Tribal workers forced to unionize?

Overview

WINDOW ROCK

Tribal employees who spoke to the Navajo Times under the condition of anonymity said they have been pushed to join a union, a choice that was meant to be optional.

The Navajo Nation Executive Branch and the United Mine Workers of America entered into a collective bargaining agreement in August of 2015.

The agreement pertains to many regular full-time employees of the Navajo Nation, not necessarily to miners or mine workers.

It took over a year to begin the process of having employees sign up for the union or opt out, according to the employees of the Office of the Controller interviewed for this article.

They said representatives from the union or the government – they weren’t sure what office – came out to their workplace to speak to them. They added that the representatives spoke to their department in August and again last month and had lists of everyone who hadn’t signed up for the union, dates of employment, and their social security numbers.

“I was intimidated,” one worker said.

He said the representatives told them that the union would take $10 out of each paycheck — which only totals $600 every two weeks for one of those interviewed for this story — even for those who didn’t sign up for union representation.

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About Author

Christopher S. Pineo

Reporter Christopher S. Pineo's beats include education, construction, the executive branch, and pop culture. He also administers the Navajo Times Facebook page. In the diverse neighborhoods of Boston, Pineo worked, earned a master’s in journalism, and gained 10 years of newspaper experience. He can be reached at Chrisp@navajotimes.com.