State court lawsuit: Teamsters union bosses and Genesys Regional Medical Center illegally rejected six different requests by nurse to end union dues deductions
Flint, MI (December 17, 2019) – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Flint-area nurse Madrina Wells has sued the Teamsters Local 332 union, after union bosses illegally demanded she pay them union fees as a condition of keeping her job. Her employer, Genesys Regional Medical Center, is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit for seizing union fees from her paycheck at the behest of Teamsters officials. Wells’ lawsuit, filed in state court, says that both actions violate her rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law.
According to the complaint filed in Genesee County Circuit Court, Wells resigned her union membership in February 2018 and requested that Teamsters officials cease all dues deductions from her paycheck in December of the same year. Notwithstanding her request, Teamsters bosses sent her a letter in January 2019 demanding that she pay them nonmember “agency fees” after she returned from a stint on medical leave, which she had begun in December 2018.
Though a reduced amount of union dues is legally chargeable to private sector employees who abstain from formal union membership in non-Right to Work states, in Right to Work states like Michigan no public or private sector employee is required to pay any amount of union fees as a condition of employment.
When Wells resumed work in July 2019, the complaint notes, she sent Teamsters officials another notice “renewing her objection” to tendering any dues or fees whatsoever to the Teamsters hierarchy. Teamsters bosses again rebuffed her request, insisting that she was required to pay them a portion of union fees as a condition of employment.
According to the complaint, Teamsters officials subsequently demanded forced fees from Wells for July through December of 2019, all in clear violation of her rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law. Wells responded to each demand by reiterating her objection to the illegal fees, but submitted the fees demanded by Teamsters bosses under protest. On top of that, Genesys Regional Medical Center forcibly deducted the Teamsters’ so-called “agency fee” from Wells’ paycheck in August 2019, and seized the full amount of union dues from her paycheck in October.
Wells seeks a ruling from the Genesee County Circuit Court that will make Teamsters officials end all illegal dues demands and pay “damages and/or equitable restitution” to her for all the dues that they seized from her, plus interest.
Michigan has been a hotbed for litigation brought for workers with Foundation legal aid since the state enacted its Right to Work law in 2013. Recently, Foundation staff attorneys won a settlement for Port Huron-area public school employees Tammy Williams and Linda Gervais, ending dues demands made by the Michigan Education Association union (MEA) in violation of the Right to Work law. As a result of that settlement, more than a dozen teachers were freed from illegal dues demands.
“Once again Michigan union bosses have been caught shamelessly violating Michigan’s Right to Work law,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Foundation staff attorneys have litigated more than 100 cases in the Wolverine State since its Right to Work law was enacted, and will continue the fight until all Michigan workers can freely exercise their right not to fund unions with which they disagree.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.