Michigan Employees Hit Union with Federal Charges

A Brighton Interior Systems employee today filed class-action charges against the United Auto Workers after union bosses illegally coerced hundreds of workers into joining the union.  Stephen Yokich, UAW international president, was among the union officials served.  With the assistance of Nat’l Right to Work Legal Defense Found. attorneys, Erik Daly, an employee at the Brighton auto parts factory, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the Nat’l Labor Relations Bd. against the UAW and UAW Local 599 in Flint, Mich.

“UAW bullies are forcing these workers to join the union under the threat of being fired from their jobs,” said NRTW’s Randy Wanke

In violation of the 1988 NRTW-won U.S. Supreme Court decision, Communications Workers v. Beck, UAW bosses demanded that all employees formally join the union and pay full union dues as a condition of employment. Under Beck, union officials may not compel workers to pay for politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining activities. The UAW union, which admits that at least 21% of each member’s union dues goes toward politics and similar activities, issued an illegal ultimatum to Brighton employees telling them to sign membership cards or “join the unemployment line.”

The charges state that since Local 599’s monopoly bargaining contract at Brighton went into effect in July 2001, the union has (with the support of its International union parent) “engaged in a campaign of misrepresentations, coercions, and omissions” such that “not a single employee in this bargaining unit can be considered to be a voluntary member.”

Not only are the union’s demands blatantly unlawful, but under numerous precedents, unions must specifically inform employees of their right to refrain from formal, full dues-paying union membership before seizing any forced union dues.

NRTW attorneys are asking the NLRB to issue a formal complaint against UAW and Local 599 and UAW International unions and declare all union membership and dues deduction cards at Brighton to be null and void. NRTW is also demanding that union bosses provide retroactive refunds of all dues improperly collected and that they be prohibited from collecting any additional dues until they inform employees of their rights and halt their systematic violations of law. [NRTW Media Release 8/22/01]