Danone North America Worker Presses Federal Charges Against Union for Illegally Confiscating Money From Paycheck

On July 11, 2023, Alex Botello, a worker of food manufacturer Danone North America based in Dallas, pressed federal charges against the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 540 union after union bosses illegally confiscated union dues from his paycheck. Botello filed his charges at Region 16 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Dallas. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation provided Botello with free legal aid. 

Botello’s charge claims that UFCW bosses rejected or ignored his two attempts to rescind a dues checkoff authorization. Botello argues that the union’s actions violated his rights outlined by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which is supposedly designed to protect American private sector workers’ right to withdraw from union activity.

Due to how Texas is a Right to Work state, UFCW union officials don;t have the legal authority to extract money from Botello as a condition of employment. Right to Work laws provide more robust protections for workers than the NLRA by making union membership and all union dues payment  voluntary for employees in the private sector. In non-Right to Work states, by contrast, union bosses can compel workers to pay some union due as a condition of acquiring or maintaining employment.

Per Botello’s charge, he first attempted to halt dues deductions from his paycheck in October 2022. The UFCW rejected his request in a letter, which highlighted that his attempt was done in an untimely manner and that he could only reverse his dues checkoff during a tight union-created “window period” lasting from March 27, 2023, until April 11, 2023.

On April 3, 2023, Botello resubmitted his revocation request within the “window period” that the union specified. That said, the union still collected dues from his paycheck. “The Union’s failure to accept Charging Party’s timely revocation letter and immediately cease deducting dues violates the National Labor Relations Act,”  Botello’s charge stated.

In another instance, Botello and his fellow employees submitted two petitions to the NLRB, calling on the agency for a vote to kick out, or “decertify,” the UFCW union. On August 29, 2022, Botello submitted the first petition. However, regional NLRB officials rejected the petition at UFCW bosses’ request. NLRB officials asserted that a contract ratified by union bosses and management in 2019 would stay in effect until November 15, 2022. According to the NLRB’s non-statutory “contract bar” policy, union bosses can prevent workers from asserting their right to kick them out of a workplace for up to three years after a contract is finalized.

Botello submitted the second petition after the expiration of the 2019 union contract. He did so basing it on the NLRB Region’s decision on the first petition finding that the 2019 contract went operative on August 29, the day Botello submitted the first petition. That said, regional NLRB officials blocked the second petition arguing that a more recent contract had actually been effective since August 25. This contradicts the regional NLRB decision blocking the first petition, as that decision relied on the conclusion that the 2019 contract was operating on August 29, not the union’s August 25 contract.

Botello submitted requests for review taking on the Region’s dismissals of both petitions.  The NLRB granted Botello’s requests and instructed Region 16 to take another look at these cases.

“The situation at the Dallas Danone plant illustrates how far UFCW union bosses, and in many instances NLRB officials, are willing to go to trap workers under union monopoly control and forced dues, even when there’s clear evidence that workers do not support them,” declared National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Any worker under UFCW control who experiences similar infringements of their rights should not hesitate to reach out to the Foundation for free legal aid.”

Unions are not harmless actors. They’re parasitic entities that line the pockets of union bosses and provide shock troops to the Democratic Party. Their whole essence is predicated on coercion, which ultimately requires the Right to use proactive legislation and litigation to limit these entities’ influence.

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