With free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, Michigan Rieth-Riley Construction Company employees Rob Nevins and Jesse London have won settlements against International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 324 union bosses. The settlements stem from charges of retaliation the workers filed during the strike IUOE union bosses ordered in mid-2019, which continues today.
The settlements require union bosses to refrain from intimidation tactics IUOE forced on London and Nevins because they decided to end their union memberships and keep working to support their families despite the union boss-issued strike order. Nevins charged union officials with threatening to “blackball” him if he didn’t strike, and London reported that IUOE officials refused to hand over hundreds in health insurance premium money they owed him for time he participated in the strike before exercising his right to leave the union.
Both men also had asserted in other Foundation-backed litigation that IUOE officials created arbitrary hurdles to stop them from exercising their workplace rights. Earlier charges filed by Foundation staff attorneys on behalf of London, Nevins, and other workers pointed out that union officials had failed to honor resignations that completely complied with union demands, and had illegally required all resignation letters be submitted by registered or certified mail.
The current settlements now mandate that IUOE union bosses not discriminate against London and Nevins for exercising their right to refrain from union membership, and also orders them to pay to London the health insurance premium money he is owed.
The settlements come amid a continued push by Rieth-Riley workers for a vote to remove the IUOE union from its monopoly bargaining power at their workplace. Rieth-Riley employee Rayalan Kent submitted the latest employee-backed petition for an NLRB-supervised decertification election in August 2020, which was immediately targeted by union bosses with “blocking charges,” unproven and often unrelated accusations made of an employer that are meant to derail a decertification effort.
Though the regional NLRB office in Detroit ruled in November 2020 that Kent’s petition was invalid and ballots that he and his coworkers had already submitted in the vote should be destroyed, the NLRB in Washington, DC, announced in February 2021 that it would take up Kent’s appeal of that decision.
“It’s easy to see why Rieth-Riley workers might resent IUOE Local 324 union officials and want them out of the workplace – they have established an awful track record of violating the rights of any employees who resist their will in any way instead of working to obtain their voluntary support,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While we’re pleased that Mr. London and Mr. Nevins won these settlements, we urge the NLRB to protect the right of all Rieth-Riley workers to vote to remove a union hierarchy they oppose.”
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 around 250 cases nationwide per year.