Lab technicians at Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital in Michigan, have finally won their effort to be free of unwanted so-called” representation” by union officials of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 40. After workers secured a decertification vote over union officials’ objections, the union disclaimed interest in representing the bargaining unit rather than face a vote of the workers they had claimed to “represent.”

Ascension workers Alyse Gschwender and Delaney Warren received free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys during the decertification process before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The petition for the vote to remove OPEIU officials, which signed by numerous Ascension lab technicians, was filed April 6, 2022, by Ms. Warren. After she took a position outside of the bargaining unit, Ms. Gschwender became the petitioner.

During the protracted process, Foundation staff attorneys successfully fought off OPEIU union lawyers’ efforts to block the vote cited the pending sale of the facility by Ascension to LabCorp as grounds for rejecting the workers’ request for an election. Union lawyers had urged the NLRB to block a vote whether to remove the union on the grounds of an upcoming “cessation of operations” by the employer, a policy previously applied only to certification elections.

In briefs to the NLRB Foundation staff attorneys countered that such grounds for blocking the vote were unjustified both as a matter of law and considering the facts of Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital’s announcement regarding the potential transfer of the operation to LabCorp. Foundation attorneys also noted that the attempt to block the vote was likely a cynical attempt to keep power over the bargaining unit, because if the sale ultimately went through the union would have likely sought to block a decertification vote citing the NLRB-created “successor bar” that insulates union officials from decertification votes after an employer’s change in ownership.

The Board rejected the union lawyers’ arguments and scheduled a decertification vote by mail-in ballot with the votes set to be counted later this month. However, rather than go forward with a vote they apparently knew they were going to lose, OPEIU officials instead disclaimed interest in the unit, finally giving the workers the freedom from unwanted union representation they sought.

Because Michigan is one of 27 states with Right to Work protections for private sector employees, unions cannot force workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of keeping their jobs. However, even in Right to Work states union officials are empowered to impose monopoly representation on entire units of workers even over the objections of many workers within the unit, necessitating decertification elections to remove unwanted union “representation.”

“No worker anywhere should be forced under a union’s so-called ‘representation’ against their will. Foundation staff attorneys stand ready to provide legal aid to workers wanting to hold a decertification election to oust a union they oppose and believe they would be better off without,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This case shows the lengths union lawyers will go to block workers from even holding votes to remove a union, even when union officials know that the vote will likely demonstrate that most workers want nothing to do with the union.”

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