Union bosses sought to impose coercive in-person ID requirement on workers seeking to exercise the right to stop paying union fees
Springfield, VA (February 15, 2017) – With legal representation provided by attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a Michigan worker has won a battle against illegal barriers created by union officials seeking to restrict workers from resigning their union membership and exercising their rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law.
In October 2014, after Michigan’s new Right to Work law went into effect, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 58 union officials imposed a new policy governing the procedures for resigning formal union membership and revoking dues checkoff. These procedures demanded that resignations take place in person at the Local 58 union hall in Detroit, Michigan, where the worker would have to present photo identification and a corresponding written resignation and/or dues checkoff revocation.
After the policy was implemented, Ryan Greene, a worker who lives several hours away from the IBEW Local 58 union hall, decided to exercise his right to resign his formal union membership and revoke his dues checkoff authorization. Upon encountering the restrictive policy created by Local 58 union officials, Greene filed a federal Unfair Labor Practice charge with the NLRB alleging that the new policy was unlawful and violated the rights of workers as guaranteed in the National Labor Relations Act.
The ULP charge argued that forcing workers to appear in person with a photo ID violated workers’ rights by illegally hindering their right to resign at any time from the union and to revoke dues checkoff authorizations.
The regional General Counsel for the NLRB investigated and issued a complaint. The administrative law judge who heard the case dismissed the complaint, but the Foundation staff attorneys appealed to the full NLRB for Greene.
After the briefing concluded, the NLRB issued a 2-1 decision determining that the policy set by Local 58 officials infringed on workers rights. The Board’s opinion rules that the policy was an illegal restriction placed by the union on the members’ rights to resign and revoke, because it imposes a significant burden on exercising those rights.
“This case is just another example of union officials’ campaign to prevent the workers they claim to ‘represent’ from exercising their rights under the state’s popular new Right to Work law,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Instead of cooking up schemes to trap workers into paying union dues, union officials should ask themselves why they are so afraid of giving workers a choice when it comes to union membership and dues payment.”
Since Michigan enacted its Right to Work law in 2012, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have successfully worked to defend the law against union challenges and assist workers in exercising their right under the law to resign from union membership and stop all payment of union dues and fees. Since the law was enacted, Foundation attorneys have filed some 28 legal actions for Michigan workers seeking to exercise their rights as protected by Right to Work.
Under Obama, National Labor Relations Board became a promoter of forced unionism powers rather than a neutral arbitrator
Washington, DC (February 14, 2017) – This morning, National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions. The Subcommittee, which is chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), held a hearing titled “Restoring Balance & Fairness to the NLRB.”
LaJeunesse, who has worked at the Foundation, whose staff attorneys have represented thousands of employees in unfair labor practice and representation cases before the NLRB, for over forty-five years, including as Legal Director since 2001, laid out the damage done to independent-minded workers over the past eight years by the Obama NLRB. From forcing nonmembers to subsidize union politics, barring secret-ballot elections in favor of coercive card-check schemes, imposing “ambush election” rules, and gerrymandering bargaining units into “micro-units” to ensure union victories, the damage has been immense.
“I commend you for investigating the adequacy of the National Labor Relations Board’s enforcement of the rights of individual workers under the National Labor Relations Act to refrain from union associations. Unfortunately, the Board majorities President Obama appointed have in many respects denied or diminished those rights,” testified LaJeunesse.
LaJeunesse provided many recommendations to the Subcommittee on how to bring this about, first and foremost by suggesting President Trump nominate two nominees to fill the vacant NLRB seats who will defend the rights of all workers, including those who prefer not to affiliate with a labor union. Other specific recommendations made by LaJeunesse to the Committee include restoring protections for secret-ballot elections as the preferred process for “certifying” a union as the monopoly bargaining representative, more vigorously enforcing employees’ rights not to fund union politics and lobbying, undoing the Obama NLRB’s biased “Ambush Election” Rule, and ending the NLRB’s discretion to certify micro-units.
National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix commented, “As Mr. LaJeunesse laid out in his testimony before Congress, the past eight years under the Obama NLRB have been dismal ones for the rights of America’s independent-minded workers. I urge Congress to exercise its oversight powers to ensure that the NLRB returns to being a neutral arbitrator rather than, too often, an arm of Organized Labor with the goal of expanding Big Labor’s forced dues ranks.”
National Right to Work Foundation Launches Missouri Task Force to Defend and Enforce New Right to Work Law
Foundation staff attorneys will provide free legal aid to Missouri workers seeking to exercise new Right to Work protections
Springfield, VA (February 13, 2017) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced today the creation of a special task force to defend and enforce Missouri’s newly-passed Right to Work law. Foundation staff attorneys will offer free legal advice and aid to Missouri workers seeking to exercise their right to refrain from union membership and union dues payment, as guaranteed by the Right to Work law.
One week ago, on Monday, February 6, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed into law Right to Work legislation, thereby making Missouri the nation’s newest and 28th Right to Work state.
Foundation staff attorneys are prepared to defend the Missouri Right to Work law from any spurious legal challenges brought by union officials. Big Labor, unwilling to give up their forced-dues powers, routinely challenges Right to Work laws in courts despite the fact that Right to Work laws have repeatedly been upheld.
Unfortunately, union officials also often try to stymie independent-minded workers who seek to exercise their rights under Right to Work laws. Any Missouri worker who has questions about his or her rights, or encounters any resistance or abuse while trying to exercise his or her workplace rights, is encouraged to contact Foundation staff attorneys for free legal aid.
“Passing a Right to Work law is just the first step; as these protections for Missouri workers must be defended and enforced,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Union bosses will go to great lengths to keep workers in their forced-dues grasp. The National Right to Work Foundation will fight to make sure that every Missourian’s Right to Work is protected because no worker should ever be forced to pay union dues or fees just to get or keep a job.”
Affected employees are encouraged to call the Foundation’s legal hotline toll-free at 1-800-336-3600 or contact the Foundation online at www.nrtw.org to request free legal assistance or to learn more about their new rights.
Task Force Staff Attorneys Filed Lawsuit Challenging Biased Ballot Petition Language Approved in Political Payback by Big Labor-backed former Secretary of State
Previously, with free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys three Missouri workers filed legal challenges in late January against ten separate initiative-petitions that designed to block the Right to Work law that was at the time being considered for final passage by the Missouri Legislature. If approved by the voters in the 2018 general election, the ballot measures would prevent the Missouri General Assembly from prohibiting forced-unionism agreements, essentially overturning the Missouri Right to Work law.
All three of the plaintiffs – a nurse and two Kansas City Police Officers – will be directly affected by the passage of any of the union boss-backed ballot measures because they would lose their Right to Work without being compelled to subsidize a labor union.
With passage of Right to Work looming and Governor Eric Greitens pledging to sign the bill into law, union bosses scrambled to put numerous initiative-petitions to kill the law on Big Labor-friendly Jason Kander’s desk for his approval before he left office. Secretary Kander unsuccessfully challenged Senator Roy Blunt in the 2016 election, with his campaign largely funded by the union boss political machine that submitted these petitions.
Secretary Kander approved all ten just hours before vacating his office on January 9, with the intent of having them appear on the 2018 general election ballot if the measures’ Big Labor-backers obtain the required number of signatures.
Although required to draft summary statements to inform petition signers and voters of the effect of the proposed amendments, former Secretary of State Kander’s midnight actions seem designed to hide from Missouri voters what the ballot measures would put in Missouri’s constitution. None of the proposals even mention the Right to Work law that they are clearly designed to nullify.
National Right to Work Foundation Actively Defending Recently-Enacted Right to Work Laws
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has a long history of assisting employees seeking to exercise their Right to Work rights, most recently under Right to Work provisions enacted in Kentucky, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana
The Foundation created a special legal task force to protect and enforce the newly passed Kentucky Right to Work law. The task force also released a special legal notice to Kentucky workers detailing their rights under the new law and have been taking calls from dozens of workers seeking information.
Late last year with the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys an employee at the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia, Reginald Gibbs, filed a motion to intervene in the ongoing lawsuit concerning the West Virginia Right to Work law that was passed in early 2016. Although the State of West Virginia was already defending the law in the case, the motion noted that Gibbs has a special interest in defending Right to Work and his attorneys can offer legal arguments distinct from those raised by state lawyers. Foundation staff attorneys have also filed several amicus briefs defending the Right to Work law.
In Wisconsin which passed a state Right to Work law in 2015, Foundation staff attorney’s submitted amicus briefs in both federal and state court in response to union boss lawsuits that allege that Right to Work laws constitute an “illegal taking” of union resources. A Federal Judge struck down the Federal lawsuit and the State lawsuit is pending.
In Michigan, which passed both private sector and public sector Right to Work in 2013, Foundation staff attorneys filed two amicus curiae briefs defending the Right to Work laws against two lawsuits. Both lawsuits were eventually unsuccessful. Additionally, Foundation attorneys have filed over 88 actions for Michigan workers seeking to exercise their Right to Work.
After the passage of a Right to Work law in Indiana in 2012, union bosses sought to wipe out the law with two lawsuits in State court and one in Federal court. Foundation staff attorneys submitted amicus curiae briefs in both State court cases and conferred with the State’s lawyers about what legal arguments to make for the State against the union boss challenge to Right to Work in federal court. The Right to Work law was ultimately upheld in all three union boss lawsuits.
Union bosses used controversial rule to gain a foothold in Chattanooga VW plant after previous floor-wide votes failed
Washington, D.C. (February 3, 2017) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a worker in the Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagen plant has filed an amicus curiae brief with the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals asking the court to overturn the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that allowed United Auto Workers (UAW) union bosses to gain access to the plant’s workers through a micro-unit scheme.
In February 2014 workers at the plant rejected UAW union representation in an NLRB sanctioned election. Undeterred, UAW bosses sought to gain a foothold in the plant through a 2011 NLRB decision that allows for what is termed “micro-unit organizing.” The recent NLRB decision allows union officials to gerrymander specific groups of employees into micro-units for union representation votes. In December 2015, the UAW used this tactic to win a vote for a micro-unit, thus imposing a coercive one size-fits-all monopoly bargaining contract on those workers.
Patrick Penderfraft is one of the workers in the VW micro-unit who voted against union representation. He opposed the UAW’s gerrymandering of workers to gain a victory in the vote. The Foundation has now assisted him in filing a brief in D.C. Circuit Court arguing that his vote on union representation was diluted because the micro-unit was substantially made up of pro-union employees rather than the whole workplace which had already rejected unionization.
In previous years, Foundation attorneys assisted workers in fighting back against other UAW union boss schemes to unionize the plant, including through card check organizing.
National Right to Work Foundation Mark Mix commented, “The gerrymandering scheme that union bosses used to gain a foothold in the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant is unfair to the workers who voted against union representation only to have the ground rules changed and now are forced into a monopoly union. All workers should have the right to decide on union membership through a secret-ballot election, like the one that took place in 2014 in which union bosses were rejected, instead of through manipulated micro-unit schemes.”
Check out the lead article in the January/February 2017 Foundation Action Newsletter “Foundation Cases Poised to Challenge Forced Dues at Supreme Court”
Foundation Cases Poised to Challenge Forced Dues at Supreme Court
Cases to overturn forced dues could quickly reach Supreme Court with new Trump Justice
To read the rest of the January/February 2017 issue, please click here.
Washington, D.C. – Over the past few months, Foundation staff attorneys have been busy litigating hundreds of cases on the behalf of independent-minded workers across the country. Two of those cases have the potential to reach the Supreme Court this year and answer the unresolved questions left in the wake of the 4-4 split in the Fredrichs v. California Teachers Association.
One of those cases, Janus v. AFSCME, stems from an executive order from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner that placed any union fees that nonunion members were forced to pay into an escrow account until the constitutionality of those fees was resolved. Governor Rauner subsequently filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and argued that collecting forced dues or fees from state employees as a condition of employment violated the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Foundation staff attorneys then filed a motion to intervene as plaintiffs for Mark Janus and other state employees who are forced to pay union fees as a condition of employment. A Judge eventually ruled that Governor Rauner did not have standing in court but let the Foundation-represented employees continue to challenge the constitutionality of forced fees.
After the Supreme Court reached a 4-4 deadlock in a similar case earlier this year, Friedrichs v. CTA, a District Judge ruled against Janus and the other state employees. Foundation attorneys immediately filed an appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and are awaiting a decision. It is possible that a petition for a writ of certiorari could be filed with the Supreme Court later this year.
The second case, Serna v. Transportation Workers Union (TWA), is a class-action lawsuit brought by several American Eagle Airlines and Southwest Airlines employees U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas was pending with the Supreme Court as this issue of Foundation Action went to press. That suit challenges the constitutionality of the Railway Labor Act’s sanction of agreements that require compulsory union fees as a condition of employment.
Even though these employees work in the private sector, the Supreme Court has previously ruled that because the Railway Labor Act (RLA) effectively mandates forced fees for railway and airline workers, it effectively fosters the same Constitutional issues as were raised for government employees in Friedrichs. Therefore, success in Serna on the First Amendment claims against forced dues would effectively overturn forced dues for public sector workers.
After the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the airline employees citing the Friedrichs deadlock, Foundation staff attorneys filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court. The Court was scheduled to consider the petition on January 6 and a decision whether to take the case or not could follow shortly after, or the Justices may decide to hold the case in light of the potential for a 4-4 tie until a ninth Justice is seated.
“Both of these cases have the potential to answer the ultimate question that was left unresolved by Friedrichs and that is whether or not it is constitutional to force workers to pay union bosses tribute to get or keep a job,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said.
In addition to Serna and Janus, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have two additional cases working their way through the courts – one on behalf of university professors in Massachusetts and one for school employees in Kentucky – that directly challenge the constitutionality of mandatory union dues. More cases directly challenging the constitutionality of government-mandated forced union dues are expected to be filed by Foundation staff attorneys in 2017.
National Right to Work Foundation Offers Free Legal Aid to Boeing Employees Facing Vote over IAM Monopoly Union Powers
Foundation staff attorneys previously represented South Carolina Boeing workers against IAM officials who sought to close the North Charleston plant
Springfield, VA (January 26, 2017) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has released a special legal notice for Boeing workers at the North Charleston, SC plant in light of the recent announcement that IAM officials were moving to initiate a vote to impose monopoly control over all frontline employees at the facility.
Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation released the following statement regarding the notice and offer of free legal aid:
“In 2011, IAM union officials sought to eliminate thousands of jobs in South Carolina by filing spurious unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB seeking to shutter the North Charleston facility. In light of the IAM union bosses’ history of denigration and antipathy towards the Charleston workers, the Foundation is deeply concerned that IAM union organizers’ may use intimidation tactics or other illegal conduct in the run up to the vote.
“That is why it is vital that every Boeing South Carolina employee know they can request free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Foundation staff attorneys previously provided legal representation to Boeing employees to successfully defend their jobs against demands by IAM officials that the plant be closed.”
The legal notice details what is at stake in the vote and offers free legal aid to employees facing possible illegal conduct by IAM officials or their agents. The full notice can be found online at: www.nrtw.org/BoeingSC
Affected employees may also call the Foundation’s legal hotline toll-free at 1-800-336-3600 or contact the Foundation online at http://www.nrtw.org/free-legal-aid to request free legal assistance.
Pro-Right to Work Missouri Workers File Lawsuits Challenging Language of Union Boss-Backed Forced Dues Ballot Measures
Outgoing Secretary of State approved Big Labor-backed measures hours before leaving office in apparent political kickback
Jefferson City, MO (January 23, 2017) – With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys three Missouri workers filed legal challenges against ten separate initiative-petitions that could wipe out a potential Missouri Right to Work law and strip away any newly-won Right to Work protections for them and hundreds of thousands of other Missouri workers.
Although statutorily required to draft summary statements to inform petition signers and voters of the effect of the proposed amendments, former Secretary of State Kander’ s midnight actions seem designed to hide from Missouri voters the ballot measures would put in Missouri’s constitution. None of the proposals even mention the Right to Work law that they are designed to render unconstitutional.
With a Right to Work bill likely to pass the Missouri Legislature in the coming weeks, and Governor Eric Greitens pledging to sign the bill into law, union bosses scrambled to put numerous initiative-petitions to kill the law on Big Labor friendly Jason Kander’ s desk for his approval before he left office. Secretary Kander approved all ten just hours before vacating his office. They would appear on the 2018 general election ballot if they obtain a sufficient number of voter’s signatures.
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement:
These deliberately misleading initiative petitions are nothing more than an attempt by Big Labor to confuse voters in hope that the confusion will result in overturning popular Right to Work protections.
Missourians should be outraged that outgoing Secretary of State Jason Kander, who was supported by thousands of dollars of forced dues in his recent unsuccessful Senate campaign, granted union bosses this huge political payoff just before stepping out of office. All workers should have the right to get or keep a job without having to pay tribute to a union boss, and those rights should not be put in jeopardy because of a political favor given to union hours before he leaves office.
Special Notice Informs Employees of Their Newly-Won Rights
Springfield, VA (January 18, 2017) – Today the National Right to Work Foundation released a Special Legal Notice for workers in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, informing them of their rights under the nation’s most recently passed State Right to Work law. Kentucky’s Right to Work law allows workers to cease being a member of the union and stop paying any dues, fees, or other financial support to an unwanted union.
The Kentucky Right to Work law applies to collective bargaining contracts entered into, extended, or renewed on or after January 7, 2017. If you are subject to a contract in effect before January 7, 2017, you can be compelled to either pay union dues as a union member or fees as a nonmember until that contract expires or is renewed or extended. Even if you are subject to a contract in effect before January 7, 2017, nonmembers have the right to object to a portion of those fees and pay reduced fees until the Right to Work law is effective for you. For more information on the law and the new protections for Kentucky workers, please click here.
National Right to Work Foundation cases follow up on Supreme Court split on constitutionality of mandatory union fees for government employees
Springfield, VA (January 18, 2017) – Government employees – including Pennsylvania teachers, California medical center employees, and New York school employees – across the nation are filing three new federal court cases challenging the constitutionality of public sector union officials’ forced dues powers. These cases, being filed today with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation, argue that state requirements that the plaintiffs pay mandatory union fees as a condition of government employment violate the First Amendment.
Nearly 40 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in that public-sector workers could be compelled as a condition of employment to pay union fees. However, in two recent National Right to Work Foundation-won Supreme Court decisions, Knox v. SEIU (2012) and Harris v. Quinn (2014), the High Court suggested it was ready to revisit a 1978 precedent in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case, expressing skepticism about the constitutionality of public sector union officials’ forced-dues privileges.
Assisted by staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation, two California Santa Clara Valley Medical Center pharmacists – Jeffery Lum and Andrew Li –are filing suit against SEIU officials in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose assisted by Foundation staff attorneys.
Three school workers in New York state have filed suit against the electrical workers union and Governor Cuomo in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in Utica.
In Pennsylvania, the Foundation is working with the Fairness Center on behalf of four schoolteachers from three school districts that have filed suit against the Pennsylvania State Education Association union in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.
A similar challenge came before the Supreme Court last year, in Freidrichs v. CTA. While the Court ended up tied 4-4 in Friedrichs after the death of Justice Scalia, these three new cases join the growing number of lawsuits that challenge forced dues and fees in the public sector. Foundation staff attorneys have previously filed cases on the issue in Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
“It takes a lot of courage to stand up for freedom,” said Rebecca Freidrichs, lead plaintiff in Freidrichs v. CTA. “I’m so proud of and cheering for these four courageous Pennsylvania teachers, three brave New York school employees, and two more Californians who are standing up for our hard fought liberties and bringing these cases – it is my prayer they will be victorious so all Americans can have their First Amendment rights restored.”
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation issued the following statement on the three new cases:
“It is wrong that public employees are forced by the state government to pay fees and dues to a third party, a union, in order to keep their job as school teachers and public servants. For too long, the rights of public employees have been trampled by states that require them to pay dues to a labor union just to get or keep a government job.
“Over eighty percent of Americans support the right of all employees to work without being forced to pay tribute to union officials. Many public sector employees oppose the one-size-fits-all union monopoly bargaining contract, which makes it even more shameful that the government turns around and then forces these public servants to pay union officials for so-called representation they never wanted in the first place.”