Union members expect their organization to defend their employment, but in the case of 11 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees hired by the Human Development Center in Duluth their would-be protector tried to take their jobs away.

“Employees were coming to our human resources department absolutely panicked,” said Jim Getchell, executive director of Human Development Center. “Here they had landed this brand new job with this great company that’s been here 75 years in their chosen career working in behavioral health and then getting a letter within the first few weeks of employment from their union saying that they’re to be terminated.”

In a startling episode of role reversal, HDC filed an unfair labor practices complaint in August 2013 with the National Labor Relations Board to prevent AFSCME Council 5 from forcing the mental health nonprofit to fire the newly hired employees.

The complaint alleged that on six occasions from mid-March to mid-July 2013 AFSCME asked HDC to “terminate a number of newer unit employees for non-payment of dues or service fees. Some hadn’t been employed long enough to reach a pay period, and some in fact had begun paying,” according to the HDC complaint.

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