A nurse with the Genesys Regional Medical Center has sued her local Teamsters union for illegally demanding she pay them union fees as a condition of keeping her job.
That’s according to a lawsuit filed earlier this month in Genesee County Circuit by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which is providing pro-bono legal representation to Flint-area nurse Madrina Wells. Her employer, based in Grand Blanc Township, is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit because it seized union dues from her paycheck at the behest of Teamsters officials.
The lawsuit claims that both the Teamsters Local 332 union and Wells’ employer violated her rights under Michigan’s right-to-work law.
A press release explains that Wells resigned her union membership in February 2018 and asked her Teamsters officials to cease deducting union dues from her paycheck in December of that year. Her union bosses replied with a letter in January 2019 demanding that she pay nonmember “agency fees” once she returned from a medical leave of absence, which started in December 2018.
Attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation said that unions in states without right-to-work laws can collect a reduced amount of union dues from private sector employees who abstain from formal union membership, but no public or private sector employee is required to pay any amount of union fees as a condition of employment in right-to-work states like Michigan.
The complaint explains that Wells returned to work in July 2019 and sent her union bosses a notice “renewing her objection” to paying any dues or fees. Teamsters officials ignored her request and insisted that she was required to pay a portion of union fees as a condition of employment.
Union bosses demanded fees from Wells for the months of July through December 2019, according to the lawsuit. She submitted the fees as demanded, but replied each time to reiterate her objections. Additionally, the Genesys Regional Medical Center deducted the Teamsters union’s “agency fee” from Well’s paycheck in August, and seized union dues from her paycheck in October.
The lawsuit asks the court to require Teamsters officials to “end all illegal dues demands” and pay “damages and/or equitable restitution” to Wells for all seized dues, plus interest.
“Once again Michigan union bosses have been caught shamelessly violating Michigan’s Right to Work law,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix in a statement. “Foundation staff attorneys have litigated more than 100 cases in the Wolverine State since its Right to Work law was enacted, and will continue the fight until all Michigan workers can freely exercise their right not to fund unions with which they disagree.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation called Michigan a “hotbed for litigation” since the state enacted its right-to-work law in 2013.
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