Utah railcar workers sue over union dues
Four employees of Progress Rail Service Corp. in Salt Lake City have filed a lawsuit against the company and its union claiming their rights were violated under Utah's Right to Work law.
The four employees Bryan Rees, James Rogers, Richard Simone and Jason Wilson contend the company and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen/International Association of Machinists Local 6601 illegally coerced them into paying thousands of dollars in dues to the union by telling them union membership and full dues payments were a condition of their employment.
The lawsuit was filed in Utah's Third District Court with the aid of the National Right to Work Foundation. It asserts that under Utah's Right to Work law, workers have the right to refrain from union membership and dues payments.
The four workers joined Progress Rail abut different times between December 2005 and August 2011, but all alleged they were told of the union membership and dues requirements. As a result the four men claim they paid nearly $10,000 in "illegal" union dues from their paychecks through October 2012, which was approximately two months after they formally resigned their union memberships.
IAM Local 6601, based out of Fontana, Ca., said its attorneys were reviewing the lawsuit and the labor group wasn't prepared to issue a statement. And, Progress Rail didn't return repeated telephone calls to its communications department seeking comment.
"For years, IAM Local 6601 union bosses kept workers in the dark about their rights and took thousands of dollars of their hard-earned money" in violation of Utah's Right to Work law, Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation said in a statement. "The union's careless disregard for these worker's rights underscores the need for more states to pass Right to Work protections for their workers."
The foundation's website states that it believes that workers "must have the right, but must not be compelled, to join a labor union."
In their lawsuit, the four men are asking the Third District Court to declare the company and the union violated the Utah Right to Work law and that they be barred from any future violations. They also are asking for the return of the money the paid and for punitive damages that will be determined at trial.