While unions want employees to have a free choice to unionize, they typically do not want employees to have the same free choice in getting rid of an unwanted union. In many cases, unions will go to great lengths in trying to keep already-unionized employees in a union.
Here is one such case: In New Jersey, when employees petitioned to decertify 1199J, a chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municpal Employees (AFSCME), the union went to some extraordinary lengths to keep employees unionized.
Some of the union’s tactics were found to be in violation of the law–including the union’s attempt to cause the employee who filed the petition to decertify the union fired.
On October 10 and 11, 2013, the Union sent Alexis letters claiming that he owed $666.30 in unpaid dues and initiation fees and that under the applicable collective- bargaining agreement he was subject to discharge if he failed to tender the required dues and fees within 20 days. Neither letter explained how the Union had calculated Alexis’s alleged arrearage. It is undisputed that the calculation was inaccurate and that Alexis in fact had paid dues for at least some portion of the time he was employed. A copy of the October 11 letter was posted in the employee lunchroom.
Also on October 11, the Union sent the Employer a letterstating that Alexis was in violation of the union-security article and that the Union’s records showed he had not paid any initiation fee or dues since he was hired. The letter stated:“As per Article II-Union Security, [we are] requesting that Mr. Alexis be discharged effective October 31, 2013.”
On October 25, Union Vice President Richard Morreale and Administrative Organizer Alexie Hall met with unit employees at the Employer’s facility. At that meeting, the Uniondisseminated thethreat to have Alexis dischargedto at least three other employees. Hall and Morreale also stated that they wanted Alexis and employee Chi Chi Walker to work for the Union and would like to offer positions to them.
Here, the Union threatened to cause the discharge of the decertification petitioner less than a month before the election. Under the contractual union-security clause, the Union had the powerto cause employees’ discharge for nonpayment of dues, and the threat to do sowas likely to cause fear among employees, including Alexis, that their failure to support the Union could jeopardize their employment.
The NLRB has affirmed found sone (but not all) of the union’s actions to be unlawful and has ordered a new election.