On July 27, 2020, Sysco Oklahoma warehouse employee Henry Weilmeunster and his colleagues at Sysco were able to successfully give an unwanted Teamsters union the boot from their workplace.
The National Right to Work Foundation provide free legal counsel to Weilmeunster and his coworkers.
This victory comes on the heels of Teamsters bosses taking a step back from their efforts to challenge the validity of a petition Weilmeunster and a majority of his coworkers signed off on asking Sysco to no longer recognize the union.
Foundation staff attorneys were able to secure certain rights in the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) 2019 Johnson Controls decision. The NLRB ruled in Johnson Controls that an employer can kick out a union if it gets a majority-backed employee petition that opposes the union within a 90-day timeframe of a monopoly bargaining contract expiring.
From there, union officials have a 45-day window to challenge this kind of withdrawal of recognition. They only have this time window if they file for a secret-ballot vote among workplace employees to decide if the union shall end up staying.
Back in December 2019, Weilmeunster submitted a petition to the NLRB demanding a secret-ballot vote to kick out the union. In anticipation of union officials filing “blocking charges” against Sysco to block his efforts to remove the union, Weilmeunster also gave a petition to Sysco asking that it withdraw recognition of the Teamsters union at the first available opportunity. Both requests received supported from a majority of his coworkers.
As Weilmeunster expected to happen, Teamsters union bosses then filed “blocking charges” with the NLRB to stand up to his decertification petition and halt any vote. Union bosses frequently use “blocking charges” to prevent employees from asserting their right to remove unions from workplaces. These misused charges usually featured allegations of unrelated malfeasances by the employer.
Although NLRB Region 14 union officials in January at Teamsters union bosses’ request put an obstacle between Weilmeunster and his coworkers’ request for a decertification vote, Sysco ultimately reversed recognition from the Teamsters union due to the majority of employees supporting the withdrawal measure in Weilmeunster’s petition. Under Johnson Controls, Teamsters bosses had a 45-day window to file for a secret-ballot election to bring back the union, but did not opt to do so. This was largely done because they feared an election loss. Now that union officials’ blocking charges are settled or dropped, Sysco’s withdrawal of recognition stands without any form of opposition and the workers’ request to not have to put with Teamsters has been fully honored.
“Although it’s certainly good news that Mr. Weilmeunster and his coworkers finally succeeded in removing an unwanted Teamsters union, it’s telling that union officials sought to use lawyers to trap workers in union ranks, instead of just requesting a secret ballot election to determine the employees’ wishes,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This case demonstrates why Johnson Controls is important: Union bosses should not be allowed to maintain monopoly power over workers through legal maneuvering when there is clear evidence that a majority of workers want the union out of their workplace.”