Teamsters Local 214 Capitulates on Discriminatory Policy Against Dearborn Employees Who Exercised Worker Freedom Rights

Union agrees to follow ‘the laws of the State of Michigan and the United States’ in modified policy

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013
Ted O'Neil
Media Relations Manager

MIDLAND — Teamsters Local 214 has filed paperwork in Wayne County Circuit Court in response to a Mackinac Center Legal Foundation lawsuit against the union, indicating that it has abandoned a discriminatory policy meant to punish those who exercise their worker freedom rights. The Teamsters told the court that it “admits that the policy … is no longer in effect.”

“As we said from the beginning, the union’s actions were a spiteful reaction to workers lawfully exercising their independence,” said Patrick J. Wright, MCLF executive director. “We are pleased to see that they gave in and changed the policy rather than try to fight it in court, but the fact remains that they were wrong to target our clients in such a manner.”

The MCLF in August filed suit on behalf of four city of Dearborn employees over a policy the union adopted on June 10 that would have charged at least $150 for non-members to file a grievance. The Teamsters in September posted a modified policy, with the same effective date of July 1 as the original one, stating “any charges the Union will require related to the processing of grievances will be assessed on a non-discriminatory basis.”

The modified policy also states that “In all respects, the Union will represent all members of the bargaining unit consistent with the requirements of the laws of the State of Michigan and the United States.”

Teamsters Local 214 filed its paperwork telling the court that it would not discriminate against employees who exercised their worker freedom rights on Dec. 6, which, fittingly, was the one-year anniversary of the Michigan Legislature passing right-to-work. Today marks the one-year anniversary since the legislation was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The Teamsters’ original policy contained a disclaimer stating “This policy may be altered as needed to comply with applicable law.”

MCLF Senior Attorney Derk Wilcox pointed out when the lawsuit was filed that the union’s policy “flies in the face of seven decades of Supreme Court precedence and five decades of Michigan labor law.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1944 that unions cannot discriminate against any members of a bargaining unit because they are granted a monopoly as exclusive bargaining representative. The MCLF’s clients, even though they no longer belong to the union, must by law surrender their right to represent themselves regarding terms and conditions of employment due to the union’s monopoly on exclusive representation.

“The cost of that monopoly is that unions have to represent all workers equally, including those who resign from the union under right-to-work laws,” Wilcox said.

Teamsters Local 214 President Joseph Valenti told The Washington Free Beacon that he believed the MCLF’s clients were “committing suicide” and that “We’ll go to court if we have to and take it to the last.”

“It appears that Mr. Valenti had a change of heart once he read our suit and sought legal counsel,” Wright said. “We welcome his capitulation, but unfortunately this probably isn’t the last of union attacks on the rights of workers.”

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. The largest state-based free-market think tank in the country celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.


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