ST. LOUIS – Union officials have used the power given them by the federal government in the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 to coerce and intimidate employees across the nation, according to the president of a nonprofit organization that focuses on legal action against labor organizations.
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation (NRTW), said the charges were brought against Teamsters Local 610 on behalf of the nonprofit's client, Jarod Aubuchon, who alleged he has not been allowed to resign from the union and his employer, Medic One Ambulance, threatened to fire him for distributing Right-to-Work literature. Aubuchon is a St. Louis-area paramedic.
"Unfortunately, this is not the exception it is the rule," Mix said. "Union officials have unique powers over individual workers, and that power comes from the National Labor Relations Act."
A July 12 NRTW press release states the charges were filed at the National Labor Relation Board Region 14 office in St. Louis.
Mix said Aubuchon's case is straightforward.
"There is nothing in here surprising; there is nothing in here that is new," he said. "It's just an employer and a union that is disregarding the law."
Mix and the foundation attorney are using their own 1988 victory in Communication Workers of America v. Beck as a precedent for their client.
"That protects private sector employees from being forced to pay for causes and ideologies that they disagree with," Mix said.
He added back in 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court didn't say that compulsory unionism, the idea that you can get fired from your job for not paying dues and fees, is unconstitutional.
"Union officials say it all the time, 'no one is forced to join the union,' and that is true," Mix said. "They were forced to join the unions up until 1963 when the Supreme Court finally said, 'the fact that we are forcing someone to formally join an organization they disagree with is a bridge too far.'"
He said this case points to two factors: workers can be compelled to pay fees to keep their jobs and union officials can disobey the law.
"Obviously in Missouri, you have had a fairly decent debate over the right to work, but this case goes right to the heart of that," he said.
Mix said if union officials who claim to represent Aubuchon would look at the NLRA, they would clearly see that their actions, and that of Medic One, violate Section 8 A:1 and Section 8 B:2 of the NLRA.
According to the NLRA website, Section 8 A:1 states "it shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights."
Section 8 B:2 reads "it shall be an unfair labor practice for a labor organization or its agents- to discriminate against an employee with respect to whom membership in such organization has been denied or terminated on some ground other than his failure to tender the periodic dues and the initiation fees uniformly required as a condition of acquiring or retaining membership."
"They won't let him resign, and that is a violation of (Section) 8 B:2, and they are asking the employer to discipline him for his actions," Mix said. "He was literally disseminating information about Right-to-Work, and the union stepped in and destroyed that material."
Mix said though the charges are straightforward, Teamster Local 610 will continue to fight.
"This case will draw on for years, and years and years," Mix said. "They will continue to do what they have done, and that is to collect full dues from this worker, who is trying to resign from the union."