Labor Board Steps Up for West Virginia Workers Against Abusive Union Bosses

On June 16, 2020, a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office located in Pittsburgh filed a complaint against Teamsters Local 175 for discriminating against employees by only giving pay raises to union stewards. NLRB Region 5’s complaint was filed as a response to unfair labor practice charges from a former worker at Genesis HealthCare Tygart Center in Fairmont, West Virginia. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is giving the former nursing assistant free legal aid.

According to the new complaint from NLRB Region 5 against Local 175, Donna Harper and her coworkers signed off on Teamsters membership and dues checkoff authorization forms that featured confusing language and failed to “clearly inform signers that they are permitted to revoke dues deduction authorization” when a union bargaining contract expired or when there is no such contract in effect.

Harper submitted a letter to the Teamsters union asserting her right to terminate her membership and cease union dues deductions in February 2019. Teamsters officials rejected this request, informing Harper that her submission was “untimely” and would need to be re-sent at a later date to be accepted. Although Harper had asked the union for the specific time frame when she could submit her request to withdraw union membership and stop paying dues to the union, Teamsters officials never told her about this, per the complaint. According to the complaint, Teamsters officials also did not reply in a timely manner to a second request Harper sent in March 2019.

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The union contract that the Teamsters and Tygart Center imposed contained a clause which outlined that employees who were union members as of July 2017 would “receive twenty-five cents ($0.25) per hour above their classified rate.” The complaint argues that Teamsters officials infringed on employee rights that workers enjoy under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). They cited the pay discrimination, the treatment of Ms. Harper’s resignation and revocation, and the confusing language used in outlining the checkoff authorization.

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The complaint follows the West Virginia Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to uphold the state’s Right to Work protections, which protects private and public sector workers from being forced to join or pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment.

“Teamsters union bosses, who misinformed Ms. Harper and her coworkers and were then caught red-handed discriminating against those in her workplace who were not union stewards, serve as just one more example of why Right to Work protections are necessary to safeguard employee rights in the Mountain State,” remarked National Right to Work President Mark Mix. “Although the discrimination Ms. Harper charged Teamsters honchos with was blatantly illegal long before West Virginia enacted Right to Work, requiring union bosses to use persuasion and not coercion to win worker support will make them think twice before trying to enforce an illegal scheme under the radar.”

Mix continued: “While the West Virginia Supreme Court was right in upholding the Right to Work law, it will take vigorous enforcement to ensure that rank-and-file employees like Ms. Harper are not subjected to these kinds of coercive tactics.”

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