NY Mechanic Says Employer Fired Him for Refusing To Join Union

Alleges union threatened him days before his termination

A car mechanic in Kentucky / Getty Images
February 8, 2022

A mechanic in New York says he was fired because he refused to join his workplace's union after he received threats from its leadership.

Remmington Duk says union bosses at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers illegally threatened him in October, telling the mechanic that his employer would fire him if he did not join their union. Five days after he received the threats, Duk's employer, the Buffalo-area Robert Basil Buick GMC dealership, terminated his employment, according to charges Duk filed last month with the National Labor Relations Board against the union and his former employer.

Duk told the Washington Free Beacon that it is "outrageous" that union officials pushed for his firing while claiming to protect workers.

"If they really wanted me to join, they should have tried to persuade me instead of making a completely illegal threat," Duk said.

New York is not a right-to-work state, which means that private-sector employees can be forced to pay union dues for collective bargaining as a condition of employment. Employees are able to opt out of union membership, however, which allows them to avoid paying additional dues to fund union political activities. The International Association of Machinists spent more than $3 million on lobbying in 2020 and $400,000 on the 2020 election cycle—94 percent of which went to Democratic candidates.

Labor union membership has declined in recent decades, forcing leadership to find creative ways to steady their finances. More than 200 unions applied for and received $36 million in pandemic relief loans in 2020 despite being ineligible for the program. Many unions only allow workers to opt out of dues during a restricted time period every year.

Mark Mix, the president of the National Right to Work Foundation, which represents Duk, said intimidation tactics are an ineffective way for unions to turn around their declining membership numbers.

"Union bosses threatening people's jobs and livelihoods is no way to gain the support of the workers they claim to 'represent,'" Mix said.

Neither the International Association of Machinists Lodge 447 nor the Robert Basil Buick GMC dealership responded to a request for comment.

The National Labor Relations Board facilitates settlements between unions and workers if it determines there is sufficient evidence that workplace rights were violated.