MN building materials employees win settlement over illegal firing

Two Minnesota building materials employees won a settlement against their former employer after being illegally fired for not joining a union, reported the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, who provided free legal aid to the workers.

According to the suit, OMG Midwest and the Teamsters Local 120 union told the two workers “several times—falsely—that union membership was required as a condition of employment.”

As a result of the settlement, OMG Midwest will now pay over $30,000 in back pay to the two men. They will also “remove all references to the termination” from the two employees’ personnel files, post notices at OMG’s Belle Plaine, Minnesota, facility, and distribute those notices to individual employees. The notices will explain that workers cannot be forced to join a union as a condition of employment. Charges against the union for violating the two workers’ rights are still pending.

The plaintiffs James Connolly and Charles Winter were both told during separate instances that they would “have to” join the Teamsters union.

James Connolly recounted in his charges that he asked Teamsters officials via email on April 9, 2019, whether or not he would be compelled into joining the union as part of the job. The same day a union official wrongly replied, “Sorry James but yes you do have to join.” Later, on May 1, a representative of OMG Midwest reiterated the same false information to Connolly. Connolly responded to the company in a May 9 email, in which he repeated his unwillingness to formally join the Teamsters. OMG Midwest fired Connolly the next day.

Later, in June, Charles Winter filed similar charges against OMG Midwest and the Teamsters union. Winter reported in his charges that at a company-wide meeting a Teamsters representative had told him and other employees that union membership is required in order to get or keep a job. When Winter later received an email from a company representative reiterating the false information that union membership was compulsory, Winter replied on May 20 holding firm that he would not join. He was fired in an email from the same company representative that same day.

The National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix added: “Ultimately, Minnesota legislators need to pass Right to Work protections for their state’s private-sector employees which will ensure that union bosses must use persuasion—not illegal intimidation or threats of firing—to secure the support of workers.”

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