Union To Worker: Join Or We Can’t Protect You

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON, Wis. – Josh Herr started in the pottery department of Kohler Co. seven months ago.

He said the harassment and intimidation from the union representing the factory employees began immediately.

Herr, 24, didn’t want to join United Auto Workers Local 833. He didn’t see the value.

The UAW union steward and its president didn’t care for Herr’s answer.

“The head representative there named Scott Wagner kept coming up to me asking if I wanted to join the union. I told him I didn’t want to join,” Herr told MacIver News Service Wednesday in an exclusive interview. “He told me, ‘Then I can’t protect you from harassment.’”

In other words, the union steward couldn’t protect the new employee from the union, Herr said.

Wagner announced to workers in the toilet-and-sink component plant that Herr refused to join the union.

Things got worse.

Herr said the union steward continued to hound him. Right before Christmas, the UAW local union president, Tim Tayloe, walked around the pottery building reminding workers that there were a handful of employees who hadn’t joined, weren’t paying dues.

“Later he told me that I was the last one, that he had gotten everybody else to join, and he wanted me to join,” Herr said. “I told him again I wasn’t interested and turned and went back to work.”

Two weeks ago, Herr claims Tayloe called him at work and threatened him while he was doing his job.

“He said, ‘We really don’t like when people don’t join the union,’” Herr said. “He told me there were two other people in the pottery building who didn’t join the union and that nothing good happened to them.”

“He said, ‘I don’t want anything bad happening because you’re not joining,’” Herr added.

It was the latest in what the employee described as several subtle threats from union management.

“He is passively aggressively threatening me with the very union he wants me to join,” Herr said.

Herr doesn’t have to join a union. And under Wisconsin’s Right to Work law, Herr cannot be compelled to join a union or pay union dues. Under federal employment laws, organized labor cannot threaten, intimidate or otherwise create hostile workplaces, including for employees who do not want to join a union.

But Herr said UAW Local 833 isn’t playing by the rules.

Read more on this story at MacIver Institute:

Matt Kittle

Matt Kittle

Matt Kittle is a fill-in host for WIBA and WISN who is an investigative journalist for the MacIver Insititute Read more


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