Nonunion Carpenters Punished


Former union carpenters resigned their membership to work at a nonunion business, and were retaliated against by the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters and their local, just because they wanted to work.  The alternative was to remain a union member and remain out of work.

Unfair labor practice charges have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board against the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters and its Local 308 union.  The charges were filed by workers, with free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, who faced retaliation from union officials after they resigned their union membership.

The workers are carpenters and resigned their membership in Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters Local 308 on June 23, 2014.  They then found employment with Lehman & Associates Concrete, Inc. in Boone, Iowa.

On August 1, 2014, the union filed internal discipline charges against the workers for finding work at Lehman and Associates, which is a union free workplace, despite the fact that workers who exercise their right to resign formal union membership can no longer be subjected to internal union discipline procedures.

Despite these long-standing federal protections, in March of 2015 the workers were notified by union officials that they would be “tried” at a union tribunal in Chicago.  They declined to participate in the illegal “union” court and the results of the trial have not been disclosed by the union.  However the two workers continue to face charges from union officials as their case is being passed up the union chain of command for further review.

Federal law and Supreme Court precedent make it clear that any worker has the right to resign his union membership at any time, for any reason.  While fully voluntary union members can face discipline from union officials, the law is very clear that nonmembers are not subject to such retaliatory discipline, which often includes fines that in some cases are as high as tens of thousands of dollars.

“Intimidation and retaliation against workers at the hands of union bosses is unfortunately too commonplace,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation.  “This case illustrates the measures union bosses are willing to take to cling to their forced-dues power and retaliate against workers who simply wanted to make a living and support their families rather than maintain their union membership that was keeping them unemployed.”