Long Beach-area Savage Services employee Nelson Medina charged Teamsters Local 848 union bosses this week with threatening to have him fired for refusing to join the union, pay full dues, and pay other fees demanded by union officials. Savage Services in Wilmington, CA near Long Beach is a transportation company.
The Globe reported on Medina in July when he asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC to review an NLRB Regional Director’s decision to cast aside his objections to a mail-in ballot election at his workplace forced by Teamsters Local 848 union officials.
Teamsters officials pushed to have a 2020 union representation vote by mail instead of in-person, despite only 126 eligible voters. Medina found evidence of the union using the system to illegally solicit ballots. “The solicitation of mail ballots casts doubt on the integrity of the election and the secrecy of employees’ ballots,” the brief said.
The charges were filed federally at National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 21 in Los Angeles. Medina is receiving pro-bono legal representation from National Right to Work Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
With the charges filed with the NLRB, the National Right to Work Defense Foundation details the case:
Medina’s charges come amid a flurry of Foundation-backed legal action by California workers against Teamsters Local 848. Medina himself filed a Request for Review this July at the NLRB in Washington, DC, challenging a dubious mail-vote process Teamsters officials pushed to gain monopoly bargaining power at his workplace. According to Medina’s Request for Review, at least 12 of his coworkers never had their votes counted in the election due to errors by the NLRB Region and postal service, though union lawyers somehow produced tracking numbers for two ballots that were originally considered late and demanded they be included in the count. Medina argued this indicated illegal ballot harvesting by union officials.
If this seems a little deja vu, earlier this week the Globe reported on how Teamsters Local 848 was also forced to depart Airgas worker Angel Herrera’s Ventura, CA, workplace after he and his coworkers filed a petition for an NLRB-administered vote to remove the union from the workplace.
Medina’s charges recount that he sent Teamsters officials a letter on August 15 exercising his right to reject formal union membership. His letter also demanded that union officials provide him his rights as a nonmember under the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision, which prohibits union officials from requiring nonmembers as a condition of employment to pay anything to the union beyond fees directly related to bargaining expenses.
Because California lacks Right to Work protections, private sector workers who oppose a union’s presence in their workplace can still be required to pay union fees to keep their jobs. Right to Work protections in 27 states ensure union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary.
In an attempt to work around California’s lack of Right to Work, Medina and his coworkers have submitted a petition with sufficient signatures to prompt the NLRB to hold a “deauthorization vote,” after which union officials (even in a state without Right to Work) would be stripped of their forced-dues power if a simple majority of workers vote to do so.
About a month after Medina’s August letter, the charge notes, union officials informed Savage Services management by mail that if Medina and 12 fellow employees did not complete membership applications and submit full dues for the month of September, they should be terminated before September’s final week.
Medina’s charge argues that the union’s attempt to force him into full membership, full dues payment, payment of other non-legally-required fees, and the tiny window union officials gave him to comply with their demands despite not directly giving him notice are all glaring violations of his rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The charge also asks the NLRB to seek an immediate stop to union officials’ coercive actions, demanding injunctive relief for Medina and the 12 others under Section 10(j) of the NLRA. The charge cites “the imminent threat of termination” and “the pending deauthorization petition in this bargaining unit” as reasons injunctive relief must be granted.
“Teamsters Local 848 officials seem to be on a rampage throughout Southern California, brazenly violating the rights of any workers who dare to object to their one-size-fits-all bargaining power and forced-dues demands,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said. “Even amidst vehement worker opposition, Teamsters officials have repeatedly shown a preference for compulsion over trying to persuade workers to support them voluntarily.”
“Mr. Medina has been courageous in his continuing struggle to ensure that union coercion and legal finagling don’t determine the fate of his and his coworkers’ freedom in the workplace, and we are proud to support him in his efforts,” Mix added.
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