Newspaper Union Officials Stripped of Forced Fees
NLRB certifies workers' de-authorization election after two-year delay

January/February 2000 Issue

MASSILLON, Ohio -- Assisted by Foundation attorneys, workers at the Massillon Independent newspaper have won an important de-authorization election that strips the Newspaper Guild of the power to get employees fired for refusing to financially support the union.

After two years of failed legal maneuvering by officials of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild, Local 1, to stop the implementation of the workers' vote, Foundation attorneys convinced the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify the result.

"Workers at the Independent knew it would be an uphill battle to win Right to Work protection in their workplace," said Reed Larson, President of the Foundation. "Their hard work and bravery have paid off in a victory that totally frees them from the chains of compulsory unionism."

"This is scary," Rich Pigon, a Boilermakers union boss, told the Canton Repository when asked about the broader implications of the increased nationwide incidence of Foundation-assisted de-authorizations.

Harassment leads to election

Teresa Melcher, a Massillon Independent employee, originally contacted Foundation attorneys after union officials targeted employees with retribution designed to punish those who chose not to join the union and pay for the union officials' political activities.

The retribution included:

  • penalizing employees who refrained from signing a payroll dues check-off authorization -- forcing such employees to drive 55 miles to Cleveland to pay their dues in person with cash;
  • forcing workers who have chosen to refrain from union membership to pay for lobbying and other political activities;
  • forcing workers to first exhaust internal union "trial boards" before they may proceed to union "arbitration" with the threat of a $100 sanction if the workers' objections are deemed to be "frivolous."

Failure to submit to any of these policies may have resulted in the employee being fired from the Massillon Independent.

"At every step of the way, these illegal tactics were designed to punish employees who objected to paying for Big Labor's political machine," said Larson.

Employees strike back against union officials

Providing free legal aid to Melcher, Foundation attorneys filed unfair labor practice charges against the union with the NLRB. Melcher and her colleagues also asked that a de-authorization election be held to determine whether a majority of employees wanted to halt all mandatory dues seizures for so-called "union representation."

Local 1 officials responded by filing a hasty, hand-written unfair labor practice allegation that the employer was manipulating the employees in an attempt to undermine the union! However, the union submitted no evidence in support of its claim, and the NLRB had no choice but to dismiss it and allow the election.

In July 1997, the 35 employees trapped under Local 1's collective bargaining agreement voted 18-17 to strip the union of its compulsory dues power.

Union brass challenge election

But the union bosses appealed the election to the NLRB, spewing numerous allegations against the employer while claiming that one of the voters was a "supervisor," and thus not eligible to vote.

Foundation attorneys shot down all of the union's bogus claims, and the NLRB grudgingly declared the election official. (As Foundation Action went to press, the NLRB threw out the union's baseless petition to reconsider.)

By de-authorizing the union's forced-dues requirement, Massillon Independent employees are now free to decide for themselves whether to join or financially support the union. The union bosses are now forced to justify to individual employees whether they deserve the support of the rank-and-file workers. They may no longer extract by force any payment from the employees who choose not to join the union. Employees at the newspaper now have the same precious protection enjoyed by citizens living in Right to Work states.

"After years of having compulsory unionism shoved down their throats, Massillon Independent employees have finally recovered their rights," said Larson.


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