News Anchor Files Unfair Labor Practices Against Union for Attempt to Illegally Collect Dues
May 20th 2011 · 0 Comments
From a National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation press release:
Indianapolis, IN (May 19, 2011) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, WRTV anchor Patricia Shepherd has filed federal unfair labor practice charges against the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) union.
Shepherd’s charges allege that AFTRA officials demanded she pay dues despite the fact that she is not a union member and the union has not had a contract with her employer for the past two years.
Because Indiana lacks a Right to Work law, employees can be forced to pay union dues for the purposes of workplace bargaining just to get or keep a job. In recent months, Indiana legislators were considering a law to make union dues payments strictly voluntary, but Governor Mitch Daniels and House Speaker Brian Bosma, despite strong majorities on record in favor of a Right to Work bill in both chambers of the state legislature, ultimately killed the legislation.
In this case, the AFTRA union has not had a contract with WRTV since March 2009 and therefore is not entitled to collect dues for negotiations with management. Moreover, the last contract between the union and the television station indicated that joining AFTRA or paying union dues was not a condition of employment at WRTV.
Although the union’s own contract includes language stating that dues payment is not a condition of employment, AFTRA officials continue to insist that Shepherd pay union dues. The union has gone so far as to refer Shepherd’s name to a professional collections agency in Pennsylvania.
Shepherd’s charges will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board.
Separately, Ms. Shepard stated her case is not politically motivated:
Shepherd said Thursday that her complaint to the NLRB isn’t intended as a test case on right-to-work issues.
She said the controversy in Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and other states did not motivate her complaint against AFTRA.
“This is not intended as a political statement,” she said.
“I’m just like any other citizen trying to protect myself,” Shepherd said.
AFTRA could not be reached for comment.
The union has been trying to collect $1,032 as of April 18. It hired a Pennsylvania collection company to try to get her to pay, according to NLRB filings.
Shepherd, who joined WRTV in 2007, claims AFTRA union officials demanded she pay dues or fees even though she is not in the union.
And, according to the filing, the last contract between AFTRA and WRTV owner McGraw-Hill Broadcasting expired in March 2009, so there is no current collective-bargaining agreement.
It will be interesting to see if a high-profile claimant, like a news caster, will cause AFTRA union bosses to back down–or make them dig their heels in further.