The Charlotte Observer Posted on Tue, Jan. 28, 2003 Legal defense foundation files suit over UPS-Teamsters contract Associated Press RALEIGH, N.C. - A legal defense foundation filed charges with a labor board on Tuesday challenging a contract signed by United Parcel Service and the Teamsters union. The contract, which was negotiated last July, covers more than 200,000 employees of the package delivery company and gives them a 22 percent pay raise over the next six years. Attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation say the contract also illegally requires company officials to pressure workers to join the union. The foundation filed the complaint on behalf of Douglas Ragone, a UPS employee and non-union member who lives in Raleigh. He could not be reached for comment. Employees working in the 22 states with right-to-work laws, including North Carolina, have the right to refuse union affiliation without interference from the union or the employer, the foundation said in its filing with the National Labor Relations Board. "Teamsters officials are afraid to let workers choose for themselves; they know that without the fear of coercion workers will reject unionization," said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. Calls to local Teamsters officials and UPS representatives were not immediately returned Tuesday evening. The NLRB will determine whether to investigate the charges. The package delivery giant and the union signed the contract July 16 - averting a repeat of the two-week strike in 1997 that cost the company $750 million. The deal was approved by 72 percent of the union membership. National Right to Work News Release National Agreement Between Teamsters Union and UPS Illegally Undermines Right to Work Laws Company agrees to coerce UPS workers to join the union despite law January 28, 2003 Raleigh, NC (January 28, 2003) Attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation today filed an employees legal challenge to the national contract signed by United Parcel Services (UPS) and the Teamsters union that illegally requires company officials to pressure tens of thousands of workers to join the union. Employees laboring in Americas 22 Right to Work states have the right to refrain from union affiliation without interference from officials of a union or an employer. Douglas Ragone, a non-union member, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against UPS and the Teamsters. The NLRB is responsible for investigating the charges and will decide whether to prosecute the union and UPS. A contract provision requires UPS officials in Right to Work states to tell new employees that they should become full dues-paying union members. Ragone is challenging the agreement because the National Labor Relations Act prohibits employers from supporting unions and coercing employees into joining them. Teamsters officials are afraid to let workers choose for themselves; they know that without the fear of coercion workers will reject unionization, said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. In running afoul of federal statutes, the agreement violates the spirit of North Carolinas highly popular Right to Work law. Also, a state Right to Work law frees workers from being forced to join or to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Teamsters officials wrote this agreement as a direct assault on Right to Work laws around the country, stated Gleason. As more workers enjoy the benefits of a Right to Work law, union bosses are turning to more strong-arm tactics to take away their freedoms. The Unions' Water Carrier The language in question from the new master agreement, which affects new hires in right to work states is provided under Article 3, Section 2(b): In those states where subsection (a) above may not be validly applied, the Employer agrees to recommend to all new employees that they become members of the Union and maintain such membership during the life of this Agreement. Emboldened by the green light given by the U.S. Supreme Court for upholding misleading "member in good standing" language in union-security clauses in 1998, the IBT makes a pathetic attempt to undermine right to work laws. This clause was probably inserted to appease the AFL-CIO for combating Oklahoma's fairly new right to work law and the possible passage of similar laws in other states. Hoffa was also under pressure from organized labor to produce standards other unions could use in their own upcoming contract negotiations with employers. Union membership should be completely voluntary and the company should not have to carry the water for the union. No doubt, the company agreed to this to maintain the so-called "labor peace." The union must have been pretty desperate to want this language in the contract. Even with a plethora of special government-granted privileges, the fear of losing potential and existing members must be high. This language should be expunged from the recently ratified CBA because it tramples all over individual rights under the First Amendment.