United comes to ILM, workers required to join union

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) –  United Airlines is off the ground in Wilmington. Airport officials hope this is just the beginning for the expanding airport.

Source: Andrew James WWAY

If you are thinking about looking to the air for work though, you should know about their labor rules. One potential employee said he had no choice but to quit because of United’s labor union arrangement.

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North Carolina is a right to work state, meaning workers do not have to work in a union and you don’t have to pay dues. We and one former United employee learned that’s not the case for airline workers.

“I was in shock, I could not believe it.”

Marshall Long was hired on to be a part of the inaugural crew to help United Airlines come to Wilmington. He worked in ILM before with the TSA and he was looking forward to getting back to the terminal. That was until a couple of weeks into training when things took a turn.

“An instructor came up to me and said, ‘Hey, a union rep is going to be coming in tomorrow and speak,'” Long said.

Long says that representative told the potential workers they would have all of these benefits and protections as long as they paid the union.

“I said, ‘You know this does not seem right,'” Long said.

Long adds that he had little time and little choice in the matter.

“The union rep said, ‘Hey, you need to sign this piece of paper, or you’re going to be out of a job,'” Long said.

Source: Andrew James WWAY

We contacted Long’s trainer and supervisor at United Ground Express. They confirmed what Long told us.

In a right to work state like North Carolina, Long would not have to agree to that. That’s with one exception. It only is the case if Long had worked for any other industry other than for airlines or the railroads.

We contacted the union and they cited the Railway Labor Act. In 1984, a Supreme Court case decided the act allowed companies and unions to collect agency fees so that the collective bargaining agreements were funded.

It’s federal law meaning that any state right to work laws are powerless against it. That’s a lesson Long had to learn the hard way, but glad he did.

“I just don’t agree with how somebody can say you’re fired if you just don’t pay me.”

When we spoke to United Ground Express they said they had a positive relationship with the union. United has estimated to have brought more than 20 jobs to the Wilmington airport with its launch.