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Connecticut school bus driver files labor charges against Teamsters

A Connecticut school bus driver has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the Teamsters Local 671 union after the union allegedly continued deducting dues from her after she requested to pay a reduced amount under the Supreme Court’s 1988 Communications Workers of America v. Beck decision.

Under Beck, employees required to accept union representation can opt out of membership and pay a fee for representation rather than the full dues amount, which can include other union activities including political activity. The amount of the fee must be supported by a union audit.

Mary Boland of New Milford, a driver for All Star Transportation since 2003, alleges the union never stopped deducting membership dues after she requested to be a nonmember in October of 2022 and that they never provided an audit. She is being represented by the National Right to Work Foundation, which provided legal counsel in the Beck decision in 1988.

Boland was originally represented by Teamsters Local 677, which organized in 2006, but that union was disbanded and replaced with Local 671 in September of 2022. Boland had been paying fees, not full union dues, to Local 677 before it was replaced, according to the charges filed with NLRB.

“In a letter to Boland dated November 2, 2022, the union acknowledged she invoked her rights under Beck, but failed to actually reduce those fees or provide the required audit,” the NLRB wrote in a press release. “Union officials have charged Boland full union dues as of the filing of the NLRB charge on March 17, 2023, and have never provided the required audit to justify any dues deductions.”

“In their apparent greed to extract as much money as possible from unwilling workers, Teamsters bosses are blatantly disregarding longstanding Supreme Court precedent,” said Mark Mix, president of the NRTW Foundation. “This case shows why Connecticut workers need the protection of a Right to Work law to make all union financial support strictly voluntary.”

Local 671 did not offer comment and indicated the matter is currently with the NLRB.

Right to Work laws make it illegal to require union membership as a condition of employment, thus making membership voluntary. Currently, 26 states have right to work laws on the books, although Michigan recently reversed course and repealed its right to work laws for private sector employees.

Although Connecticut does not have a right to work law for private sector employees, the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME made it illegal to require union membership for public sector employees, including all state and municipal employees. 

Connecticut unions have been pushing back against that decision, most recently in legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2022 which grants them more access to new hires and made restrictions on when someone can leave the union – called opt-out windows – a matter of state statute.

The legislature also passed a bill restricting “captive audience” meetings by private sector employers regarding politics, religion and unionization efforts. Labor leaders argued the meetings were used by employers to intimidate employees and keep them from unionizing.

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association labeled the bill a “gag order,” said it was pre-empted by the National Labor Relations Act and has filed a federal lawsuit against the law.

“Had Right to Work protections been in place, Mary Boland and other Connecticut workers would have had the freedom to simply cut off all union dues,” Mix said. “Without these Right to Work protections, however, workers find themselves having to tangle with union lawyers over what portion of union dues they can be legally fired for not paying.”

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Marc E. Fitch, Senior Investigative Reporter

Marc E. Fitch

Marc worked as an investigative reporter for Yankee Institute and was a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow. He previously worked in the field of mental health is the author of several books and novels, along with numerous freelance reporting jobs and publications. Marc has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Western Connecticut State University.

2 Comments

  1. Kendall Svengalis
    April 5, 2023 @ 8:22 am

    The question remains, why doesn’t Boland now invoke her rights under Janus and free herself from paying any dues or fees?

    The General Assembly’s action to restrict Janus rights exposes the Democrat’s hypocrisy on the principle of choice. It’s OK for those desiring to kill their unborn child, but not for those who want freedom not to be forced into a labor union and pay dues and fees. And it can be applied to any other areas of life for which government force is exercised and individual choice is negated, particularly now when government schools are pushing ideology on innocent kids. Time for money to follow the child.

    Reply

    • headshot bio picture Conner Drigotas
      April 5, 2023 @ 8:55 am

      The Janus decision was limited to public-sector employees. In this case, All-Star is a “family-owned and operated business” (privately owned) that contracts with the school system, so Janus does not apply. Thank you for this question, we will work to clarify in future articles.

      Reply

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