With free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, employees in Michigan and Arkansas have freed themselves from unwanted union control in their workplaces.
In votes tallied on March 2, LaRon Matlock and his fellow industrial cleaning workers at PowerVac near Detroit, MI, and Cory Smith and his coworkers at chemical company Evonik-Porocel in Little Rock, AR, successfully voted to remove (or “decertify”) International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 324 and Teamsters Local 878 union bosses, respectively.
Foundation staff attorneys provided the workers free representation in exercising their right to hold votes whether to remove the unions. The elections were conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law and adjudicating disputes among unions, private sector employers, and individual employees. Matlock and his PowerVac colleagues booted IUOE officials by a whopping 18-3 margin, while Smith and his coworkers at Evonik-Porocel voted 26-5 to remove Teamsters officials.
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 the same year, now forbid union officials and their lawyers from indefinitely stalling worker-requested votes based on so-called “blocking charges.” Such charges are usually allegations against an employer that are unproven and unrelated to workers’ desire to oust union officials, but were filed simply to delay decertification elections.
Matlock and his Detroit-area coworkers’ ouster of IUOE Local 324 officials is particularly notable as officials of the same union local are viciously fighting a Foundation-backed decertification effort from Rieth-Riley Construction Company employee Rayalan Kent and his coworkers. Kent submitted a petition for a decertification election in August 2020 signed by his colleagues, but IUOE officials tried to avert the vote by levying “blocking charges” against the company.
Even though the Foundation-backed “blocking charge” reforms should have rendered IUOE officials’ stall tactics invalid, an NLRB Regional Director nevertheless blocked the vote at IUOE bosses’ behest. While a Foundation-supported appeal to the NLRB in Washington, DC, is pending in Kent’s case, IUOE officials are still imposing a years-long strike order on Rieth-Riley workers. Multiple workers have charged union officials with illegal dues practices and other malfeasance.
Teamsters officials, who were just dismissed by Smith and his colleagues at Evonik-Porocel, have been frequent targets of Foundation-assisted workers in recent months. 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, with Foundation legal assistance, to decertify unpopular Teamsters local unions.
The spurt of worker-led decertifications comes as federal government officials, especially Biden-appointed NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, are pushing to give union officials radically increased power to install themselves in workplaces and remain in power even over worker opposition.
Abruzzo revealed in a memo released shortly after assuming office that she would take steps toward eliminating secret-ballot worker votes as the primary method of certifying a union in favor of “card checks.” The “card check” process lets union officials use intimidation and misinformation to get workers to sign “union cards” that supposedly indicate support for a union. The same memo suggested Abruzzo favors overturning, among other Board precedents, a 2019 decision making it easier for workers to escape union ranks when a clear majority opposes unionization.
“The Foundation is proud to help workers across the country, including Mr. Matlock and Mr. Smith, just get a vote on whether union officials deserve to remain in power at their jobs,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Unfortunately, it is increasingly apparent that the Biden NLRB, and in particular GC Abruzzo, have every intention of reducing the rights of independent-minded workers by making it easier for union bosses to add workers to union ranks while limiting workers’ ability to escape them.”
“The NLRB should not neglect its mandate to protect the free choice rights of workers, and Foundation attorneys will always assist workers in resisting union attempts to undermine those rights,” 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.