Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Four workers at a Ravenswood aluminum plant have filed unfair labor practice charges against a union stemming from a strike last summer.
The National Right to Work Foundation said Friday the Constellium workers filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board.
The four workers resigned their membership in the United Steelworkers Local 5668 before they continued to work during the strike. The foundation said the workers received letters from local union officials in March threatening fines and stripping them of seniority, in violation of federal law.
“USW union bosses are trying to punish workers who had the courage not to toe the union boss line and instead provide for their families,” said Mark Mix, president of National Right to Work. “Workers should not be forced to abandon their jobs and be denied their right to provide for themselves and their families at the whim of militant union bosses.”
A message left with Local 5668 President Jason Miller wasn’t immediately returned Friday.
Because West Virginia does not have right-to-work protections making union affiliation completely voluntary, the four workers are still forced to pay part of union dues to keep their jobs, the foundation said.
“This case underscores the need for a state Right to Work law making union affiliation and dues payments completely voluntary,” Mix said.
In December, Michigan became the 24th state to pass right-to-work protections for employees.
Union workers at the plant went on a nearly seven-week strike after the company proposed changes to health benefit plans. The strike ended Sept. 23 when union members ratified a five-year contract.
Under the new contract, workers will receive annual 2.5 percent pay raises, along with a $7,500 ratification bonus. Workers also will have to pay 5 percent of their health care premiums, beginning in 2017.
The union represents about 700 of 1,000 employees at the Jackson County plant.
In March, the state Labor Dispute Tribunal upheld a ruling awarding unemployment compensation benefits to Constellium workers who went on strike. More than 600 workers applied for unemployment compensation benefits.