12 Jan 2018

Mechanic Hits Union With Federal Charge for Canceling His Health Insurance in Retaliation Scheme

Posted in News Releases

Dealership employee discovered insurance had been canceled by union after he exercised right to resign his union membership and filed an NLRB charge challenging union practices

Chicago, IL (January 12, 2018) – A Chicago-area auto mechanic has filed an unfair labor practice charge against International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 701 with free legal assistance from attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. The charge, filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), describes how union bosses wrongfully terminated the worker’s health insurance in retaliation for him exercising his right to resign union membership.

Mike Vallaro is employed at Gerald Subaru, Inc. in Naperville, IL. He exercised his right to resign from the union after IAM Local 701 union officials demanded that he and his co-workers abandon their jobs and join a union-initiated strike in August 2016. By resigning prior to the union-ordered work stoppage, Vallaro could continue working and not legally be subjected to IAM internal “union discipline.”

Despite this, union officials sent him a letter threatening a disciplinary trial for working during the strike. They claimed that, if he was found guilty by the union tribunal, Vallaro would be forced to pay a monetary fine. In similar situations around the country, union officials have levied fines in the tens of thousands of dollars against workers who defied strike demands.

Understanding his rights, Vallaro turned to Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys for free legal aid and filed the unfair labor practice charge. After National Right to Work Foundation’s involvement, IAM Local 701 notified Vallaro that its trial had been canceled. However, NLRB proceedings in the case continued.

The mechanic thought that was the last of IAM Local 701’s illegal intimidation, until he went into the doctor’s office for a medical procedure, only to find that his medical insurance had been canceled. Under the monopoly bargaining contract between the IAM and his employer, all employees are entitled to health insurance. The union controls and selects the insurance plan that covers the employees irrespective of whether they are a union member or not. Additionally, because Illinois is not a Right to Work state, Vallaro is still forced to pay fees to IAM Local 701 officials each month.

Vallaro never received prior notification that his health insurance had lapsed. After conferring with his co-workers he discovered that he was the only worker in the monopoly bargaining unit to have his insurance canceled, making it clear it was in retaliation for his previous resignation and unfair labor practice charge.

In response Vallaro again turned to Foundation staff attorneys, who assisted him in filing another unfair labor practice charge against IAM officials, this time for illegal retaliation and discrimination by violating their monopoly bargaining contract to cancel Vallaro’s insurance. Both charges are now being investigated by the NLRB Region 13 office in Chicago.

Meanwhile, Vallaro faces mounting medical bills as a result of his insurance being canceled. Fortunately, for now, his employer Gerald Subaru is assisting Vallaro with the bills that would have been covered had IAM union officials not wrongfully canceled the coverage.

“Mr. Vallaro simply wanted to continue working to support himself and his family instead of engaging in a union boss-ordered strike. Now, because he exercised his protected rights under federal law, he is facing a relentless campaign of illegal union intimidation,” said Mark Mix president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Union bosses’ willingness to cancel the health insurance of a worker they still claim to ‘represent’ just when he needs to rely on that insurance, is another ugly example of union officials abusing their monopoly forced dues powers to attack workers who refuse to toe the union line.”

10 Jan 2018

Foundation Warns Workers of Union Boss Tricks Ahead of Janus Ruling

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2017 edition. To sign up for a free copy of the newsletter via mail please see the form at the bottom of the page.

Special legal notice to public employees warns against signing away rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With forced dues requirements for over five million public sector employees at stake in the Foundation’s Janus v. AFSCME case now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, union bosses coast-to-coast are already scrambling to limit workers ability to cut off dues payments if the court rules that mandatory union payments violate the First Amendment.

Following the Supreme Court’s announcement in late September that it was taking the Janus case, there were reports that Big Labor was ramping up tactics to block the workers from escaping forced dues. In response, Foundation staff attorneys crafted a special legal notice to public employees, warning them against signing any union authorization cards that might later be cited to limit their right to stop paying dues.

“Unfortunately, there is a long history of union officials refusing to accept limits on their forced- dues powers, and with 5.2 million government workers forced to pay billions each year to union bosses, it is no surprise that union bosses are pulling out all the stops to attempt to block them from using the protections that a Foundation win in the Janus case would bring,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation.

“Although the scale may be unprecedented given the stakes of this Supreme Court case, unfortunately these tactics are nothing new,” Semmens continued. “Invariably, after Foundation-won legal precedents or enactment of new state Right to Work laws, union officials move to block the very workers they claim to represent from exercising their rights.”

Reports: Unions Pressing Workers To Sign Away Their Rights

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s special legal notice warns employees of the tactics teacher union bosses have already begun using:

For instance, according to The Wall Street Journal, Education Minnesota, an affiliate of the National Education Association, is having teachers sign pre-filled “membership renewal” cards which also authorize their employer to deduct union dues or fees from their paychecks.

This language may seem innocuous, but it is craftily designed to lock employees into paying dues even if they wish to cease paying. The Wall Street Journal also notes: “If public sector unions are putting this ‘renewal’ strategy in place in Minnesota, it’s likely that they’re making similar plans elsewhere.”

Although Foundation staff attorneys question the legality of such cards, the special legal notice reminds workers that signing such a card could limit their legal options later. This is compounded by the fact that in many documented instances, union organizers solicit signatures under misleading or false pretenses.

Public sector employees are taking notice of such schemes and are already calling the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to report this behavior by union officials and seek advice in protecting their rights. As always, Foundation staff attorneys are prepared to take legal action for workers who are illegally required to pay forced dues.

Sign up for Foundation Action Newsletter

Please sign up here for your free copy of the bi-monthly newsletter of the National Right to Work Foundation to be mailed directly to you.
9 Jan 2018

Illinois Homecare Assistants Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Case Seeking Ruling That First Amendment Is Violated When Union Dues Are Seized Without an Individual’s Consent

Posted in News Releases

Providers denied refunds of $32 million in union fees which the High Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn were seized in an unconstitutional scheme


Washington, DC (January 9, 2018) –
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the court to hear a case that could determine whether individuals’ First Amendment rights can be limited by union opt-out procedures. In the case, thousands of homecare providers are being denied refunds of over $30 million seized by union officials without their consent.

The case stems from an executive order issued by former Governor Rod Blagojevich that classified more than 80,000 individuals who receive state subsidies to provide in-home care to disabled persons as “public employees” solely for the purpose of the providers being unionized and required to pay union fees. As a result, these in-home care givers, many of them parents caring for their own children, were unionized through an SEIU “card-check” union organizing drive.

Staff attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation assisted eight of these providers in filing a federal class-action lawsuit challenging the forced dues seizures. The High Court took the case and, on June 30, 2014, it ruled that SEIU’s forced dues scheme imposed by Governor Blagojevich is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment rights of the in-home care providers.

After the Supreme Court’s June 2014 ruling in Harris v. Quinn – now designated Riffey v. Rauner – the case was remanded to the District Court to settle the remaining issues, including whether SEIU would be required to return more than $32 million in dues confiscated from nonmembers through its unconstitutional scheme.

In June 2016, the District Court ruled that, despite the Supreme Court ruling in Harris, the SEIU did not have to repay these funds on a class-wide basis. That decision was appealed to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals where Foundation staff attorneys argued the case in May 2017. The Appeals Court ruled that even though these workers never consented to their money being taken for forced dues, their First Amendment Rights were not violated. Foundation staff attorneys now ask the Court to determine whether the “government inflicts a First Amendment injury when it compels individuals to subsidize speech without their prior consent.”

The petition can be found here.

“The Supreme Court’s Harris decision ruled that forcing homecare providers to subsidize union speech violates their First Amendment rights,” stated NRTW President Mark Mix. “This petition asks the High Court to further clarify its Harris ruling, by making it clear that individuals who have never joined a union cannot be required to take affirmative steps just to protect those Constitutional rights.”

“An individual’s First Amendment rights should never be limited by bureaucratic opt-out procedures,” continued Mix. “With the Supreme Court considering the Constitutionality of mandatory union fees for all public employees next month in the Foundation’s Janus case, this issue could be critical in protecting the freedom of speech of millions of Americans.”

9 Jan 2018

Union Bosses Admit Forced Dues Fuel Big Labor’s Political Clout

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2017 edition. To sign up for a free copy of the newsletter via mail please see the form at the bottom of the page.

Union officials’ public statements about forced dues belie their legal arguments

WASHNGTON, D.C. – Since the Supreme Court’s 1977 Abood decision, union dues for public employees have ostensibly been divided between political and ideological activities that workers could not be forced to subsidize and union activities regarding monopoly bargaining which state workers like Janus v. AFSCME plaintiff Mark Janus could be required to fund.

Beginning with the National Right to Work Foundation’s 2012 Knox v. SEIU Supreme Court case, the High Court has begun to question whether that supposed line sufficiently protects the First Amendment rights of workers like Mr. Janus who do not wish to join or associate with a union, especially because all public sector union activities are directed at the government, making them inherently political. Nevertheless union lawyers continue to argue, and are expected to argue again to the Supreme Court in Janus, that the so-called “agency fees” which nonmembers are required to pay are completely unrelated to union political spending and lobbying.

However, in public statements about the impact of losing the power to compel payment from nonmembers, union officials and their allies repeatedly admit that their forced-dues powers are crucial to Big Labor’s vast political influence.

Only 35% of Workers Would Definitely Pay Dues Voluntarily

One of the starkest admissions about how dependent union bosses are on forced dues came from an internal report commissioned by AFSCME, the union in the Janus case. According to a Bloomberg News report, the union study was commissioned to look at the potential impact of a Supreme Court ruling against forced fees. It concluded that union officials could only count on payments from “roughly 35%” of workers if dues were voluntary.

Of the remaining 65 percent, union officials said a quarter would likely opt out while the rest were “on the fence.” A separate admission by AFSCME official and former Obama Administration appointee Naomi Walker demonstrates the extent to which forced dues fuel partisan union spending on politics.

Writing about Janus for a union-funded publication, Walker predicted that the “progressive infrastructure in this country, from think tanks to advocacy organizations—which depends on the resources and engagement of workers and their unions—will crumble,” if the Supreme Court strikes down mandatory union fees. Meanwhile, the SEIU says it has planned for a 30% budget reduction in preparation for the loss of forced-dues powers over public employees.
Behind closed doors the recipients of Big Labor’s political largess also admit that union political expenditures would be significantly impacted by a ruling striking down forced dues. A leaked copy of remarks by the head of the left-wing Democracy Alliance noted that the groups “dodged a bullet” when Scalia’s death left the High Court split 4-4 with forced dues intact.

Democracy Alliance has directed around $500 million in political spending in recent election cycles. It counts national unions as a significant portion of its roughly 100 membership groups, which include AFSCME, SEIU and the two national teacher unions. In the leaked speech, Democracy Alliance President Gara LaMarche described the groups as “a key anchor of funding for progressive campaigns and causes.” According to a report in the Washington Free Beacon, he warned that Big Labor’s political allies would “need to find new ways to raise money to make up for the disastrous financial shortfall that could follow policies that prevent forced unionization.

According to public disclosure reports filed by union officials, Big Labor political spending during the 2016 election cycle topped $1.7 billion. Of that figure, over $1.3 billion came from union general treasury funds, funded largely by workers who would lose their jobs if they refused to pay union dues or fees.

Sign up for Foundation Action Newsletter

Please sign up here for your free copy of the bi-monthly newsletter of the National Right to Work Foundation to be mailed directly to you.
8 Jan 2018

Featured Foundation Commentary: This Is Why All Union Dues Should Be Voluntary

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2017 edition. . To sign up for a free copy of the newsletter via mail please see the form at the bottom of the page.

By Mark Mix

It’s been a landmark year in the debate over forced union dues. Kentucky and Missouri became the 27th and 28th states, respectively, to pass Right to Work laws to ensure that financial support of a union is completely voluntary. Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court could announce in a few weeks that it will hear Janus v. AFSCME, a case seeking to strike down mandatory union payments as a violation of First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association.

The basic case for Right to Work is simple: Forcing workers to pay money to a union they don’t support is wrong. This is why polling consistently shows that Americans overwhelmingly support Right to Work, including strong majorities of independent, Republican and Democratic voters.

There are other reasons to support Right to Work, too. Workplace freedom is an economic engine, with private-sector job creation rates in Right to Work states double those in forced-unionism states between 2006 and 2016.

Plus, Right to Work laws make union officials more accountable to rank-and-file members. Without Right to Work, employees must pay up or be fired. With voluntary dues, workers can withhold financial support from a union that is corrupt, ineffective or putting its institutional interests ahead of what is best for workers. Right to Work is a defender of workers’ rights — union members and nonunion alike.

Don’t take my word for it. Among proponents of this view was Samuel Gompers, who founded the American Federation of Labor in 1886 and served as the longest-tenured president of the group that would later become the AFL-CIO. As president of the AFL in 1916, Gompers wrote, “The workers of America adhere to voluntary institutions in preference to compulsory systems which are held to be not only impractical but a menace to their rights, welfare and their liberty.”

Gompers understood that true strength came from voluntary membership, and that by using government-granted powers to force workers to associate with and fund unions — such as laws that prohibit employees from choosing their own workplace representatives — organized labor undermines its legitimacy to speak on behalf of workers.

Today, this is compounded by the fact that fewer than 6 percent of unionized workers currently under monopoly union contracts have even had the opportunity to vote for or against union representation. That’s how entrenched forced unionization is in the American labor force.

In the years since Gompers wrote against “compulsory systems,” Big Labor has completely tossed out any pretense of his “voluntary unionism” that attracts workers by showing them the potential benefits of unionization.

Instead, Big Labor has wholeheartedly embraced “compulsory unionism,” which relies on special legal privileges from government to corral workers into a union with many having no say in the matter at all.

But with Right to Work states growing — six states have passed Right to Work in the past five years — and the potential Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME looming that could give every government employee Right to Work protections, union officials may be forced to confront a future without the power to force workers to pony up.

At a recent Massachusetts AFL-CIO conference named after Gompers, union officials even organized a special panel titled “How to Survive Right To Work.”

Without government-granted power to compel support, union officials would need to listen to their members and prove to them that paying union dues is worth it.

Union officials may find that level of accountability scary, but it’s exactly how Gompers would have wanted it.

This op-ed originally appeared in the September 3, 2017 New York Post.

Sign up for Foundation Action Newsletter

Please sign up here for your free copy of the bi-monthly newsletter of the National Right to Work Foundation to be mailed directly to you.
4 Jan 2018

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Foundation Case to End Public Sector Forced Dues

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2017 edition. To sign up for a free copy of the newsletter via mail please see the form at the bottom of the page.

First Amendment lawsuit challenging mandatory union payments could free over 5 million public employees

WASHINGTON, DC – On September 28, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear Janus v. AFSCME, which challenges mandatory union fees for public employees as a violation of the First Amendment. Mark Janus is a civil servant child support specialist from Illinois who turned to attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Liberty Justice Center for free legal aid when he felt that his rights were violated by forced union fees.
Janus’ attorneys will argue that forcing employees to pay money to union officials as a condition of government employment violates the First Amendment. If the High Court agrees, the ruling would create a precedent protecting every public employee from being forced to subsidize union activities.

Illinois Worker’s Lawsuit Reaches High Court

The Janus case began in February 2015, when newly-elected Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner issued an executive order prohibiting state agencies from requiring nonmember state employees to pay union fees, based on a 2014 Right to Work Foundation U.S. Supreme Court victory in another Illinois case. Rauner also filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, asking for a declaratory judgment that the forced fee provisions violate the First Amendment and that his executive order was valid.

In March 2015, staff attorneys from the Foundation and the Liberty Justice Center filed a motion for Mark Janus to intervene in the case. Janus’s complaint requested not only a declaratory judgment but also an injunction and damages from the unions for the compelled fees. Ultimately, the court granted Janus’ motion to intervene which allowed the suit to continue to move forward even after the court ruled that Governor Rauner lacked the proper standing to pursue the lawsuit.

After the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 following Justice Scalia’s death in a case which raised the same constitutional issue, Janus became the lead case challenging forced dues as a violation of the First Amendment.

Citing Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which permitted public sector unions to require fees to subsidize monopoly bargaining, both the district court and later the Seventh Circuit Court of appeals ruled against Mr. Janus as expected. That allowed Foundation staff attorneys to file a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case. In September the Supreme Court announced it would hear Janus, making it the 18th Supreme Court case litigated by Foundation attorneys.

Janus follows a series of decisions that suggest a willingness by the Supreme Court to reconsider the constitutionality of forced union fees. In 1977, the High Court held in Abood that, although union officials could not constitutionally spend objectors’ funds for some political and ideological activities, unions could require fees to subsidize monopoly bargaining.

Recent Foundation Supreme Court Victories Set Stage for Landmark Showdown

However, in 2012, the Supreme Court began to question Abood’s underpinnings. In Knox v. SEIU, brought to it by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, the Court held that union officials must obtain affirmative consent from workers before using workers’ forced union fees for special assessments or dues increases.

In the opinion Justice Samuel Alito authored, the door was left open to challenge all forced union fees as a violation of the First Amendment. Alito wrote, “By allowing unions to collect any fees from nonmembers and by permitting unions to use opt-out rather than opt-in schemes when annual dues are billed, our cases have substantially impinged upon the First Amendment rights of nonmembers.”

Two years later, the Foundation assisted a group of Illinois home care providers, including Pam Harris, a mother taking care of her disabled son, in case challenging a state scheme authorizing Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials to require providers like Harris to pay union dues or fees. National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys took the case to the Supreme Court, which held that the forced dues requirement violated the First Amendment.

‘I was never given a choice’

In its Harris ruling, the Court continued to criticize the reasoning of Abood and refused to extend Abood to the “new situation” before it. The decision held Illinois’ provider forced dues scheme unconstitutional and cracked the door even further open for the Court to revisit Abood and the constitutionality of forced union fees, which it is now doing in Janus.

For Mark Janus, the case is about reclaiming his voice and his First Amendment rights stripped away by forced union fees. By standing up for his rights, his case could establish a precedent that would protect over 20 million teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public employees in America.

“The union voice is not my voice. The union’s fight is not my fight,” Janus wrote in an op-ed featured in the Chicago Tribune. “But a piece of my paycheck every week still goes to the union.”
“I went into this line of work because I care about kids. But just because I care about kids doesn’t mean I also want to support a government union,” he continued. “Unfortunately, I have no choice. To keep my job at the state, I have to pay monthly fees to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, a public employee union that claims to ‘represent’ me.”

“The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of association. I don’t want to be associated with a union that claims to represent my interests and me when it really doesn’t.”

Janus stressed that he just wants all Americans to have the opportunity to exercise that freedom of association whether they want to join a union or not.

“I’m definitely not anti-union. Unions have their place and many people like them. … I was never given a choice,” he told the Washington Free Beacon. “I really didn’t see that I was getting any benefit [from the union]. I just don’t think I should be forced to pay a group for an association I don’t agree with—that goes to the First Amendment.”

“Somebody’s got to do something,” Janus said in the interview. “I figure it’ll be a wake-up call to the union that they would have to provide a better benefit [to workers].”

“[The case] has national implications, but I don’t look at that way, I just look it as an average guy standing up for his own rights and free speech. I don’t look at is if I’m anybody special or anybody extraordinary,” the civil servant child worker said.

Foundation Attorney to Argue Forced Dues Showdown

As this issue goes to print a date has not yet been set for oral arguments, although the Supreme Court has notified Janus’ Foundation-provided staff attorneys to expect arguments in January. Because Janus is considered one of the highest-profile cases the High Court has agreed to hear, Supreme Court experts expect a ruling would come at the very end of the 2017-2018 term in June.

Veteran Foundation staff attorney William Messenger will argue the case before the nine Justices, in what will be his third oral argument before the Supreme Court. In 2014, Messenger was lead attorney in the Foundation’s Harris victory, which successfully struck down forced dues for homecare providers as a violation of their First Amendment rights.

As National Right to Work Foundation president Mark Mix told the New York Times when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case: “We are now one step closer to freeing over five million public sector teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other employees from the injustice of being forced to subsidize a union as a condition of working for their own government.”

Sign up for Foundation Action Newsletter

Please sign up here for your free copy of the bi-monthly newsletter of the National Right to Work Foundation to be mailed directly to you.
19 Dec 2017

SPECIAL NOTICE FOR ALL SEASONAL AND TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES

Posted in News Releases

Springfield, VA – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has issued a Special Legal Notice for all temporary workers during the Holiday Season who may be unaware of the rules and laws surrounding forced unionism and forced union dues.

Often times, union officials mislead individuals about their legal rights to refrain from union membership and payment of union dues or fees. This is especially true when it comes to temporary or seasonal employees. Under federal law, workers cannot be forced to pay any money to a union during their first 30 days of employment.

When employees are misinformed about their rights, they can end up paying their entire paycheck to union officials as one National Right to Work Foundation-aided worker found.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix issued the following statement regarding this legal notice:

“Each year during the Holiday Season, union bosses play the role of Grinches by seizing the paychecks of temporary workers trying to earn some extra money for themselves and their families around the holidays. ”

“Temporary workers should be wary of deceitful tactics used by union officials, and even some employers, designed to fill union coffers with dues money that workers cannot be required to pay. All temporary workers should read the Foundation’s legal notice to ensure their legal rights are not being violated and contact our Foundation attorneys for free legal aid if they suspect their rights have been infringed upon.”

Please read the Foundation’s Special Legal Notice for temporary workers here.

29 Nov 2017

Worker Files Opening Brief in Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court Case Seeking to Strike Down Forced Union Fees

Posted in News Releases

Worker Advocate: It is time for the Court to recognize that the First Amendment protects public employees from being forced to subsidize union speech

Washington, DC (November 29, 2017) – Today, attorneys for Illinois public servant Mark Janus filed the first merits brief in the Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME. The brief asks the High Court to recognize that the First Amendment protects public workers from being required to make payments to union officials as a condition of working for their own government.

Plaintiff Mark Janus is an Illinois child support specialist who filed the challenge with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Liberty Justice Center. Janus is currently required to pay union fees to AFSCME union officials even though he opposes many of the positions union officials advocate using his money and feels he would be better off without the union’s so-called representation.

In the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case, a divided High Court ruled that public employees could not be required to subsidize many political and ideological union activities; however the court left in place forced fees used to subsidize union monopoly bargaining with the government. In a series of cases in the last five years the Supreme Court has begun to question the theory underpinning Abood.

In the National Right to Work Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU (2012) and Harris v. Quinn (2014) cases, the Supreme Court made clear that mandatory union payments invoke the highest level of First Amendment protection. In Janus, Mark Janus asks the Supreme Court to apply this heightened scrutiny to all mandatory union payments required of government employees.

If the High Court rules in Janus’ favor, over 5 million public school teachers, firefighters, police officers and other government employees who currently are forced to pay money to union officials just to keep their jobs would be free to decide individually whether or not to make voluntary union payments. Oral arguments in the case are now expected to occur in late February.

“Forced union fees remain the largest regime of compelled speech in the nation,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Forty years ago in Abood, the Supreme Court erroneously left forced fees in place citing the artificial distinction between union officials’ ideological activities and union bargaining with the government that inherently seeks to alter public policy.”

“Now that the Janus case is being briefed for argument at the High Court, we are hopeful that in the coming months the Supreme Court will correct this anomaly in First Amendment jurisprudence by striking down all mandatory union payments for public workers,” continued Mix. “Americans shouldn’t forfeit their First Amendment protections just to work for their own government.”

“Government workers like Mark Janus shouldn’t have to pay for union politics just to keep their jobs,” said Jacob Huebert, director of litigation at the Liberty Justice Center. “The First Amendment gives everyone the right to choose which political groups they will and won’t support with their money.”

28 Nov 2017

Public-Sector Worker Files Lawsuit Challenging Forced Union Dues Payments as Violation of First Amendment Rights in Puerto Rico

Posted in News Releases

P.R. Aqueduct and Sewer Authority employee’s lawsuit against union officials and Governor’s office for illegal forced dues seizures

San Juan, PR (November 28, 2017) – Utilizing free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, a Puerto Rican Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) employee in San Juan, PR has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of public sector union officials’ forced dues powers.

The case argues that Puerto Rico’s labor law requiring the plaintiff employee to join the union and pay union dues as a condition of government employment violates his First Amendment rights. Reynaldo Cruz is a PRASA plant operator who has been forced to pay union dues despite attempting to exercise his right to resign from Unión Independiente Auténtica De Los Empleados De La Autoridad de Acueductos y Alcantarillados union (UIA) last year.

Late last year, Cruz sent letters to UIA and PRASA resigning his union membership and objecting to the payment of the portion of forced dues that are used for UIA’s political and ideological activities. Cruz cited his First Amendment rights under the National Right to Work Foundation-won Supreme Court case Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, including the right to pay reduced dues.

UIA officials responded rejecting his request, informing Cruz that if he wished to cease his union membership and stop paying dues, then he must end his employment with PRASA or seek a position outside their monopoly bargaining unit. Union officials and PRASA bosses continued deducting money from Cruz’s paycheck for full forced union dues as a condition of employment.

On April 4 of this year, Cruz’s Foundation-provided staff attorney sent union and PRASA officials a notice requesting back pay for dues illegally taken as well immediate cessation of all dues deductions from Cruz’s paycheck. UIA officials and PRASA administrators denied Cruz’s requests, citing the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s statutes authorizing “all-union agreements” and “maintenance of membership agreements.”

In response, Cruz is suing UIA officials and PRASA administrators for infringing upon his rights recognized by the Foundation-won Supreme Court precedent. Because Cruz is challenging the constitutionality of PR statutes, he has also named the Governor of Puerto Rico in his suit.

In addition to asking the union to respect his rights under the Hudson precedent, Cruz is also asking the court to rule that forced payment of any union dues or fees violates his First Amendment rights. That issue is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-backed Janus v. AFSCME case. Janus was filed for an Illinois government employee, Mark Janus, who is forced to pay dues to AFSCME union officials.

Janus is expected to be argued in January, with a decision likely by the end of the Supreme Court’s term in June. Cruz’s case joins six other ongoing Foundation-backed cases challenging mandatory union payments for government employees as a violation of the First Amendment.

“This case shows the lengths to which union officials will go to extort every last cent from workers they claim to ‘represent’, even in clear violation of long-standing Supreme Court precedent,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Every American worker, whether in the 50 states or in Puerto Rico, should have Right to Work protections that ensure that union membership and dues payment are strictly voluntary.”

13 Nov 2017

Hospital Employees Ask NLRB to Overturn Ruling Forcing Them Under SEIU Representation Despite Overwhelming Opposition

Posted in News Releases

Employees file motion to intervene to challenge Labor Board ‘accretion’ doctrine used to impose SEIU monopoly bargaining on them against their will

Lehigh Valley, PA (November 13, 2017) – With legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, employees at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Schuylkill East filed a motion with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC to intervene in a case to assert that their rights were violated when Service Employees International Union (SEIU) “representation” was imposed on them against their will.

The 160 workers at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Schuylkill East were not given a choice whether or not to be placed under SEIU monopoly bargaining power. Recently, an NLRB Regional Director ordered workers at Schuylkill East be added to the bargaining unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Schuylkill South.

In 2016, employees at Schuylkill East completely rejected SEIU officials’ attempts to unionize their workplace, with SEIU organizers failing to even file a petition for an election, which would require the signatures of 30% of the hospital workers. However, employees at the nearby separate facility, Schuylkill South, have been unionized for several decades. But, neither SEIU organizers nor NLRB officials have ever produced evidence of Schuylkill East employees’ desire for any kind of union representation.

Nevertheless, in October NLRB Regional Director Dennis Walsh ordered that Schuylkill East workers should be forced into the slightly larger Schuylkill South monopoly bargaining unit, citing the NLRB’s ‘accretion’ policy. The workers at Schuylkill East were never given a vote and were accreted into an unwanted organization for the convenience of union officials.

Walsh previously had been suspended one month without pay by the NLRB, following an Inspector General’s investigation into Walsh for using his position with the NLRB to solicit contributions to a pro-union scholarship fund from union officials from unions with cases at the Labor Board. Reports indicate that the SEIU was one of the unions that made payments to Walsh’s fund.

The employees have now moved to intervene and requested review of the Regional Director’s decision at the NLRB in Washington, DC. They are asking that they be made a party to the case, because it is their freedoms and rights at stake. Specifically, they seek to challenge the accretion order, which imposes forced unionization on them against their will.

“This case demonstrates how the National Labor Relations Act, which is ostensibly about the rights of employees, has been weaponized against independent workers who wish to remain free of union bosses’ so-called representation,” said Mark Mix president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “These employees successfully opposed an SEIU organizing campaign at their workplace only to have a union partisan at the NLRB force the union on them without a vote or any showing of interest.”

“Like so many pro-forced unionism NLRB policies, the ‘accretion doctrine’ is not mandated by the National Labor Relations Act but is the creation of Board bureaucrats seeking to further the interests of union organizers,” continued Mix. “This case gives the new Trump NLRB the opportunity overturn this outrageous doctrine that is being used to trap workers in a union they never asked for and successfully opposed only a year ago.”