This 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.
READ MORE CALIFORNIA LABOR LAW LEGAL NEWS
"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.