On October 30, 2019, staff attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed an unfair labor practice charge against a local Teamsters union at a Pepsi plant.
The Pepsi plant employee who they represented was told that he would have to join the union as a condition of employment. The union then attempted to fire him and would not let him exercise his legal right to withdraw from the union.
Vince Zasonski works for a Pepsi-Cola production plant in Lathan, New York where the Teamsters Local 294 have a bargaining agreement that contains a union security clause. This clause mandates union payments as a condition of employment. During the summer of 2018, Zasonski wanted to leave the union, but a union official informed him that because New York does not have a Right to Work law, he must stay in the union. It should be noted that Zasonski did not join the union voluntarily.
The statement came right after Zasonski asked union officials about resigning from the union. The union wrongly misstated workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act and well-established legal precedents. While New York lacks a Right to Work law, workers in the Empire State have the right to rescind their formal membership and only pay a portion of their dues allowed according to the Supreme Court’s Communications Workers of America v. Beck decision. This decision established that unions cannot compel workers to pay for activities not related to bargaining such as union political and lobbying activities.
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The officials tried to dismiss Zasonski for trying to cancel his union membership. Back in August 2019, Zasonski informed union officials of his desire to resign from the union and exercise his Beck rights.
Union officials have yet to respond to Zasonski’s letter or recognize his legal rights. The unfair labor practice charge Zasonski filed with free legal counsel from the National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys argues that union officials never told him that he could resign from the union or that he could exercise his Beck rights. In addition, the union did not provide Zasonski with an overall picture of the fees in accordance to the Beck standard or lower Zasonski’s dues as he requested.
The union has continued to illegally seize dues from Zasonski’s paycheck as if he were a full-fledged member of the union despite the steps he took to leave the union and no longer pay dues to finance political activities that violate his Beck rights.
“Lying to employees about their right to resign from union membership and their ability to stop paying full dues shows what lengths greedy union bosses will go to pad union coffers, even if it means violating the rights of the very workers they claim to represent,” declared National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This case shows why every worker in America needs the protection of a Right to Work law that makes union membership and financial support strictly voluntary.”