Teamsters Local 214 President Joseph Valenti said in a story reported by the MIRS news service that most grievances filed by the workers his union represents are "frivolous."
Valenti was responding to a lawsuit filed by the Mackinac Center Legal Foundation over the Teamsters union charging $150 to file a grievance for former members who left the union by exercising the right-to-work law rights. The workers no longer pay dues or fees, but are still forced to be represented by the union in collective bargaining because unions asked for, and received, exclusive representation of all workers in a business that has been unionized.
"They want it both ways," Valenti told MIRS. "They want to file their grievances, most of which are frivolous, and then they want us to pay..."
Valenti didn’t respond to a phone message left at his office.
Valenti’s comments highlight the dilemma for people who have to rely on the union for representation, said F. Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
"This is the union leader tasked with protecting his members and the members who are forced to accept his protection," Vernuccio said. "His comments show that paying or not, they cannot rely on adequate representation. You would never hear an attorney say his client's action is frivolous. But of course an attorney has competition, unlike the union."
Maria Santiago-Powell is one of the former Teamsters Local 214 members who left the union and no longer pay dues. She works for the city of Dearborn and was one of the members who filed the lawsuit against the union.
"Wow, the total membership should hear this," Santiago-Powell said in an email. "And people wondered why we wanted out. … I never felt I would get their support anyway."
Teamsters Local 214 was almost voted out in favor of another union, said Shawn Koskyn, a former union member who works for the city of Dearborn and also is part of the lawsuit.
"What he said is par for the course," Koskyn said in an email. "The Teamsters just survived a very close election where they almost were replaced by a different union because of that exact attitude toward the workers that pay him with their money."