Remmington Duk, who recently worked as a mechanic at the Robert Basil Buick GMC dealership in Orchard Park, has filed federal charges against the International Association of Mechanics (IAM) Lodge 447 union and the dealership. Duk’s charges say that IAM agents illegally threatened to have him fired in October 2021 because he exercised his right not to be a union member, and that Robert Basil officials followed through on this threat at IAM officials’ behest and terminated Duk less than a week later. Duk is receiving free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
Duk’s charges were submitted on January 31 to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law and adjudicating disputes among employers, unions, and individual employees. The charges state that on October 7, 2021 an IAM official demanded Duk sign paperwork authorizing union membership and dues deductions from his paycheck, threatening that Duk would be fired if he declined. Duk did not sign, and Robert Basil Buick GMC terminated him on October 12, 2021.
The charges contend that both practices are unlawful under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which safeguards private sector employees’ right to abstain from any or all union activities. However, because New York lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector employees, even if private sector employees such as Duk abstain from union membership they can still be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of keeping their jobs. In the 27 states with Right to Work protections, union membership and dues payments are strictly voluntary.
Under the Foundation-won 1988 CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision, private sector employees who refuse union membership in non-Right to Work states can never be forced to subsidize the political activities of a union they don’t support. In nearby Rochester, Foundation staff attorneys just won a settlement for a General Motors worker who charged United Auto Workers (UAW) union officials with illegally seizing dues for politics from his wages even after repeated demands that they respect his Beck rights. UAW officials have now been forced to refund all monies they took from him in violation of Beck.
“Union bosses threatening people’s jobs and livelihoods is no way to gain the support of the workers they claim to ‘represent,’” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “IAM union bosses’ willingness to violate longstanding law shows why all workers need the protection of a Right to Work law. In addition to formal union membership, financial support for a union should also be voluntary and the choice of each individual worker.”
“As AFL-CIO founder Samuel Gompers declared in one of his final speeches, voluntarism, not force, should be the bedrock for building union support,” Mix added.
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.