Union ousted in employee-requested election despite its efforts to manipulate allegations against employer to stop vote

Minneapolis, MN  – After a year-and-a-half-long legal battle, Minneapolis metalworker Roger Downing and his coworkers at Minneapolis Washer and Stamping have successfully voted unpopular Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA) Local 1140 union officials out of their facility. Downing received free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) certified the election result in Downing’s workplace on July 20. Downing and his coworkers’ effort faced headwinds in 2021 after IUE-CWA union bosses filed election “blocking charges.” Those are often-unsubstantiated charges against employers that union officials frequently use to shut down employee-led efforts to vote unions out.

The NLRB adopted Foundation-backed reforms in 2020 that generally prevent such charges from stopping a decertification election. The reforms also provide that employees at least be allowed to cast ballots before allegations of misconduct surrounding the election are resolved.

Metalworkers Persist after IUE-CWA Union Boss Attempts to Stifle Vote

Downing first submitted a petition asking the NLRB to conduct a decertification vote in March 2021. IUE-CWA union lawyers quickly filed “blocking charges” alleging misdeeds by Minneapolis Washer and Stamping officials that were not even related to the employees’ desire for an election. NLRB Region 18 in Minneapolis, apparently ignoring the 2020 election rules curbing these oft-used union tactics, decided to block the election at the union officials’ behest.

Foundation attorneys representing Downing filed a Request for Review at the NLRB in Washington, DC, arguing that NLRB Region 18 had wrongfully disregarded the 2020 reforms to NLRB election rules. The Request for Review also pointed out that Region 18 blocked the election without holding an evidentiary hearing to determine whether there was any causal connection between IUE-CWA union officials’ claims and the employees’ desire to boot the union – a breach of NLRB precedent predating the 2020 rules.

Once union officials’ ability to block the election expired, Downing submitted a second decertification petition for his colleagues. The election result demonstrated that IUE-CWA union officials no longer have majority employee support, and consequently, that union officials can no longer impose their monopoly bargaining powers over the entire work unit. Downing and his fellow metalworkers are now free of the union.

Workers Across Minnesota Standing Up to Unwanted Unions

Downing and his coworkers’ successful ouster of the IUE-CWA union comes as other rank-and-file workers in the Gopher State are seeking Foundation aid in obtaining “decertification elections” to eliminate union representation that no longer serves their interests. Recently, hundreds of nurses at Mayo Clinic locations in Mankato and St. James voted by wide margins to eject Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) union officials and American Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union officials respectively.

Also, earlier this month, employees of Cuyuna Regional Medical Center facilities in the Brainerd Lakes region of Minnesota filed multiple petitions for elections to remove Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota from power.

Minnesota lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector employees. Thus, union officials can force even workers who reject formal union membership to pay some union dues or fees as a condition of staying employed. In contrast, all the states that border Minnesota and 23 others have Right to Work protections that ensure union membership and financial support are strictly voluntary.

“In Mr. Downing and his colleagues’ workplace we see yet another example of union officials unabashedly stifling the will of the workers they claim to ‘represent.’ Foundation attorneys were honored to aid Mr. Downing and his coworkers as they persisted for well over a year through litigation meant to stop them from kicking out an unpopular union,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix.

“Union association should never be forced, and Minnesota legislators should pass a Right to Work law to protect workers’ right to freely choose whether to join or fund a union,” Mix added.

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