First Student/Laidlaw Transit Inc. He filed federal charges after ATU organizers said union membership was necessary to keep his job. The National Right to Work Foundation, a workers' rights advocacy group, provided legal assistance to him to file his complaint.
The charges were filed with the NLRB regional office in Seattle, which investigated the charges and issued a complaint against Local 757.
Because Oregon does not have Right to Work protections for its workers, employees can be forced to pay part of union dues as a condition of employment. However, union officials cannot demand formal union membership from a worker as a requirement to keep a job.
ATU officials also refused to provide workers the legal disclosure informing workers how their forced-dues money was going. The Supreme Court case Communications Workers v. Beck holds that workers who are not union members cannot be forced to pay for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as politics and political lobbying.
ATU officials settled the complaint with the NLRB by ceasing their coercive practices and stop confiscating excessive union dues and fees. But, because of the nature of the violations the NLRB took the extraordinary step of requiring union officials to attend a class on workers' rights regarding union membership and collecting of union dues.
"We are pleased that the NLRB is requiring ATU Local 757 union bosses to stop their illegal practices and to learn about respecting workers' rights," said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work.
"However, this remedy can only go so far to protecting Oregon's workers, as the Beaver State desperately needs a Right to Work law to protect workers from forced unionism abuses like this in the future and make it less difficult for workers to hold union officials accountable."