Michigan truck driver files coercion charge against UAW union

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 10, 2014 1:19 PM

DETROIT (Reuters) - A truck driver in Michigan filed a charge of coercion against the United Auto Workers union for keeping her from exercising her right to quit the union and stop paying dues, according to the National Right to Work Foundation.

Michigan became the 24th so-called "right-to-work" U.S. state after a contentious battle in the state's legislature in December 2012. This means that workers cannot be required to join a union or be forced to pay union dues.

Kathleen Sulkowski, a driver for CEVA Logistics U.S., Inc, filed the charge on Wednesday at the Detroit office of the National Labor Relations Board, the right-to-work group said.

Sulkowski sent a letter in August to officials at the UAW Local 600 union in Dearborn, expressing her desire to quit the union. But in mid-September, a Local 600 official responded that to do so she would have to come to the union hall and provide identification in order to quit.

UAW officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

"UAW union officials' latest tactic to show up in person and furnish photo identification is designed to dissuade or intimidate workers from exercising their rights to refrain from membership," Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, said in a statement issued on Friday.

When Michigan passed its right-to-work law, it said the new law goes into effect for workers once their current contract expires. Sulkowski's contract had expired by the time she sent the letter to Local 600 officials, said Anthony Riedel, spokesman for the National Right to Work Foundation.

Michigan auto workers at General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler Group, a unit of Fiat SpA, are not eligible to quit the unions voluntarily until their current contracts expire in September 2015.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Bernadette Baum)