Workers who left the union not buying his answer; say it's an intimidation tactic
A top labor official told MLive recently that the public posting of names of union members who opted out of the union serves as a membership renewal reminder to other union members.
Lawrence Roehrig, international vice president of AFSCME and secretary treasurer of Michigan AFSCME Council 25, made his comments in an MLive story that appeared after Michigan Capitol Confidential broke the news that AFSCME Hurley Medical Center Employees Local 1603 posted the names of workers who exercised their rights and left the union as part of the state's right-to-work law.
"You're not harassing them," Roehrig was quoted by MLive as saying. "It gives you an indication of who's paying and who isn't."
But two of the former union members who were on the list aren't buying Roehrig's explanation that it's a legitimate way to remind workers about their membership status.
Kollin VanDenHeuvel said he had to sign paperwork saying it was his choice to leave the union and he had to turn it in to the Human Resources department. He said in an email the union knows that the people on the list didn't forget but chose to opt out.
Another former union member at the hospital, Sondra Ellison, said Roehrig was trying to cover for the union's actions so it didn't look like union intimidation. She said there was no way to forget to pay her dues because they were taken out via payroll deduction for 26 years. She said she also had to fill out a two-page form to opt out of the union.
"They just did it to deter other people from opting out," Ellison said. "They didn't come to me and say, 'Well, I see you opted out. You had been in the union for 26 years. What happened?' "
Ellison said she left purely for financial reasons. Her union dues were $40 a month.
"I had to make some tough decisions. I don't see why I should be punished," she said. "Just because I signed an opt-out form, that means I opted out to my right to privacy, too?"
Roehrig didn't respond to a request for comment.