An administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled against Wisconsin metal fabrication company Metalcraft’s union busting tactics and has ordered the company to pay back union dues owed to IAM Local 2053 of Iron Ridge, WI.
The judge found that Metalcraft broke federal law by canceling IAM Local 2053 members’ voluntary dues “checkoff” – the system whereby an employer regularly deducts a portion of an employee’s wages to pay union dues or initiation fees.
Metalcraft suspended members’ checkoff on June 4, 2016, under its wishful interpretation of Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, which went into effect in 2015.
IAM District 10 immediately filed charges with Region 18 of NLRB, and the region issued an official complaint in September 2016 alleging Metalcraft was in direct violation of the federal National Labor Relations Act, which allows voluntary dues checkoff for collective bargaining employees.
The judge’s ruling states that Metalcraft committed several unfair labor practices by its refusal to check off union dues, failing to bargain in good faith and attempting to undermine the union by bargaining with union employees directly.
Metalcraft must pay all union dues it refused to collect dating back to June 4 – plus interest.
“While Wisconsin law allows revocation of a dues-checkoff authorization upon 30-days’ notice, federal law permits dues-checkoff agreements that are irrevocable for one year,” said NLRB Administrative Law Judge Charles J. Muhl. “The two provisions are directly at odds with one another. I conclude that the provisions of Wisconsin’s law addressing that topic are preempted.”
“This is no doubt a great decision for Wisconsin workers,” said IAM District 10 Directing Business Representative Alex Hoekstra. “I’d like to thank Region 18, my staff and, most importantly, our members at Metalcraft for their solidarity and patience during this battle.”
“It’s not complicated,” said Hoekstra in a previous report. “Metalcraft’s unilateral decision to cancel dues checkoff takes a page out of Scott Walker and his cronies’ playbook for hurting Wisconsin workers. The company hid behind an intentionally misleading right-to-work law, whose dues deduction provisions are preempted by federal law. Wisconsin families have paid dearly for Walker’s arrogance, now Metalcraft can pay for their union busting tactics. Management’s plan was destined to fail from the start. Instead of destroying us, our proud members are stronger than ever.”
Metalcraft employs approximately 370 IAM members, who make lawn mower decks for Scag Power Equipment and John Deere.
“Congratulations to the members of IAM Local 2053 and District 10 on the administrative law judge’s ruling,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Philip J. Gruber. “Thank you to Directing Business Representative Alex Hoekstra and his staff for your leadership, diligence and hard work. Since the passage of Wisconsin’s unfair right-to-work law, you have consistently gone to bat time and time again for working families. And time and time again, you’ve won. Today anti-union companies, Scott Walker and the state GOP are on notice – right-to-work is wrong for working families. And the Fighting Machinists will never back down.”
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