The Teamsters Local 25 in Boston is being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board for unfair labor practices after scrapping its policy of allowing dues to be paid incrementally.
The union's unannounced decision was made public by seasonal UPS workers who were stunned to find that their $500 dues were deducted from their first paychecks all at once — which, for many, effectively wiped out the earnings they were counting on.
What are the details?
WBZ-TV uncovered the controversy, telling the story of UPS employee Sheila O'Malley. "I was shocked," O'Malley said, describing the moment she opened up her paycheck after working a 41-hour week and finding it was made out for a mere $14.52.
O'Malley believed it was a mistake, at first, remembering that she had signed an agreement to pay her $500 Teamsters union initiation fee in increments of $32.00 a week. But her employer told her it was no accident — and a UPS spokesperson confirmed to WBZ that "Local 25 reversed this long standing practice by rescinding this policy."
"I cried and tried to plead my case with them. But there was no wiggle room," O'Malley said. She recalled a union representative explaining to her, "You're a part of the union now and you won't have to worry about that coming out of your check."
The seasonal employee was devastated. "Financially it was crippling," she told WBZ. "It seemed like a few hundred dollars but that money was already spent and then we didn't have it."
Other employees told WBZ that the Teamsters blamed UPS for the snafu resulting in thousands of workers losing most or all of their first paychecks. Regardless of who's to blame, O'Malley was surprised at the union's failure in addressing the issue. "I thought they were supposed to protect our rights," she said.
The Teamsters isn't the only union in the news over alleged due-collection shakedowns of late.
The Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut is accused of going after leaders and even family members of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 825 in order to collect dues — in spite of the fact that Local 825 disaffiliated from the statewide union two years ago.