Union refunds dues to workers

By Michael P. Tremoglie | Mar 12, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) -- The same union that filed a legal action in federal court opposing Indiana's new right-to-work law has refunded dues taken from workers' paychecks as part of a settlement.

Minteq International employees Joel Tibbetts and Adam Hill initially filed legal action with the National Labor Relations Board against the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 in 2007. They filed federal charges with the National Labor Relations Board Region 25 in Indianapolis in September 2007 and again in June 2009 because Local 150 union officials refused to recognize their right to not to pay the full union dues.

Both workers declined from union membership but are still required to pay dues. An employee who does not want to be the member of union in non right-to-work states must pay dues to the union for the amount required for contract negotiation. Dues used in excess of the amount required for representation -- such as political campaign contributions by the union -- are not collectable according to federal labor law.

Also, the union must provide a statement to nonunion employees indicating the amount of dues going to representation and the amount for other purposes. This is known as a Hudson statement.

Local 150 union officials settled in 2008 and 2011. Despite the settlements, union officials continued to collect union dues in excess of those mandated by law.

This will only continue until the current contract expires. After this they will be freed from this obligation because of Indiana's new Right to Work law.

The latest settlement reimburses the two workers $1,268. It also requires union officials to post notices about the workers' rights in the workplace and at the union office in Merrillville.

Meanwhile, in response to IUOE Local recent federal lawsuit against Indiana's right-to-work law, Tibbetts joined a group of Indiana workers from across the state to file an amicus brief in support of the newly-enacted law.

"IUOE Local 150 union bosses have been long waging a campaign against Indiana's workers, even before their frivolous federal lawsuit against Indiana's popular Right to Work law," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation, which provided free legal assistance to the Valparaiso, Ind., workers. "A Right to Work law undermines the IUOE Local 150 union bosses' agenda to take workers' hard-earned money from their paychecks at all costs."

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