The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled Mar. 27 that it was an unfair labor practice for the Graphic Communications Int’l Union Local No. 735-S in Hazelton, Pa., to try to coerce a former member into paying union dues and to sue him to collect the dues because the union security clause in a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) did not require employees to continue paying dues after resigning from the union.
The CBA between the Local 735-S and Quebecor Printing, Inc., required new production and maintenance employees to join the union but did not require them to remain members or to continue paying dues after resigning, the court found. Thus, the union violated the Nat’l Labor Relations Act by attempting to coerce Patrick Quick to pay union dues after he quit the union, Circuit Judge Theodore A. McKee held. The court enforced the Nat’l Labor Relations Bd.’s order requiring the local to stop its unlawful conduct, make Quick whole for dues deducted from his wages after his resignation, and to reimburse Quick for any expenses incurred in defending against the local’s lawsuit. The court also upheld the board’s refusal to order the union to pay Quick’s attorneys’ fees. Quick, who was represented without charge by W. James Young of the Nat’l Right to Work Legal Defense Fdn., argued that NLRB abused its discretion in refusing to award attorneys’ fees. Disagreeing, the court pointed out that the NLRA confers rights only on workers, not their attorneys. NLRA does not contain a provision for the award of attorneys’ fees to prevailing parties, the court said. [BNA 3/29/01 citing Quick v. NLRB]