Teamsters officials refused to honor employee’s union resignation, demanding hundreds in union dues

Grand Rapids, MI (March 5, 2019) – Federal charges brought by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys for Karen Ellis against Teamsters Local 332 have forced union officials to settle. Ellis filed the charges against Local 332 after union officials ignored her union dues deduction authorization revocation and threatened to sue her to force her to pay union dues.

Ellis works at Vocational Independence Program, an adult education school, in Flint, Michigan. Teamsters Local 332’s monopoly bargaining contract over her and her coworkers expired December 31, 2016. In February 2017, during the contractual hiatus, Ellis hand-delivered a letter to Local 332 union officials notifying them that she resigned from union membership and revoked her authorization for union dues deductions from her paycheck. She sent another letter two days later to reiterate her dues deduction revocation, and additionally notified Local 332’s international affiliate of her revocation in a letter two weeks later.

Union officials waited nine months before notifying Ellis in November 2017 that they refused to honor her revocation of dues deduction authorization, claiming that she owed union dues of nearly $300 and threatening to sue her if she did not pay the dues they claimed she owed. Local 332 also filed a grievance against Vocational Independence Program for honoring her revocation and stopping the deduction of union dues from her paycheck.

Even after Ellis reiterated her revocation – in November 2017 and again in February 2018, during another contractual hiatus – union officials refused to honor her revocation and threatened to sue her if she did not give in to their demands and pay the union dues they claimed.

Ellis sought free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys to challenge the union officials’ demands as a violation of the National Labor Relations Act by blocking her from exercising her right to refrain from union membership and paying union dues.

Rather than face Foundation attorneys in an NLRB hearing, Local 332 officials decided to settle. Under the settlement, they will honor Ellis’ original dues deduction revocation submitted after the monopoly bargaining contract expired in 2016. Additionally, union officials will post a notice informing the school’s employees of their right to choose whether or not to join and support a union.

“Ms. Ellis defended her rights against union bosses’ under-handed attempts to coerce and threaten her into paying union dues against her wishes,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Unfortunately, this case is one of many that shows that union bosses will trample on the rights of the workers they claim to ‘represent’ to pander to their forced-dues greed. The Foundation must remain vigilant to protect employees from compulsory unionism’s abuses, even in Right to Work states like Michigan.”

Michigan’s popular Right to Work legislation was signed into state law in December 2012 and ended any requirement that workers must pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Since the legislation was passed, Foundation staff attorneys have litigated more than 100 cases in Michigan combating compulsory unionism.

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.

Posted on Mar 5, 2019 in News Releases