With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, Zachary Pedigo and his fellow paramedics and EMTs at Galesburg Hospitals Ambulance Service are seeking to exercise their right to vote unwanted Teamsters Local 627 bosses out of power at their workplace. Pedigo submitted a petition to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requesting a “decertification vote.”

The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law and adjudicating disputes between employers, unions, and individual employees. If successful, Pedigo and his coworkers’ effort would be the latest in a string of Foundation-assisted employee elections removing Teamsters officials from power. In just the past year, Rush University maintenance workers in Chicago, Frito-Lay salesmen in Del Rio, TX, Allied Central Coast truckers in Santa Maria, CA, XPO Logistics workers in Cinnaminson, NJ, and Blish-Mize hardware distribution employees in Atchison, KS, all voted to decertify unpopular Teamsters local unions.

Additionally, Airgas employees in Ventura, CA, and XPO Logistics workers in Los Angeles, CA, were freed from Teamsters power last year after union officials departed both workplaces to preempt likely election losses.

For more than a year workers have been enjoying an easier pathway to exercising their right to remove unwanted union officials. The NLRB in Washington, DC, in July 2020 enacted new rules governing decertification elections which, drawing from comments Foundation attorneys submitted to the agency earlier that year, now forbid union bosses from indefinitely stalling worker-requested votes based on so-called “blocking charges.” Such charges are union allegations against an employer that are often unproven and unrelated to workers’ desire to oust union officials.

Because Illinois lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector employees, such as Pedigo and his fellow paramedics and EMTs, they can be forced to pay part of full union dues as a condition of keeping their jobs even if they are not union members and oppose the union’s presence. However, because the most recent contract between Teamsters officials and Galesburg Hospitals Ambulance Service expired around a month ago, this obligation does not currently exist for Pedigo and his coworkers. They can only be legally compelled to pay dues or fees again once a new contract is in place.

Under the protection of Right to Work laws, which are on the books in 27 states, individual employees have the freedom to choose to voluntarily become union members and to financially support a union, or to abstain from both.

“Mr. Pedigo and his coworkers, who provide lifesaving first aid to the citizens of Galesburg, should not have to be subjects of Teamsters union bosses whose so-called ‘representation’ they oppose,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Thanks to Foundation-advocated reforms adopted by the NLRB in 2020, Mr. Pedigo and his fellow paramedics and EMTs should have an easier path to voting out the union. However, Foundation attorneys will ensure that their voices are heard and will battle any attempts to stifle their rights by Teamsters officials.”

Elsewhere in Illinois, Foundation staff attorneys are aiding Nick Salzmann and his fellow Village of Carpentersville part-time firefighters in attempting to decertify an unpopular Service Employees International Union (SEIU) affiliate in their workplace. Salzmann and his coworkers are battling “blocking charges” filed by SEIU bosses against Village officials to delay the firefighters’ requested decertification election. Salzmann and his coworkers are public employees and thus under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Labor Relations Board (ILRB), not the NLRB. The ILRB, which lacks protections against “blocking charges,” is giving SEIU bosses a chance to stymie Salzmann and his coworkers’ attempt to free themselves from unwanted union control.

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.

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