Another Victory for Workers

After years of litigation, the 10th Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals has upheld a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling ending a discriminatory Teamster union workplace policy. Kirk Rammage, the victim of union officials’ discriminatory policies, received free assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation during his extended legal battle.

Rammage, an Interstate Bakeries employee of Ponca City, Oklahoma, was involved in the consolidation of two separate corporate divisions in 2005. Part of one division was staffed by a single nonunion sales representative – Rammage – who had put in more time with Interstate Bakeries than any of his coworkers at the office where he worked. Company officials wanted to ensure he retained his seniority during the merger, but union officials from Teamster Local 523 insisted that union members receive preferential treatment, discriminating against Rammage despite his workplace tenure.

After reviewing the facts of the case, the NLRB concluded that the union hierarchy had broken the law by treating employees differently based on their union membership status. However, union officials did not comply with the NLRB’s decision and refused to allow the employer to reinstate Rammage’s seniority.

Teamster lawyers subsequently challenged the NLRB’s decision at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that union officials may discriminate against nonunion workers’ seniority rights when they are merged with unionized employees. However, the 10th Circuit ruled that the union’s conduct violates the National Labor Relations Act, which requires union officials to treat all workers equally, regardless of union membership.

“Union bosses despise those who choose not to unionize, so they try to make an example out of them,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Unfortunately, this type of abuse will continue until Big Labor’s government-granted special privileges are eliminated.”