Union changes stance after worker's complaint

Michael P. Tremoglie Sep. 17, 2012, 1:14pm


JOHNSONBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - A federal charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board against a Machinist union has forced union officials to stop opposing workers who did not want to join the union.

Christina Wilson, an employee Clarion Sintered Metals in Pennsylvania, filed the federal unfair labor practice charge against the International Association of Machinists Local 2448. IAM is the collective bargaining representative at Clarion.

Wilson alleged:

-"Union has unlawfully demanded payment by Charging Party and similarly situated discriminatees of an initiation fee and threatened their termination;

-"The union has unlawfully demanded payment by Charging Party and similarly situated discriminatees of an initiation fee;" and

-The collective bargaining agreement is not applicable to her and other nonunion employees.

Because Pennsylvania does not have a right-to-work law, workers can be forced to pay union dues or fees to keep their jobs. However, the U.S. Supreme Court held in the Foundation's Communications Workers of America v. Beck case that workers cannot be compelled to pay for union political activities, lobbying and member-only events.

Additionally, union officials are required to provide an independently audited breakdown of union expenditures to make unions accountable to the nonunion workers for their spending.

Initially, IAM officials allegedly demanded Wilson and other nonmember workers, who resigned from membership before the contract went into effect, pay an initiation fee and threatened them with termination if they did not pay.

But IAM officials changed their minds after Wilson filed the federal charge with the NLRB.

"Christina Wilson had to take the courageous step to file a federal charge to stop local Machinist union bosses from illegally threatening to fire workers who had the temerity to exercise their right to refrain from union membership," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which represented Wilson. "Pennsylvania desperately needs a Right to Work law to prevent these types of forced unionism abuses from occurring in the future."

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