After Threatening To Get Mechanic Fired, Union Shells Out $17K Settlement

A car mechanic in Kentucky / Getty Images
March 31, 2022

One of the country's largest unions paid a nearly $17,000 settlement to a New York mechanic who alleged labor leaders illegally threatened him for refusing to join their union.

Remmington Duk filed charges in January alleging that union bosses at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers told him he would be fired by his employer, the Buffalo-area Robert Basil Buick GMC dealership, if he did not sign up for the union. He refused to join and says he was fired five days after receiving the threat. While the union denied the allegations, it agreed to pay Duk $16,916 in a March settlement at the National Labor Relations Board.

Private-sector employees can be forced to pay union dues for collective bargaining as a condition of employment in New York because it is not a right-to-work state. But employees can opt out of union membership to avoid paying full union dues that fund political activity. The International Association of Machinists spent nearly $600,000 on the 2020 election, with 96 percent of the funds going toward Democratic candidates. It also spent $3 million on lobbying in 2020.

As union membership nationwide declines, labor groups have tried to find creative ways to maintain financial and political power. Many unions enforce a "window period" that only allows workers to opt out of full membership during a specific time period every year. The Small Business Administration in 2020 distributed more than $36 million in pandemic relief loans to unions that were ineligible to receive the Paycheck Protection Program funds.

Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, which represents Duk, said his story is an example of why New York needs to become a right-to-work state.

"Mr. Duk was brave to stand up to the union's unlawful threats even though it meant losing his job, but his case highlights how workers less knowledgeable of their legal rights are susceptible to blatantly illegal tactics from power hungry union bosses," Mix said.