Right to Work Foundation-Backed Employees Force Postal Union Bosses to Disgorge $1 Million Diverted from Backpay Award
American Postal Workers union officials forced to disgorge funds after being caught red-handed skimming back pay settlement intended for rank-and-file workers they claim to ‘represent’
Washington, DC (November 22, 2016) – In a significant victory for workers, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) has chosen to avoid going to trial and instead turn over more than a million dollars that union bosses diverted from the very postal workers they claimed to “represent.”
In December 2014, over seven thousand USPS workers were awarded a lump sum of back pay in an arbitration award. As part of an under the table agreement with the Postal Service, the APWU removed more than 1 million dollars from the award for its own use. In an effort to retrieve the missing money, two of the employees, Louis Mazurek and Scott Fontaine, filed unfair labor practice charges. Worried that the NLRB wasn’t taking their claims seriously, the workers turned to National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys for free legal assistance. The trial was scheduled for Wednesday November 9.
The day before the trial however, the workers were informed that the NLRB had agreed to a settlement with the union. Under the settlement, the APWU is forced to disgorge the money that they had withheld from the arbitration award. The settlement orders $770,804.58, or about 70 percent of the stolen money, to be divided among postal employees, just as the arbiter had originally ordered.
The remaining $330,326.70 is to be placed in a separate escrow account, with spending oversight provided by the NLRB Regional director for the next three years. After the three years any remaining funds will automatically go to the workers.
“It is appalling that the officials of the APWU could so casually take such a large sum from the workers whom they claim to represent.” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “When union officials were caught pocketing over a million dollars from the very workers they claim to represent, merely returning the money taken is a light punishment indeed. The lead union official stated, in a case document available to the public, that they ‘could have taken the whole award,’ but were afraid how embezzling the whole sum would look. ”
“The only thing more troubling is that had Foundation staff attorneys not been there to represent the interests of the rank-and-file workers, the NLRB may have allowed union bosses to keep all or part of the monies that the union bosses embezzled, with no hope of recovery.” continued Mix.
Today the National Right to Work Foundation along with the Liberty Justice Center, filed a brief on behalf of Illinois Government employees in the case Janus v. AFSCME. The case challenges the constitutionality of government union officials forced-dues privileges. The workers, all employed by the State of Illinois are currently required to pay union dues or fees to a union as a condition of their employment.
The case has the potential to go to the Supreme Court and answer the questions that the deadlocked Friedrichs case did not.
A District Judge recently dismissed the case back and the two employees, who are receiving free legal assistance from staff attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation and the Illinois Policy Institute’s Liberty Justice Center, filed an appeal of that dismissal in October.
National Right to Work Foundation Mark Mix was recently interviewed on The Illinois News Network about the case. Here are some of his comments.
“We think with the right justice, we could actually get a national right-to-work law for all government employees, thanks to the outcome of this past election.”
Mix said it could take a couple of months for a high court nominee to get approved by the U.S. Senate, but the Janus v. AFSCME case could get in front of the high court shortly thereafter.
The question is simple, Mix said: Is work that government employee unions do political in nature?
“They’re trying to advocate for certain government actions, and they’re trying to convince governments to do certain things with their resources, i.e. taxpayers’ resources, and so in that sense, it’s political speech,” Mix said.
“And if it’s political speech, it’s going to be protected by the First Amendment,” Mix said. “And if it’s protected by the First Amendment, then a worker can’t be compelled to pay anything to have someone, quote/unquote speak on their behalf.”
Mix said Illinois’ now $130 billion unfunded pension liability is the poster child of union power run amok, leaving taxpayers and government employees paying a huge price.
“And probably the biggest price will be paid by government employees who have done their job and probably are going to feel like they’ve been cheated when these pension problems really, really raise their heads, which I think they will sooner rather than later, unfortunately,” Mix said.
Workers File Brief to Stop NLRB from Imposing Unwanted Union that is Opposed by Two-Thirds of Employees
Right to Work Foundation brief argues NLRB is harming workers by imposing union over their objections
Hope, Arkansas (November 11, 2016) – National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, in St. Louis, opposing an NLRB ruling that forces workers at an Arkansas bakery into unwanted union representation. The brief was filed by the Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation on behalf of John Hankins.
Hankins is an employee of Southern Bakeries in Hope, Arkansas, and has been the leader of several efforts to remove Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers International Local 111 from his workplace. After the NLRB Regional Director refused to process multiple petitions from the workers at this facility to remove Local 111 as their exclusive bargaining representative, Hankins collected signatures from two-thirds of the employees asking that Southern Bakeries withdraw recognition of Local 111 as it “does not enjoy the support of a majority of employees in the bargaining unit.” Southern Bakeries complied with his request in July 2013.
Local 111 officials responded by filing unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB challenging Southern Bakeries’ withdrawal of recognition. The NLRB obtained an injunction to force the workers back into the union, but the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed. Now, at a later stage of the process, the NLRB is again asking that same court to reinstate the rejected union.
The Foundation’s brief argues that the NLRB order reinstating Local 111 as the monopoly bargaining agent grievously harms the workers of Southern Bakeries. Two-thirds of the employees signed the petition rejecting Local 111 officials’ representation, but the NRLB has completely ignored the employees’ wishes. The NLRB also tramples on the workers’ rights laid out in the First Amendment, the right to associate with whomever the workers choose, by forcing them into a monopoly bargaining situation without hope of relief. The brief asks the court of appeals to vacate the NLRB order and restore the workers’ freedom of association.
“It is outrageous that the Obama NLRB is using a federal court to stop employees from getting rid of a union that is overwhelmingly opposed, when the workers are simply trying to exercise their basic right to the freedom of association,” Foundation President Mark Mix said. “This is just the latest example of workers rights being trampled on by union officials and non-elected government bureaucrats, despite the protections offered by Arkansas’ Right to Work law.
Special Legal Notice Informs Workers That They Have The Right To Remain On The Job In Spite of Union Boss Ordered Strike
Springfield, VA (November 3, 2016) –The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation issued a special legal notice to the nearly 5,000 bus, subway, and trolley operators of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) workers who, according to reports, have been ordered by Transportation Workers Union (TWU) union bosses to strike beginning November 1.
Mark Mix, President of the NRTW Foundation, issued the following statement:
“All too often union bosses initiate strikes to further their own power even if striking is not in the best interest of rank-and-file workers, or of the public at large. Affected workers need to know that federal labor law is clear: any worker has the right to remain on the job during a strike if the business remains open. Further, all workers have the right to resign from union membership and avoid internal union discipline for breaking ranks with their union bosses.
To protect their rights and prevent union officials from retaliating against them in the form of internal union discipline, workers must follow certain procedures. To help workers understand their workplace rights in a strike situation, the Foundation has posted a special notice for SEPTA employees who have been ordered to strike.
Although workers have the right to continue working or return to work despite the union official-ordered strike, it is important that any worker who wishes to work during a strike resign his or her union membership before returning to work to avoid internal union discipline, including fines that have been as high as $50,000.
It is very important that affected workers understand their rights, and that they may turn to the Foundation for free legal aid if they encounter union boss resistance when trying to exercise those rights.”
Also, workers who see or encounter violence on the picket lines should contact and report such incidents to the Foundation. Workers may contact the Foundation through its website www.NRTW.org or by calling the Foundation’s toll-free hotline: 1-800-336-3600. The Foundation’s special legal notice for SEPTA workers may be found here.
Homecare Workers File Federal Lawsuit Against the State of Oregon and SEIU for Forced Unionization Scheme
National Right to Work Foundation-backed lawsuit for homecare workers seeks to stop SEIU from blocking them from exercising First Amendment rights
Salem, OR (November 3, 2016 – Staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Freedom Foundation have filed a lawsuit for several homecare workers against the State of Oregon and SEIU Local 503 in Federal court in Eugene, Oregon.
The lawsuit comes after both the state and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503 refused to stop deducting union dues and fees from homecare workers who either resigned or objected to union membership, refusing to accept dues ‘opt-out’ forms submitted by homecare workers.
The lawsuit also hits the state and union for deliberately obfuscating the resignation process, notably restricting homecare providers to only being allowed to choose to opt out of paying dues during an annual 15 day period that is different for each worker and unknown to the caregivers.
The Right to Work Foundation-won Harris v. Quinn Supreme Court case explicitly held that it is unconstitutional under the First Amendment to compel objecting nonunion providers to pay any union dues or fees.
The suit asks for an injunction to force union officials to honor the rights of home healthcare providers who exercise their constitutional right to cease financial support of a union. It also seeks refund of any dues and fees collected by SEIU 503 after providers objected to union forced dues payments.
National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix commented, “Union bosses feel no shame in taking money from family members who are providing care to loved ones. It is outrageous that these forced dues schemes continue to be forced on workers whom the union hierarchy claims to defend, even after the Supreme Court said these schemes are clearly unconstitutional.”
Foundation staff attorneys are helping home or childcare providers challenge similar schemes in Minnesota, Illinois, New York, and neighboring Washington State.
Special Notice for SEPTA Employees Represented by the Transportation Workers Union (TWU) Officials of the Transportation Workers Union (TWU) have ordered SEPTA employees out on strike.
The situation raises serious concerns for employees who believe there is much to lose
from a union-ordered strike.
Employees have the right under state and federal labor law to rebuff union officials’ strike
demands, but it is important for you to get informed before you do so.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO WORK DURING A STRIKE READ ALL OF
THIS SPECIAL NOTICE BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK – IT MIGHT
SAVE YOU THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS!
Union officials have a decades long history of disciplining, fining and abusing workers
who do not kow-tow to their dictates.
For this reason, many SEPTA employees may want to contact the National Right to Work
Legal Defense Foundation to learn how they can avoid fines and other vicious union discipline
for continuing to report to work to support themselves and their families. Much of the important
information about your rights can be found on our website here.
The Foundation wants you to learn about your legal rights from independent sources. You
should not rely on what self-interested union officials tell you. For over four decades, Foundation
attorneys have worked in the courts to protect and expand the rights of individual employees in
situations such as strikes. It is the nation’s premier organization exclusively dedicated to
providing free legal assistance to employee victims of forced unionism abuse.
SEPTA employees should know they have the following rights:
1) You have the right to resign your membership in the union. If you don’t support this union,
you can send the union a letter resigning your membership.
2) You have the right to go to work even if the union bosses order a strike. Union officials can
(and often do) levy onerous monetary fines against union members who work during a strike. So,
you should seriously consider resigning your union membership BEFORE you return to work
during a strike, which is the only way to avoid these ruinous union fines and discipline. See
Union Discipline and Employee Rights. Your resignation letter must be postmarked THE DAY
BEFORE you return to work, or hand delivered BEFORE you actually return to work.
3) You have the right to become an “objector” and pay only reduced fees instead of full
membership dues. If you become an objector, you will not be forced to pay for the TWU union’s
far-left political and social agenda.
4) You also have the right to revoke your dues check-off and stop allowing the union hierarchy
to automatically collect money from your paycheck every week while no contract is in effect.
You can send letters to the union and your employer revoking your authorization to have union
dues deducted from your paycheck.
5) If you wish to eject an unaccountable union hierarchy from your workplace, you have the
right to sign a decertification petition to obtain a secret ballot election to do so. See
Here is a sample letter for employees who wish to resign their union membership and become
NOTE: While not legally required, it is a better practice to send your letter to the union by
certified mail, return receipt requested, and save a copy of your letter and the return receipt to
prove delivery. If you hand deliver a letter, make sure that you have a reliable witness to the
delivery. In our experience, angry and dishonest union officials often pretend they did not
actually receive resignations and initiate discipline against non-striking workers anyway
Worker Files Charges Against Teamsters Officials for Illegal Threats in Response to Campaign to End Forced Dues
Teamsters Local 455 officials had just been reprimanded by the National Labor Relations Board for similar violations last month
Fort Morgan, CO (November 2, 2016) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys a local worker has filed federal unfair labor practice charges against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 455 union.
In charges filed by Francisco Manjarrez, union officials violated federal labor law by threatening to have him fired for exercising his right to circulate a deauthorization petition among workers at his workplace. If a deauthorization petition gains the necessary percentage of signatures, workers get to vote to end union bosses’ power to require them to pay money to the union or be fired.
After Manjarrez refused to back down from circulating the petition, union officials threatened illegal retaliation against him and his co-workers who had signed the petition. Union bosses went even further in retaliation for Manjarrez’s role in rallying disaffected workers, demanding that the employer fire him.
Manjarrez also asked to see a copy of the monopoly bargaining agreement between the union and his employer to which he is subjected to. Union officials refused to provide him a copy, an additional violation of federal law.
The charges against Teamsters Local 455 come just weeks after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against the union for violating federal labor law by not representing workers in a labor dispute who chose not to pay full union dues. The union was also charged with lying to workers that they would not be promoted or represented unless they paid full union dues or fees.
“This case shows what blatant disregard these union officials have for the law and the rights of rank-and-file employees whom they claim to represent,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This case underscores why Colorado workers need Right to Work protections to make union affiliation and fees strictly voluntary.”
National Right to Work Foundation assists teachers in legal fight to uphold the results of decertification election to remove AFT union from school
Washington, D.C. (October 31, 2016) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has denied an appeal of a decertification election by the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union. The NLRB ruling now cements in stone the results of the decertification election that took place at the Evergreen Charter School in June.
Under the National Labor Relations Act, private-sector employees in unionized workplaces have the right to petition for a decertification election to remove a union. With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, 22 Evergreen employees signed and submitted an election petition to the NLRB in April. Union officials then attempted to head off the vote by claiming that Evergreen Charter School is a public employer, and thus outside the NLRB’s jurisdiction.
Union lawyers claimed that the New York State Public Employment Relations Board has jurisdiction over Evergreen employees, an interpretation that the NLRB ultimately rejected. The NLRB accepted Foundation attorneys’ argument that the Evergreen Charter School is a private employer. Had the union’s arguments prevailed, the school’s employees would have been forced to pursue a much more onerous and complex process to remove the unwanted union.
During the decertification election that took place on June 15th, a majority of eligible employees voted against monopoly union representation. As a result, the AFL-CIO affiliated union was formally removed from the school and lost its workplace privileges. Union lawyers immediately filed a long-shot appeal to the NLRB which put on hold the election results until the NLRB ruled in favor of the teachers.
“We are pleased that this long legal fight is finally over,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix commented. “Given the fact that the NYSUT union bosses opposed the establishment of the Evergreen Charter School in the first place, it’s no surprise that these teachers and support staff rejected the union’s so-called ‘representation’. Teachers should not have to jump through all these hoops just to do what is right for their school and students.”
Rejected Big Labor legal theory claims union boss ‘right’ to seize forced dues from workers who reject union membership
Boise, ID (October 25, 2016) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix released the following statement regarding the United States District Court for the District of Idaho’s decision to dismiss Big Labor’s lawsuit in IUOE v. Wasden, which sought to overturn Idaho’s longstanding popular Right to Work law:
“Union lawyers all over the country, including here in Idaho, are pushing an outrageous legal theory attempting to create a constitutional ‘right’ for union bosses to extort money from workers forced to accept unions’ so-called representation. We are pleased that the court rejected this outrageous union legal theory and followed over 60 years of legal precedent.”
National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys submitted an amicus curiae brief in this case which the judge cited in the ruling. Foundation attorneys are also defending Right to Work laws in Wisconsin and West Virginia.
National Right to Work Foundation-backed lawsuit for homecare workers seeks to stop SEIU forced dues scheme
Olympia, WA –Staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Freedom Foundation have filed a federal, class-action lawsuit for several homecare workers against the State of Washington at the U.S. Court for the Western District of Washington in Tacoma.
The lawsuit comes after both the state and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 775 refused to stop deducting union dues and fees from homecare workers who either resigned or objected to union membership.
The Foundation won Harris v. Quinn Supreme Court case explicitly held that it was unconstitutional under the First Amendment to compel objecting nonunion providers to pay any union dues or fees.
The lawsuit also hits the state and union for knowingly deceiving workers about their constitutional right not to financially support the union and opt out of dues payments.
The suit asks for an injunction to force the union to honor the rights of home healthcare providers who exercise their constitutional right to cease the financial support of a union. It also seeks refund of any refund any dues and fees collected by SEIU 775 after providers objected to union forced dues payments.
National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix commented, “Union bosses are so desperate for forced dues to fill their coffers they feel no shame in extorting money from family members providing care to ill loved ones. It is a disgrace that these forced dues schemes are still going on around the country even after the Supreme Court said they were blatantly unconstitutional.”
Foundation staff attorneys are helping home or childcare providers challenge similar schemes in Minnesota, Illinois, New York, Oregon, and Washington State.