A Minneapolis, Minnesota based union that represents teamsters is facing a complaint from the National Labor Relations board for allegedly violating the rights of one of the union members.
The union member had requested information pursuant to a 1988 Supreme Court decision that allows members to opt-out of paying for the group’s political expenditures. In order to help union members exercise that right, the National Labor Relations Board created a protocol to help members find out what the union is spending its money on and then decrease their contribution if they did not wish to help fund political activities such as lobbying or campaign donations.
In this case, the union member says that the disclosure was inadequate and that the union made it harder for him to pay the remaining portion of his dues after he opted out, by not allowing continued automatic paycheck deductions.
The two sides must come to an agreement within the next month, otherwise the case will be heard by an administrative law judge.
Unions can be incredibly helpful to workers, advocating for their rights and helping them to secure better wages and a fair benefits package. However, workers must also have a voice in the union process and must be able to freely express their concerns and other opinions in order for the process to work and to fairly represent all its members. For some union members, political spending by the organization may not align with their personal views or interests, which is why the ability to opt-out of paying for those activities is important.
Source: Pioneer Press, “Complaint filed against Minneapolis union,” Sarah Horner, Nov. 28, 2012.