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Happiest Union On Earth? Teamsters Violated Disney Parks Workers’ Labor Law Rights

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The Teamsters union has yet again been found by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to have violated the rights of its own members. On June 20, the agency issued an order finding violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by the union.

 

At issue in the case were employees of Disney amusement parks in Florida who were represented by the Teamsters union. The employees drafted letters, made telephone calls, and even attempted in-person meetings with the union regarding revoking their union dues authorization cards (i.e., the employees potentially no longer wanted to have union dues deducted from their paychecks). The Teamsters failed to timely respond or otherwise honor the various employees’ requests to resign their union memberships and stop paying dues. The NLRB found the Teamsters’ conduct violated the NLRA because it restrained and coerced the employees’ right to refrain from union membership. Florida is a right-to-work state, which means employees cannot be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment with a company.

 

Right-to-work laws are permitted under Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act and make it unlawful for companies to require union dues as a condition of employment. In states where right-to-work laws are not enacted, most unionized employers have clauses in their labor agreements that require dues payments as a condition of employment – the clauses generally are known as “union seniority clauses.” At present, 28 states have right-to-work laws on the books. The National Right to Work Foundation maintains a current list.

 

This case serves as an important reminder that in right-to-work states, unions must timely honor an employee’s choice to resign her/his union membership. Failure to honor the request is a violation of the NLRA.

David Pryzbylski

Recently recognized as one of the top under-40 labor lawyers in the nation by Law360, David J. Pryzbylski’s interest in labor relations began early in high school, having grown up next to several of the largest steel mills in the world. Today, David is a Partner in Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Labor & Employment Department. Building on his interest in labor relations, he concentrates a large portion of his practice on assisting employers with traditional labor matters, including collective bargaining; work stoppages; arbitrations; union avoidance training and strategies; union representation elections; unfair labor practice charges; contract administration; and various other labor relations issues.

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