Teamsters Local 175 bosses illegally cut deal in which union stewards got pay raise unavailable to other workers
Fairmont, WV (June 16, 2020) – A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office based in Pittsburgh issued a complaint against Teamsters Local 175 for discriminating against employees by giving a pay increase only to union stewards. NLRB Region 5’s complaint was issued in response to unfair labor practice charges from a former employee at Genesis HealthCare Tygart Center in Fairmont, WV. The former nursing assistant is receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
This new NLRB Region 5 complaint comes while an appeal to an imposed settlement in a linked case against the Tygart Center on the grounds that it fails to compensate the employees who were denied the additional pay per hour given to union stewards is pending.
According to this new complaint from NLRB Region 5 against Local 175, Donna Harper and her coworkers signed Teamsters membership and dues checkoff authorization forms that contained confusing language and failed to “clearly inform signers that they are permitted to revoke dues deduction authorization” when a union bargaining contract expires or whenever there is no such contract in effect.
Harper submitted a letter to the Teamsters union exercising her right to end her membership and cease union dues deductions in February 2019. Teamsters officials rejected this request, telling Harper that her submission was “untimely” and would need to be sent again at a later date to be accepted. Though Harper had asked the union for the time frame when she could tender her request to end membership and cut off dues, Teamsters officials never informed her of this, according to the complaint. The complaint says that Teamsters officials also did not timely reply to a second request Harper sent in March of 2019.
The union contract imposed by the Teamsters and Tygart Center contained a clause which read that employees who were union stewards as of July 2017 would “receive twenty-five cents ($0.25) per hour above their classified rate.” The complaint contends that Teamsters officials violated employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) through the pay discrimination, the treatment of Ms. Harper’s resignation and revocation, and the confusing checkoff language.
The complaint comes after the West Virginia Supreme Court unanimously upheld the state’s Right to Work protections, which ensure that no private or public sector worker can be forced to join or pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment. The law was the subject of a years-long legal attack by West Virginia union lawyers, including the West Virginia AFL-CIO. Foundation staff attorneys submitted ten legal briefs defending the law, including one for Harper.
“Teamsters union bosses, who misinformed Ms. Harper and her coworkers and were then caught red-handed discriminating against those in her workplace who were not union stewards, serve as just one more example of why Right to Work protections are necessary to safeguard employee rights in the Mountain State,” commented National Right to Work President Mark Mix. “Although the discrimination Ms. Harper charged Teamsters honchos with was blatantly illegal long before West Virginia enacted Right to Work, requiring union bosses to use persuasion and not coercion to win worker support will make them think twice before trying to enforce an illegal scheme under the radar.”
Mix added: “While the West Virginia Supreme Court was right in upholding the Right to Work law, it will take vigorous enforcement to ensure that rank-and-file employees like Ms. Harper are not subjected to these kinds of coercive tactics.”
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.