NLRB to hold hearing for Teamsters complaint

By Michael P. Tremoglie | Aug 16, 2012

PHILADELPHIA (Legal Newsline) -- The National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and its Local 16-N for "Beck Right" violations.

"Beck Rights" refers to the 1988 Supreme Court case Communications Workers of America v. Beck in which the Court determined that a union cannot collect and spend dues from nonunion employee other than what is necessary to finance collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment - if a non-union member objects to the use of dues for political, legislative, social or charitable purposes. The nonunion employee can remain a nonunion and pay a reduced amount of dues if requested.

Rhonda Mitchell, an employee of Vertis Communications, Chalfont, Pa., purportedly notified union officials of her intent not to join the union after it was named the representative for the company's employees. She also objected to paying full union dues.

The union, allegedly, did not comply with federal labor law and collect only that portion of the dues used for collective bargaining. It also allegedly failed to comply with federal disclosure requirements by providing Mitchell with an independently-audited financial breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures from the year of 2011 when the union began representation. She did not have the opportunity to challenge the amount of forced union fees before an impartial decision maker. This minimal safeguard is designed to ensure that employees have an opportunity to refrain from paying for Furthermore, Mitchell alleged that the union officials threatened to get her fired.

Mitchell filed multiple unfair labor practice charges against the GCC-IBT union and its local affiliate in April and May. The NLRB regional office in Philadelphia investigated the charges and found merit to her claims and will now prosecute the GCC-IBT union and its local affiliate.

According to the complaint, the NLRB Region Four office determined:

The union failed to inform Unit employees that they have the right to be, to become, or to remain nonmembers; that they have a right to object to paying for nonrepresentational activities; and to obtain a reduction in fees for such nonrepresentational activities; that they have the right, as nonmembers, to be apprised of any internal union procedures for filing objections.

The NLRB also said that "from on or about December 12, 2011 until about April 28, 2012, and on or about April 30, 20l2, and GCC-International, respectively failed and refused to recognize Rhonda Mitchell, as an objecting nonmember and continued to seek from her full dues and fees as a condition of her continued employment with Vertis."

The union also from "on or about December 12, 2011 until on or about May 25, 2012, GCC-International fai1ed to provide Rhonda Mitchell with a detailed apportionment of its expenditures for representational activities and nonrepresentational activities, and an independently verified audit thereof, covering the period January 1, 2012 through May 25, 2012."

It has not provided Ms. Mitchell with detailed apportionment of its expenditures for representational activities and nonrepresentational activities, and an independently verified audit thereof, for the period of from December 12, 2011 through December 31, 2011 and from December 12, 2011 until about May 26, 2012.

"Teamster union bosses are intimidating employees who have the temerity to not want to associate with the union hierarchy or toe the union line," said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This case is yet another example of how Pennsylvania desperately needs a Right to Work law, which would make dues payment and union membership strictly voluntary."

The Graphic Communications Conference - International Brotherhood of Teamsters did not respond to a request for a comment.

The NLRB Region Four office said that a response was received but did not elaborate.

A hearing is scheduled in November.

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