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California Labor Law: When a Union Dictates the Right to Work

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Los Angeles,CA: Even though US Federal labor law forbids an employer from discriminating against an employee on the basis of non-membership in a union, that federal statute doesn't appear to be mirrored by California labor laws, if a recent example is any indication. Like most states, California state labor law serves as an addendum to federal law—not as a replacement—and California labor employment law, if there are any holes, needs to be patched.

Union WorkerThis latest example relates to a field worker employed by Verizon in Tampa, Florida—who eventually was made part of a team of Verizon specialists dispatched to work on a project in California.

According to a summary of the issue posted at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation web site, which is part of the National Right to Work Foundation (NRTWF) Angela Leitzel was included on a team of field technicians from Tampa dispatched to California for a work assignment on behalf of Verizon. The work was to be performed in a California-based facility 'represented' by Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 9588, together with affiliates CWA International and CWA District 9.

However, as reported by the NRTWF Leitzel was removed from the project by Verizon February 17th. The reason? Because she was not a card-carrying member of her union back home in Tampa.

Florida is one of 22 of the so-called Right to Work States, which affords workers the freedom not to actually join a union that represents all other workers at a facility, nor are workers compelled to pay union dues if they don't wish to. However, Leitzel and any other worker taking a similar position would have to accept representation by the union, regardless of whether the worker wanted representation or not.

In Tampa, Leitzel's workplace at Verizon is represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 824. When Leitzel was removed from the project in February, a Verizon representative told her that she could not work on the project because she was not a member of IBEW Local 824.

A month later, a second team of field specialists was assembled for California duty. And again, Leitzel was refused the chance to participate because, according to the RTWF, officials with the CWA would not allow her to work at the Verizon facility in California due to her status, or lack thereof with IBEW Local 824.

Leitzel felt she was treated unfairly and therefore filed grievances against Verizon and the unions charging unfair labor practice. She alleged that CWA officials committed unfair labor practices by encouraging the company—Verizon—to discriminate against her, together with the failure to inform Leitzel of her rights as they pertained to California.

Unlike Florida, California labor laws carry no Right to Work provisions.

The Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board agreed with Lietzel's position and threatened to issue a formal complaint against the unions and Verizon. However the two sides settled before a formal complaint was laid in an effort to avoid a trial.

Leitzel, according to the NRTWF receives full compensation for any lost income related to her removal from the field work in California. Both the company and the unions also agreed to stop any and all illegal discrimination on account of union affiliation.

"California should take a lesson from Florida: no employee should ever be forced to join or pay fees to an unwanted union," said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation.

California labor laws exist to protect California workers from potential exploitation by employers. However, as this particular issue demonstrates California state labor law is not the be-all and end-all, as other states have provisions that some may view as more favorable. Once California state legislators are done wrestling with the state's budget crisis, it may be time to revisit various provisions of California labor employment law.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by
william hass
on
I need help in getting out of my union. they are bring my department down.

Posted by
YJ Draiman for Mayor of Los Angeles 2013
on
Violation of right to work is Anti-Democracy & Freedom of Choice

Freedom of expressions and freedom of choice work in both directions.

An employee/worker in the United States should have the right to choose to belong to a Union or not.

Mandated of forceful coercion to join the Union should be unconstitutional and anti-democracy.

If Unions are so good for the workers, how come it has to be forced on them? Where is the freedom of choice? Where is Democracy in action & practice?

YJ Draiman for Mayor of Los Angeles 2013

Posted by
JOE HILL
on
MANAGEMENT NEEDS SOME SERIOUS SPANKING , THEY ARE OUT OF CONTROL ABUSING WORKERS IN SO MANY NEW CLEVER WAYS ..

EVERY SINGLE COMPANY I EVER WORKED FOR ALWAYS COMPLAINED WORKERS WERE TOO SLOW.

THE FORMAN AND BOSSES ALWAYS WERE CRYING AND SAYING WE NEED MORE GOOD WORKER..

JUST WHAT IS A GOOD WORKER .. SOME FOOL TO UNDER VALUE THERE SKILLS AN GIVE UP THERE WAGES AND LIFE ..

WHAT ABOUT THE BONESES AND KICK BACKS FOR THE FOREMAN ALL AT THE WORKERS COST ???

WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE CRAZY RUSH JOB SCHEDULES ..
OVER MAN A JOB WITH WOKERS FOR 3 WEEKS AND LAY OFF COME WEEK 4 ... WELCOME TO CONSTRUCTION ...

Posted by
Yohualli Tecolotl
on
No one should be refused work at any moment, but the fact that unions and companies have clashed is a very difficult situation when one (a laborer worker) decides to be part of a Union or not. It gets into the politics and the reason why Unions are needed and at times just disrupt a persons right to eat.
Politics and its complex entanglement of binding contracts keep people suffering while Unions and or the company make decisions. It is not fare for the worker to suffer. There should always be a fund when any situations occur whether it is the fault of the employee or mere nit picking of the company.
Workers are to be protected on any situation, whether at fault or not. When one is at fault, the worker makes the choice, whether he is going to continue his/her misconduct depending on the situations or simply do a good job. Workers go to work to make commerce move in a safe and healthy environment, not to take advantage of one's rights and make a business out of a business. Mistakes are made and from those mistakes, one appreciates their work and the Unions existence of their protection. However, if there are laws that give the worker the right to not be in a Union than that should be respected.
As well, this should not be something that companies should take advantage of to destroy Unions by not using Union workers; there should be a balance in all situations. Work in any environment, rules and laws are for the better of the citizens who make a societies function. Unfortunately, we live in a society that breeds greed and power on all ends. I hope that in the future things are fare in every situation.

Posted by
draliaaccitly
on
What do you mean?

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