Updated March 25 at 6:26pm

RISD worker files charges against technicians union


(Corrected Oct. 18)

PROVIDENCE – Robert Vennerbeck, a technician at the Rhode Island School of Design has filed federal charges against the Rhode Island School of Design Technical Association union for violating his right to opt out of the union.

Vennerbeck, a Providence resident, resigned formal union membership, exercising his right to refrain from paying for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining – including members-only events and political lobbying.

The charges, filed with the National Labor Relations Board’s regional office in Boston, claim that, despite repeated requests, union officials refused to provide Vennerbeck with an independently-audited financial breakdown of all forced-dues union expenses.

In late September, union officials demanded Vennerbeck be fired from his position at RISD in “an apparent attempt to retaliate against him for exercising his rights,” according to a release from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

“RISD Technical Association union bosses are seeking to punish a worker who has the temerity to not toe the union boss line and pay for the union bosses political agenda,” Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work foundation, said in prepared remarks. “Rhode Island desperately needs a Right to Work law making union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary.”

Twenty-three U.S. states have Right to Work protections for employees and public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support Right to Work union practices.


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