Freedom Foundation

Portland Union Bullies Public Employees Who Refuse To Join

Last Thursday, thanks to the Freedom Foundation, Lyssa Williams got her day in court.

Using videoconference, Williams appeared before an administrative law judge to accuse Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 757, of systematic discrimination against employees who decide to opt out of union membership.

These employees are members of the collective bargaining unit that ATU represents, but ATU targets them when they exercise their First Amendment right to leave the union.

Williams is a rail operator for the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District (TriMet) public transportation system in Portland, Ore.

Last spring — almost two years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME, recognized the right of public employees to decline union membership and dues — Williams decided to leave ATU.

She soon discovered, however, that people apparently don’t just leave the union. Not on good terms, that is.

Shortly after Williams opted out, an ATU representative demanded to know why she had resigned union membership and subsequently called her a “freeloader.” The representative even kept essential job information from Ms. Williams and assigned her the “leftover” work shifts.

ATU’s representative didn’t hide his motives, telling other employees, “(Williams) decided to be a non-member … (S)hould she decide to do the right thing and rejoin, my tone would change.”

And Williams isn’t the only employee who has experienced this treatment. Another employee testified that ATU 757 had threatened to stick her with the bill for taking a grievance to arbitration since she decided to leave the union.

The Freedom Foundation filed Ms. Williams’ case in October at the Oregon Employment Relations Board.

Post-hearing briefs will be due at beginning of March.

The Freedom Foundation is proud to stand with Ms. Williams to defend her rights and will do the same for others abused by their union