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    Setting Brushfires of Freedom by Don Jans

    Ventura, CA | Airgas Employees Free From Unwanted Union After Teamsters Flee Workplace To Avoid Vote

    07Ventura, CA (September 17, 2021) – Following Airgas USA employee Angel Herrera and his coworkers’ yearlong effort seeking to end the union’s control at their workplace, Teamsters Local 848 officials have filed documents with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ending their monopoly bargaining power over all workers at the Airgas Glass Welding and Safety Products facility in Ventura. Herrera and his colleagues received free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys in filing a petition for a vote to oust Teamsters union officials.

    Airgas Ventura employees’ effort began in 2020, when they submitted a petition asking Airgas management to rescind recognition of Teamsters Local 848. Though Airgas management prepared to withdraw recognition as the majority of employees had requested, Teamsters officials filed unfair labor practice charges against Airgas soon after in an attempt to retain power over the employees at the facility despite the employees’ overwhelming opposition to the union.

    What followed was months of litigation at the NLRB, the federal agency charged with enforcing most private sector labor law. Ultimately the NLRB forced Airgas to recognize the Teamsters union and the union’s “representation” was imposed back on the employees.

    Herrera and his coworkers tried again to get Teamsters union chiefs out of their workplace this summer by filing a “decertification petition” with the NLRB. Herrera’s petition, filed on August 30, contained signatures from enough of his coworkers to trigger an NLRB-supervised “decertification election,” a secret-ballot election after which union officials lose monopoly bargaining power if a majority of workers vote to remove them.  

    Before a decertification election was scheduled, however, Teamsters officials instead disclaimed interest in maintaining control over the workplace on September 13, in an apparent attempt to spare themselves the embarrassment of an overwhelming vote by workers to reject the union’s so-called “representation.”

    This is just the latest in a series of successful worker efforts to oust unwanted union officials aided by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys. Earlier this summer, maintenance worker Tim Mangia and his coworkers at Chicago’s Rush University filed a decertification petition with free Foundation legal aid and voted out another Teamsters affiliate, Local 743, from their workplace by a more than 70-30 margin.

    Relatedly, just last month in Las Vegas, Foundation staff attorneys filed an amicus brief for a Red Rock Casino worker contesting a federal judge’s order that casino management submit to bargaining talks with Culinary Union officials, despite a majority of Red Rock workers voting against unionization.

    The Foundation has also fought to break down union boss-created legal barriers to unseating unwanted union officials. Early last year, following detailed formal comments submitted by Foundation attorneys, the NLRB finalized rules eviscerating union bosses’ ability to stop a decertification effort with “blocking charges,” i.e., accusations made against an employer that are often unverified and have no connection to workers’ desire to kick out undesired union officials.   

    “We at the Foundation are proud to have helped Mr. Herrera and his colleagues in the exercise of their workplace rights, but no American workers should have to file multiple petitions and endure protracted litigation just so they can exercise this basic right of free association,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This is more important than ever given the Biden Administration’s focus on further empowering union officials at the expense of rank-and-file workers’ individual rights.”

    “Foundation staff attorneys will not waiver in their defense of workers’ right to dispense with unwanted union so-called ‘representation,’ regardless of which way the political winds blow,” Mix added.

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    Kathleen Roos
    Kathleen Roos
    2 years ago

    Good for them. Takes guts.

    C E Voigtsberger
    C E Voigtsberger
    2 years ago

    While going to school I worked at two closed shop union jobs. It certainly opened my eyes to union practices. At one union shop I was a shipping clerk and part of my job included loading heavy equipment we manufactured onto flatbed trucks for shipping to customers. Some of the equipment included V-8 Ford engines and large tanks for holding liquids as well as a large fan and shroud for distributing the liquids. They weighed a couple thousand pounds. Many times the whistle would blow for the morning break or lunch break while I was in the process of loading a piece of equipment. I didn’t want to leave a heavy piece of expensive equipment swinging in the air while I went on break and would lower it in place and then go on break. The shop steward informed me in no uncertain terms that when the whistle blew I was to stop what I was doing immediately. That if I continued to work during rest time he would see that I was fired.
    I tried to explain to him that in my opinion it was dangerous to leave a heavy, expensive piece of equipment swinging in the breeze while I took a break. He repeated his threat to me. So that’s what I did. When the whistle blew, I just walked off and left the equipment swaying in the breeze. A stupid rule but I needed the job right then. I should have made him put his warning in writing but I doubt he had enough intelligence to be able to do that.
    I wasn’t allowed to sweep up the residue after I had packed up a bunch of shipments. That was the janitor’s job. I also couldn’t empty full wastebaskets in my work area. That was the janitor’s job too.
    Actually for an industrious young man fresh out of the military service and eager to get ahead in life working a union job was frustrating. Although I generally liked the job and liked the guys I worked with for the most part, I was glad to move on when I had the opportunity. Unfortunately, I only had contempt for the shop steward whom I assessed as barely able to tie his shoes.

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