A West Virginia union will only receive a slap on the wrist after falsely telling employees they were required to pay union dues after a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board.
West Virginia is a right-to-work state, which means no worker is required to join a union and pay dues as a condition of employment. Despite this law, union officials provided employees with dues checkoff authorization forms, which inaccurately told employees in large letters the form “must be signed.”
Kroger employee Shelby Krocker filed unfair labor practice charges against the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 union. Although NLRB Region 6 initially rejected her case, she successfully appealed it to former NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb who found the union did violate state law.
An NLRB administrative judge failed to find the union guilty, but then she appealed that ruling to the NLRB, which supported her case. While the case was still pending, President Joe Biden ousted Robb and appointed Peter Ohr to be the acting general counsel, who imposed a light settlement for the case.
Although the union is not allowed to demand dues be paid, the union will not have to provide full remedy to workers who were misled. The union will not be required to notify employees they were originally misled on the form and return their dues.
Krocker’s lawyers, who provided free legal counsel through the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, called the decision “bare political attempts to strip the Board of its ability to hear the important issues raised in this case” and said it violated the board’s own rules.
“Thanks to President Biden’s unprecedented, partisan attack on the NLRB’s independence by removing General Counsel Robb and replacing him with Peter Ohr, along with NLRB members who were unwilling to go to bat for individual worker rights, union bosses have once again been able to escape legal accountability for their actions,” National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix said in a statement. “UFCW bosses intentionally misled workers into thinking they were required to pay union dues, even though West Virginia is a Right to Work state. Thanks to union bosses’ new ally in the General Counsel’s office and the compliant board, other workers whose rights were violated like Krocker’s are receiving no remedy.”
Patrick Semmens, the vice president of the foundation, told The Center Square that the board unfortunately has a lot of discretion in its decision making. However, he said he hopes one of Krocker’s colleagues files a case if they were misled and seeking a refund of the dues they were wrongly told they had to pay.
Semmens said Ohr was put in by Biden to do the bidding of union bosses and he fears workers rights will only get worse as more Biden appointees are put in.
The union did not respond to a request for comment from The Center Square.