DENVER (Legal Newsline) - A non-union Interstate Bakeries employee who claims the Teamsters union discriminated against him over his non-participation, is asking for a court's help.
Kirk Rammage, of Ponca City, Okla., filed a brief Nov. 23 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
"Kirk Rammage was, in the opinion of his employer, its best Ponca City...employee," the brief states. "Despite that fact, he lost his seniority, the opportunity to choose vacation time based on his previous seniority, and the chance to bid for a route out of Ponca City, his home. He lost all of those benefits because the Union and Employer discriminated against him based on his non-union/nonrepresented status."
Rammage was the single non-union sales representative with the Dolly Madison brand of Interstate Bakeries for over 15 years before his division was merged in 2005 with Wonder Bread/Hostess.
The new company initially wanted to retain Rammage and protect his seniority. But officials of Teamsters Local 523 demanded that union members receive preferential treatment, thus placing Rammage at the bottom of the seniority roster despite his workplace tenure, the brief says.
Since seniority increases employees' chances of securing desirable sales routes at Interstate Bakeries, the Teamsters' union officials effectively communicated that union workers took priority over their non-union colleagues. As a result, Rammage was forced to commute to a new work location more than 70 miles away.
Rammage filed federal charges against the union with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The federal agency ruled against a Teamster workplace policy stating it discriminated against non-union workers.
The Court of Appeals upheld the NLRB's decision. Those rulings were later nullified by the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds that the Board lacked a three member quorum at the time of the decision.
The Court of Appeals then remanded the case to the NLRB. Once the Board had a quorum, the NLRB revisited the facts of the case and again concluded that Teamster officials broke the law by discriminating against employees based on their union representation status.
Teamsters' union lawyers have appealed the NLRB's most recent decision at the Tenth Circuit.
"Teamster bosses are using any means necessary to discriminate against a nonunion worker because he had the temerity not to associate with their union," said Patrick Semmens, Legal Information Director for the National Right to Work Foundation, which has provided free legal assistance to Rammage.
"Teamster union bosses apparently need to be told time and time again that they need to respect all workers' rights, including those workers who want nothing to do with the union bosses' so-called representation."