Michigan Hospital Employees Win Settlement After SEIU Union Bosses Blocked Workers from Exercising Right to Work

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Union bosses ignored Michigan’s Right to Work law and continued to collect forced dues from seven Mercy Memorial Hospital workers

Monroe, Michigan (July 23, 2015) – Seven workers at Mercy Memorial Hospital in Monroe, MI have won a settlement from Service Employees International Union Local 79 (SEIU) in a case challenging SEIU officials’ failure to obey Michigan’s new Right to Work law and accept the workers’ revocation of a union dues checkoff scheme.

James McGregor, Anna Serra, Mary Sancrainte, Nancy Krueger, Janice Noel, Anna Hoffman, and Susan Harrison, with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against SEIU Local 79 in February of this year.

All seven workers had been members of the union. In late November 2014, the monopoly bargaining agreement between Local 79 and Mercy Memorial Hospital expired. In the weeks just before and after the contract expired, all seven workers resigned union membership and attempted to exercise their new workplace rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law to refrain from paying Local 79 any fees as nonmembers.

After a delay, on January 27, 2015, SEIU Local 79 officials accepted the seven workers’ resignations, but rejected the dues checkoff revocations of five of them, continuing to have union dues automatically deducted from their paychecks. Union officials claimed that the method -- fax not registered mail -- by which the five submitted their dues revocations did not satisfy a bureaucratic requirement imposed by the union.

Thus, these five workers were denied their right to refrain from paying fees to a union, a violation of Michigan’s Right to Work law. Moreover, for one worker, Krueger, the harassment by union officials was even worse. Upon Krueger’s resignation from the union and submission of her dues revocation, union officials produced what appeared to be a forged dues checkoff authorization form which they claimed Krueger had signed in 2013. However, Krueger did not sign any such form in 2013, and the signature appearing on the form is not hers.

Now the workers have prevailed. The settlement recognizes all seven workers as nonmembers, accepts their dues checkoff revocations, and requires Local 79 to reimburse the workers for various amounts of dues deducted after they resigned and revoked.

Here is a clear demonstration that even with Right to Work protections, workers are never free from harassment and intimidation by union bosses,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Passing Right to Work laws is only the first step in protecting the workplace rights of all workers. Without stringent enforcement of Right to Work laws, union bosses will create illegal hurdles or outright ignore workers’ attempts to cut off all dues and fees, as is their right in the 25 states with Right to Work protections.”

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