In March 2022, after car dealership employee Remmington Duk filed federal charges against International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Automotive (IAM) Lodge 447, union officials agreed to pay him $16,916. Mr. Duk now has also won a settlement from Robert Basil Buick GMC for $1,500 for firing him at the IAM union officials’ behest because he exercised his right not to be a union member. Both unfair labor practice charges were filed for Mr. Duk with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys.
Mr. Duk’s charges were filed on January 31, 2022, with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act and adjudicates disputes among private sector employers, unions, and individual employees. The charges recited that on October 7, 2021, an IAM official demanded that Mr. Duk sign paperwork authorizing union membership, threatening that he would be fired if he declined. Mr. Duk refused to sign and Robert Basil Buick GMC then terminated him on October 12, 2021.
Because New York lacks Right to Work protections for private sector employees, unions can force them to pay union fees as a condition of keeping their jobs. However, under Communications Workers v. Beck, a U.S. Supreme Court decision won by Foundation staff attorneys, formal union membership cannot be required, nor can payment of the part of dues used for non-bargaining expenditures like union political activities. In contrast, in the 27 states with Right to Work protections, union membership and financial support are strictly voluntary.
To make Mr. Duk’s federal unfair labor practice charge go away, the IAM union not only paid him $16,916, but also posted a notice in his workplace for a 60 day period informing other workers of their right not to be union members, and agreed to inform future new employees of that right. A similar notice will be posted by Mr. Duk’s employer, per the new settlement’s terms.
“National Right to Work attorneys will continue to defend workers who are threatened by union officials for exercising their rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Employers who carry out unlawful orders at the bidding of union officials will similarly be held accountable by Foundation attorneys providing free legal representation to the victims of such schemes.”
“Ultimately, this case shows why New York workers need the protection of a Right to Work law to make all union payments strictly voluntary,” Mix added.