Four Spokane-area United Parcel Service employees filed charges last week against their union for unfair labor practices.
According to the charges the employees filed with the National Labor Relations Board, the Teamsters Union, including Teamsters Local 690 in Spokane, did not deal properly with workers who returned to their jobs before last summer’s strike ended.
The charges, written by attorneys at the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, also claim the Teamsters contract with UPS was illegal because it required union membership “in good standing” as a condition of employment.
Teamsters Local 690 declined to comment on the charges.
The complaints stem from the 15-day strike last summer involving 185,000 UPS part-time and full-time workers nationwide.
After two weeks on strike, UPS driver Denny Davy of Colville said he decided to return to work, sent the Teamsters a letter resigning from the union and returned to his route.
“I did not feel the Teamsters were representing us,” Davy said in an interview, adding he was frustrated at not getting a chance to vote on the UPS’s last offer. “They didn’t give me a choice one way or the other.”
Though he only worked one day before the strike ended, he was reprimanded by the union and in October was summoned to a hearing at the Spokane local. The other three workers cited similar experiences.
“That’s unlawful internal union discipline,” said Stephan Gleason of the legal defense foundation. “They were not voluntary formal members of the union. They are not subject to internal discipline.”
The discipline could include fining workers up to 150 percent of their pay for each day they worked, he said.
“They’re trying to punish them,” Gleason said. “Secondly, they’re doing it to try to send a message to everybody else.”
Teamsters Local 690 is among numerous locals being charged with unfair practices. “We currently have something like 80 unfair labor practice charges on the books for similar types of unlawful retribution,” said Gleason. If the NLRB finds the charges have merit, a trial will be held before an administrative law judge in Washington state to decide if workers’ rights were violated.
The legal defense foundation representing the workers is a nonprofit organization that offers free legal aid to those who feel unions have violated their rights.