Mackinac Center Legal Foundation lawsuit prompts policy change
A Teamsters union that represents city of Dearborn workers is backing down from a policy of charging non-union employees a fee for filing a grievance.
The reversal comes after the Teamsters initially tried to punish and intimidate employees who exercised their rights to leave the union as part of the state's right-to-work law. After being taken to court over its actions, the Teamsters Local 214 ended its policy of charging non-union employees $150 for filing a grievance.
The union filed paperwork with the court on Friday. It is unlikely the Teamsters would have been successful defending the policy in court. In a 1944 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held that unions cannot discriminate against any members of a bargaining unit because the unions have been granted a monopoly as the exclusive bargaining representative.
"We are gratified that Teamsters Local 214 decided to actually comply with the law rather than fight to discriminate against the very people they represent," said Derk Wilcox, senior attorney for the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, which is representing three Dearborn city workers in the case.
Under the state's right-to-work law, employees cannot be required to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment.
Teamsters Local 214's policy of charging non-union employees dated back only a few months. On June 10, the union's president, Joseph Valenti, signed the policy and it officially took effect July 1, just three months after the right-to-work law went into effect.
The way the policy worked, all employees were to be assessed the $150 fee for filing a grievance, but the fee was waived for dues-paying union members. Valenti was quoted in the Washington Free Beacon as saying the workers who filed the lawsuit against the union were "committing suicide."
A video about the case:
(Editor's note: This story has been slightly edited since its original posting.)