Last week, a forklift driver at Ford’s Sterling Axle plant came forth with the distressing allegation that he’s been targeted and harassed for dropping out of the United Auto Workers union, ever since he made the decision several years ago.
According to Detroit Fox affiliate WJBK, Brian Pannebecker has been vocal in his support for Michigan’s so-called “Right to Work” law, which removes any requirement that public and private sector employees join a union where it was previously necessary. When the law went into effect in 2013, Pannebecker exercised his right not to continue his UAW membership, for which he says he’s faced constant harassment from some of his co-workers.
“I’m a good worker. I come into work every day, I try to work safe and do my job, and I shouldn’t have to put up with this type of harassment in the work place – especially from the UAW,” he told WJBK. Pannebecker says he’s found his picture on numerous, derogatory fliers posted about his workplace and the UAW office. Now, he’s filed an official complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), specifically pointing to Union Safety Officer Angelo Lupo.
Mr. Pannebecker claims that Lupo follows and hounds him incessantly, writing him up for minor safety violations at every turn. “They’re trying to get me in trouble,” he says. The UAW President denies that any harassment against Pannebecker has taken place.
“Right to Work” opponents decry the law as yet another attempt to undermine the effectiveness of organized labor unions. Under the law, non-member workers in places which benefit from union representation can receive the same collective bargaining and other protections as members without having to pay dues.
Regardless, Mr. Pannebecker has been an outspoken supporter, and doesn’t believe that workers should be forced to participate in labor organizations such as the UAW. He will take his case before the NLRB this week. “I would like to see the current safety rep replaced,” he said. “I’m not looking for a lawsuit, I’m not looking for money; all I want is to come to work and do my job every day without being harassed by the UAW thugs.”