Long Beach-area Savage Services employee Nelson Medina has won a settlement ordering Teamsters Local 848 union officials to pay back thousands of dollars in illegal dues they seized from about 60 of his coworkers who objected to union membership and to funding the union’s political activity. The settlement, won with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, was approved by National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 21 on February 14.
Because California lacks Right to Work protections, even private sector workers who oppose a union’s presence in their workplace can be required to pay union dues or fees to keep their jobs. However, under the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision, union officials can never require nonmembers to subsidize union political activity. Right to Work protections in 27 states so far ensure union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary.
Medina originally filed charges against Teamsters officials for illegal dues practices back in September 2021. The charges stated that he had sent Teamsters officials a letter on August 15 exercising his right to reject formal union membership. About a month after that letter, the charge noted, union officials informed Savage Services management by mail that if Medina and 12 fellow employees did not complete membership applications and pay full dues for the month of September, the employer should terminate the employees before September’s final week.
Medina’s August 2021 letter also demanded that union officials provide him his legal rights as a nonmember under the Foundation-won Beck Supreme Court decision. In addition to allowing workers to opt-out of funding union politics and other expenditures unrelated to the union’s bargaining functions, Beck also entitles nonmember workers to union financial disclosures.
The settlement, in addition to requiring Teamsters bosses to return nearly $6,000 in illegally taken dues to Savage Services employees, also mandates that union officials post a notice in the workplace. The notice declares that the union “will not fail to provide non-member employees with a breakdown of dues and fees required for Beck objectors upon request,” and that union bosses “will not threaten employees who have raised Beck objections with termination for failing to complete a union application as a condition of employment.”
“That Teamsters Local 848 officials illegally siphoned money for politics from almost 60 Savage Services employees and threatened termination of those who dared to stand up for their rights demonstrates clearly that they prioritize power far above the employees they claim to ‘represent,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Based on the sheer number of employees in Medina’s workplace who are receiving refunds as the result of this settlement, Teamsters officials apparently played fast and loose with the rights of all workers who objected to their agenda.”
“We will continue to stand by Medina in his struggle to ensure that Teamsters bosses’ coercive tricks do not subvert his and his fellow employees’ will and rights,” Mix added.
Last September, Foundation staff attorneys also aided Ventura, CA, Airgas employees in removing Teamsters Local 848 from their facility. After litigation that had lasted almost a year, as well as two submissions of petitions demonstrating a majority of workers at the plant wanted the Teamsters gone, union officials finally departed the plant. They did so just before the NLRB was slated to conduct a vote whether to remove the union at the plant, likely leaving to preempt an embarrassing rejection by the workers.
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.