Nat. Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed federal unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board stating that local Painters union bosses levied illegal fines of $32,500 against a worker who exercised his right to refrain from formal union membership. Officials of Painters & Allied Trades Local 1275 in Columbus levied the fines after construction worker James Ott sent two resignation letters to union officials in an attempt to resign his union membership. Local 1275 officials ignored his legal right to resign and instead held an internal union “court” and levied the fines after Ott joined another union.
“Once again, union chieftains prove that their main concern is preserving at all costs the unchecked power they wield over workers,” said NRTW’s Stefan Gleason. “There can be no doubt that this attempt to extort a worker for more money than many people make in a year will send a chill through the rank and file.” Under the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Patternmakers v. NLRB, workers may resign their full, formal union membership immediately and without restrictions. Once a worker becomes a non-member, union officials have no legal basis for enforcing union “discipline.”
According to internal union documents, union officials charged Ott — over a month after his resignation from the union became effective — with various bizarre claims including “disloyalty,” “engaging in subversive activity” and violating “provisions in the ritual of this Brotherhood.”