Worker Advocate Slams Biden NLRB Appointee’s Decision to Nix Complaint against Union and Hotel for Colluding to Unionize Employees
Withdrawal comes after Biden’s unprecedented dismissal of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, who backed appeal of housekeeper who filed case
Washington, DC (January 29, 2021) – Following President Biden’s unprecedented firing of Senate-confirmed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Peter Robb, President Biden’s new ersatz Acting General Counsel ordered the withdrawal of an unfair labor practice complaint against a Seattle-area UNITE HERE union local and the Pioneer Square Embassy Suites in Downtown Seattle.
With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Gladys Bryant, a housekeeper at the hotel, charged both union officials and hotel management with covertly using a “neutrality agreement” to impose union representation on her and her coworkers without an employee vote. In November 2019, Robb sustained an appeal Bryant’s attorneys filed after NLRB Region 19 originally dismissed her charges against Embassy Suites and UNITE HERE, ordering Region 19 to reverse course and issue the complaint.
Today, on the instructions of the Biden-selected “Acting General Counsel,” the Seattle Regional Director rescinded the complaint against the union and employer rather than let it proceed to a trial conducted by an Administrative Law Judge that was set to begin on February 16.
National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix issued the following statement blasting the Biden NLRB’s decision to end prosecution of the case:
“The withdrawal of this complaint shows exactly why President Biden carried out his unprecedented, legally dubious firing of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb: so Biden’s handpicked NLRB replacements could protect the privileges of Biden’s union boss political allies at the expense of individual workers’ rights. In this case, like many others, Robb enforced the statutory rights of independent-minded workers against union boss attempts to coerce workers into union ranks and dues payment.
“The complaint in this case, issued following this hotel housekeeper’s successful appeal to Robb, was against both union officials and her employer and merely sought to ensure that the Board’s ‘ministerial aid’ standard is applied neutrally, no matter whether workers are seeking to remove or impose union monopoly bargaining powers. Today’s action shows that Big Labor and its allies in the Biden Administration are unwilling to even apply the NLRA in a fair, unbiased manner when doing so empowers workers who refuse to toe the union line. The National Right to Work Foundation is proud to stand with workers challenging all types of union coercion. Ms. Bryant’s Foundation staff attorneys are currently exploring her legal options for challenging this attack on workers’ rights and the independence of the NLRB General Counsel.”
Bryant filed unfair labor practice charges after the UNITE HERE Local 8 union was installed at the Embassy Suites hotel in May 2018 through an oft-abused “card check” drive which bypassed the NLRB’s regular secret-ballot election process. As part of the so-called “neutrality agreement,” Embassy Suites gave union organizers space in the hotel to meet and solicit employees. It also provided union officials with a list of all employees’ names, jobs, and contact information to assist the union in collecting authorization cards from workers. Moreover, hotel management sent employees a letter telling them that it “had a productive relationship” with the union.
After NLRB Region 19 officials declined to prosecute the union or employer for violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), Bryant appealed the case to NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb in January 2019. In response to the appeal, Robb found that the union’s “card check” recognition was tainted because Embassy Suites through the “neutrality agreement” provided significant aid to the union officials’ organizing efforts in violation of the NLRA.
Bryant’s Foundation attorneys argued that Embassy Suites provided UNITE HERE’s organizing campaign with more than so-called “ministerial aid” and thus violated the NLRA. The NLRB has long held that an employer taints employees’ efforts to remove a union if it gives the employees support such as providing a list of bargaining unit employees or use of company resources. Robb agreed with Foundation staff attorneys that the “ministerial aid” standard must apply consistently regardless of whether an employer’s assistance is in favor of or opposed to unionization.
President Biden Fires NLRB GC Robb in Unprecedented Move
On January 20 at 12:23 PM, a mere 23 minutes after the President formally took office, President Biden’s Office of Presidential Personnel demanded that Robb resign or be fired. After Robb refused to resign, citing the unprecedented nature of the demand, he was fired that same day. Robb’s deputy, Alice Stock, received a similar unprecedented threat only to be fired as well the next day when she refused to resign.
Since the office of NLRB General Counsel was established in 1947, no sitting General Counsel of the NLRB has ever been terminated by a president before the end of their Senate-confirmed four-year term, even when the White House changes hands. For example, Obama’s pick for General Counsel, former union lawyer Richard Griffin, remained the General Counsel for most of the first year after Trump’s election (until his term expired on 10/31/17).
Aside from supporting Bryant’s and other employees’ cases challenging unfair “neutrality agreements,” Robb has ordered complaints to be issued for independent workers in Foundation-backed cases challenging other illegal union practices. Robb has been particularly protective of workers’ rights in cases where workers seek to challenge union officials’ attempts to coerce them into subsidizing union political activities (which could include efforts to elect Biden). Robb has also backed rule changes that make it easier for employees to exercise their rights to vote out unions that are unpopular or established themselves as monopoly bargaining agents through underhanded means.
“Robb’s unprecedented removal is nothing more than a payback to one of Biden’s biggest political backers – union bosses – whom Robb frequently prosecuted for violating federal labor law, including by illegally forcing workers to support Big Labor’s electoral efforts,” added Mix.
National Workplace Advocacy Group to Charter School Teachers: ‘Don’t Be Afraid to Exercise Your Rights to Resist Union Boss Power’
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President issues statement in recognition of National School Choice Week
Washington, DC (January 29, 2021) – Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, issued the following statement in recognition of National School Choice Week 2021:
In this year’s School Choice Week, more and more Americans are seeing firsthand the benefits of letting parents choose which type of education will best serve their children’s needs. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, teacher union officials have held parents, children, and independent-minded teachers hostage to unreasonable and evidence-free demands designed to perpetuate and expand union officials’ one-size-fits-all monopoly over government education.
Prime targets of teacher union officials in recent years have been ever more popular and successful charter schools. Union bosses have even used Coronavirus as a pretense for demanding a moratorium on the opening of new charter schools, a cynical attempt to block teachers and parents from escaping union-dominated government school systems.
When they can’t block the existence of charter schools, teacher union bosses have employed coercive tactics to foist their so-called ‘representation’ onto charter school educators. This puts charter school students and teachers at risk: Many parents and teachers prefer charter schools precisely because they reject the one-size-fits-all approach national and state teacher union bosses promote.
Take, for example, Gompers Preparatory Academy in San Diego, California. The school made an impressive transition in 2005 from a traditional public school to a charter school after a campaign by parents, teachers, and administrators who believed that public school district and union bureaucracies were not serving the students’ interests.
In 2019, after being unionized through a contentious ‘card check’ drive that bypassed a secret-ballot election, Gompers teachers began circulating a petition for a vote to remove the union. Union officials have now for more than a year blocked the teachers from exercising their right to vote the union out. On top of that, union officials face legal charges filed by Gompers educators for attacking teachers and their coworkers on social media just for wanting to exercise their right to a vote to remove the union.
Charter school employees are entitled to certain constitutional and statutory rights, but unfortunately union officials frequently attempt to keep employees in the dark about those rights. That is why National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have provided direct, free legal aid to over 10,000 teachers since its founding, including the teachers at Gompers, and why the Foundation has its Charter School Initiative. Foundation-won legal precedents have also expanded the workplace rights of millions of teachers across the country.
Led by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the National Right to Work Foundation’s Charter School Initiative aims to enlighten charter school employees about their rights so that they can make decisions about union representation in an atmosphere free of union boss threats, harassment, coercion, or misrepresentation. To that end, Foundation attorneys have developed free educational materials for charter school teachers and other charter school employees. Furthermore, Foundation staff attorneys are prepared to defend charter school employees from the injustices of forced unionism, as they are now doing for Gompers teachers.
Charter school teachers and other employees: You have rights. For more information about your rights and the Foundation’s Charter School Initiative, check out our website at http://www.nrtw.org/charterschools.
Sacramento-Yolo Employees Win Ruling in California Labor Board Case Charging IUOE Union Bosses with Illegal Surveillance
Union boss demanded personal emails of Sacramento-Yolo District workers seeking information about holding a vote to remove the union from their workplace
Sacramento, CA (January 27, 2021) – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, three Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District employees just received a favorable decision from a California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The employees’ case charged that International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 3 officials interfered with their rights under California law to remove the union from their workplace by targeting their protected communications through a California Records Act request.
The ALJ decision confirms the workers’ charges that IUOE union officials had “unlawfully surveilled [their] protected conduct” and also finds that the workers were “harmed by the unlawful surveillance when they learned of it.” As a result, the decision orders union officials to immediately stop monitoring the workers’ email activity about the union. The decision also requires IUOE Local 3 to post copies of the decision in all Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District workplaces where the union maintains monopoly bargaining power and to send the decision to all bargaining unit employees through electronic means, including email.
The employees, Brett Day, Ryan Wagner, and Mark Pipkin, were targeted by union officials after they discussed with other District employees how to exercise their rights as public workers under California’s Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA). That statute guarantees public workers “the right to refuse to join or participate in the activities of employee organizations” and “the right to represent themselves individually in their employment relations with the public agency.” Union agents requested from their employer all emails the three and other named employees had sent containing the words or phrases “decertification,” “PERB,” “union,” “decertify,” “how to get rid of union,” “Public Employee Relations Board,” and “Meyers Milias Brown Act.”
That request was made as IOUE officials sought to block a push for a decertification election, in which workers would vote in secret to determine whether a majority want to end the union’s monopoly representation. Under the 2018 Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the dissenting workers finally have the legal right to stop financial support of the union, yet California law still forces the union on them as their monopoly bargaining agent.
Day, Wagner, and Pipkin defended themselves by obtaining free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys and filing charges with PERB. The workers’ charges argued that the union’s demand for employee emails interfered with their right to communicate with their coworkers about voting out the union, as protected by the MMBA. In May 2019, PERB found merit in Day, Wagner, and Pipkin’s charges and issued a complaint on which to prosecute the union.
The decision notes that employees’ knowledge of being spied on by union officials “has a deleterious effect on [their] future exercise of rights” and thus ruled that Day, Wagner, and Pipkin “suffered harm to their protected right to communicate with coworkers about unionization, decertification, and the Union in general.” The ALJ’s decision will become the PERB’s official decision in 20 days, unless one of the parties files exceptions to it.
“IUOE union bosses’ conduct in this case clearly demonstrates that they were far more interested in maintaining their one-size-fits-all bargaining power over Day, Wagner, and Pipkin’s workplace than in respecting the rights and privacy of the very workers they claim to represent,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This favorable decision underscores why government sector union bosses should not have the privilege of forcing their so-called ‘representation’ on all employees in a public workplace, especially not over the objections of employees who oppose the union.”
“Even though the Foundation-won Janus decision eliminated the scourge of forced union dues for public employees, there is ultimately no place for compulsory unionism of any kind in state or federal labor law,” Mix added.
Foundation Offers Free Legal Aid to Workers Impacted by Biden Executive Order Cancelling Keystone XL Pipeline Project
Workers have legal options to hold union officials accountable for backing a President who moved to destroy their jobs on day one
Washington, DC (January 25, 2021) – Today, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced an offer of free legal aid to workers whose economic opportunities have been harmed by the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The offer comes after President Biden, elected with the backing of union bosses using workers’ dues money, immediately moved to cancel the project and the jobs it would have provided.
Federal law gives short shrift to workers who labor under union compulsion, but there are ways to hold union officials accountable when they push positions detrimental to the interests of the rank-and-file. The limited legal options available to workers do include cutting off union financial support and holding a decertification election to vote union officials out of their workplace.
The now cancelled Keystone XL Pipeline project reportedly would have meant the hiring of over 8,000 workers subject to union monopoly representation, who would have been paid an estimated $900 million in wages in 2021 alone. James T. Callahan, the top official at the International Union of Operating Engineers (IOUE) even admitted the project would have been good for the unionized workers, calling it “welcome news and irreplaceable as the U.S. continues our economic recovery.”
Despite the benefits the pipeline would provide for rank-and-file workers, IOUE officials endorsed Joe Biden for president and spent workers’ dues money backing his election despite his promise to eliminate the pipeline project as part of his pledge during his campaign “to end fossil fuel.” Following through on his threat, President Biden revoked the pipeline’s permits on his first day in office, thereby eliminating the jobs and wages that would have been created had the project moved forward.
The National Right to Work Foundation website (www.nrtw.org) contains detailed information on how workers can exercise their rights to cut off financial support for union officials’ activities that directly resulted in the elimination of their jobs and economic opportunities.
In the 27 states across the country with Right to Work protections that make union membership and financial support strictly voluntary, union bosses cannot force workers to pay any dues to keep their job. Workers in Right to Work states, including South Dakota and Nebraska, which would have directly benefitted from the project, can find information on how to resign their union membership and stop all union payments here.
In states that have yet to pass a Right to Work law, like Montana, another state that would have benefitted from investments in the Keystone XL Pipeline, although workers can be required to pay some union fees, they cannot be forced to fund union political activities. Workers in states without Right to Work protections can learn how to exercise their right to cut off the portion of dues used for union political activities here.
Workers in every state also have the legal right to remove a union from their workplace and strip union officials of their monopoly bargaining power. Workers can learn more about their right to hold a decertification election to vote out a union here.
Additionally workers should know that if they would like assistance in exercising any of these rights, they can contact the Foundation for free legal aid through the Free Legal Aid Request Form or by calling the Foundation toll free at 1-800-336-3600.
“Workers should not be forced to financially support union bosses who use workers’ money to back candidates willing to destroy their jobs with the stroke of a pen,” commented National Right to Work Foundation president Mark Mix. “Although union officials want to keep workers in the dark about these rights, workers deserve to know the legal options they have to hold union bosses accountable for pushing an agenda that actively undermines the employment opportunities of rank-and-file workers.”
United Rock Products Foreman Wins Settlement in Case Challenging Illegal Forced Dues Demands by Operating Engineers Union Officials
IOUE officials threatened workers’ jobs to extract dues for period before a monopoly bargaining contract had even been signed with their employer
Irwindale, CA (January 22, 2021) – Wes Ginier, a foreman with United Rock Products won a settlement in his case at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against International Union of Operating Engineers (IOUE) officials for illegally demanding he and his coworkers join the union and pay union dues before a monopoly bargaining contract was even in effect. He filed the Unfair Labor Practice charges with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
As detailed in the charges filed in May 2020, the IOUE signed a monopoly bargaining contract with Ginier’s employer in March of that year. Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), a union monopoly bargaining contract cannot require payment of union dues or fees until after 30 days have passed. Despite this, IOUE officials demanded that Ginier pay dues and become a member of the union on March 26, 2020, prior to the expiration of the 30-day period.
Not only did this demand violate the NLRA, it also violated the 1963 NLRB v. General Motors Supreme Court decision, which protects workers from being forced to become full union members. According to his charge, union officials threatened Ginier, telling him he would lose his job if he did not comply with their demands.
According to the charges, IOUE officials also “demanded and collected dues for a period of time when there was no [monopoly] bargaining agreement.” Workers were also told if they refused to pay these dues from before the monopoly bargaining contract was signed, they would lose their jobs.
Ginier’s charges further stated that IOUE officials failed to explain employees’ rights under CWA v. Beck. In the Supreme Court’s decision in Beck, the High Court declared that employees have the right not to be union members and to pay a reduced fee if they object to funding Big Labor politics and lobbying efforts. IOUE officials failed to inform Ginier and his coworkers of their right to pay this reduced fee, and instead insisted they must pay full dues and become full members, or else lose their jobs.
As part of the settlement, IOUE officials are required to post a notice explaining workers’ rights under Beck, including that they cannot be compelled to pay the portion of regular dues that goes towards union politics and other activities unrelated to the union’s bargaining activities. The settlement also requires union officials to inform new employees of these rights, and to “include sufficient information to enable the employees to intelligently decide whether to object” to membership and full union dues.
“IOUE union bosses were so eager to extract forced dues payments from Wes Ginier and his coworkers that they couldn’t even wait the legally required 30 days before threatening workers to pay dues or else be fired,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation president Mark Mix. “This case demonstrates again the willingness of union bosses to use deception and coercion to line their pockets, even at the expense of the very workers they claim to represent.”
Transdev Employees at the Fairfax Connector Ask National Labor Relations Board to End Contentious Policy Blocking Workers’ Right to Vote Out Unwanted Union Bosses
“Contract bar” manipulated by union bosses to maintain power in workplace despite valid employee-backed petition for vote to remove union
Washington, DC (January 14, 2021) – Two Transdev employees working at the Fairfax Connector are asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC, to review their case, which seeks to remove Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 2 as their monopoly representative. The pair filed a Request for Review with the NLRB with free legal aid from staff attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which is based in Springfield, VA.
The petitioner, Amir Daoud, and proposed substitute petitioner, Sheila Currie, are asking that the full NLRB overturn the “contract bar.” That is a non-statutory NLRB policy which forbids employees from exercising their right to vote out an unpopular union for up to three years after their employer and union finalize a monopoly bargaining contract. Based on this restrictive policy, the NLRB Regional Director in Baltimore dismissed Daoud’s petition for an NLRB-supervised vote to eliminate the union, despite the fact that the petition was signed by the requisite number of his coworkers to trigger such a “decertification” vote.
Daoud and Currie’s Foundation-provided attorneys point out that the “contract bar” is utterly absent from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the federal law the NLRB enforces. They argue that it should be eliminated because it infringes on rank-and-file employees’ right under the NLRA to remove unions that lack majority support.
The Request for Review notes that in June 2020, after almost a year of talks, Transdev workers voted down a tentative agreement that had been presented to them by an OPEIU agent. Despite this, the Request for Review states, in October 2020 “a Union representative informed certain [employees] via teleconference that he had negotiated a new agreement” and “‘intended’ to sign it without a ratification vote.” He did not tell employees when he planned to sign the contract.
Following news of union officials’ plan to charge ahead with the contract without employee consent, Daoud filed the decertification petition on November 10, 2020. The Request for Review notes that he and his coworkers were only informed after the petition’s filing that the new contract had been signed by union agents on October 30 and Transdev representatives on October 31.
NLRB Region 5 in Baltimore dismissed the decertification petition on December 22, ruling that the “contract bar” applied because the employees’ decertification petition was submitted just after the new contract was signed, even though the employees had no way of knowing whether or when that signing would occur. This prompted Daoud and Currie to ask the NLRB in Washington to review their case. Because Daoud recently accepted a job with Transdev outside the OPEIU’s monopoly bargaining control, the Request for Review asks the NLRB to recognize Currie as the new petitioner to represent the interests of the workers who signed the decertification petition.
The Request for Review contends that the “contract bar” should be nixed because it is “contrary to the [NLRA’s] paramount objectives of employee self-representation and free choice” and “has the effect of forcing unwanted representation on employees for as long as three years.” The Request exposes the arbitrariness of the “contract bar,” pointing out that the NLRB Regional Director applied it “merely because the Union ‘won the race’ and signed the contract ten days” before Daoud submitted the petition, even though the petition clearly demonstrated the employees’ interest in voting the union out.
Foundation attorneys are currently litigating two other cases for workers whose right to vote out an unpopular union has been stymied by the “contract bar.” Most notably, Delaware Mountaire Farms employee Oscar Cruz Sosa and his coworkers are currently waiting for the NLRB to rule on their Foundation-backed case challenging United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union bosses’ similar attempts to block their right to vote the union out.
In that case, UFCW officials claim that the “contract bar” should apply to bar any elections at Mountaire, despite an NLRB Regional Director allowing the vote based on his finding that the union contract contained an invalid forced dues clause. When the UFCW bosses asked the full NLRB to review the Region’s order allowing the election, Cruz Sosa filed a brief urging that, if the Board granted the review, it should use the opportunity to review the entire non-statutory “contract bar” policy. The Board is now doing just that. The UFCW union bosses are even arguing that the impounded ballots already cast by Mountaire workers should be destroyed, claiming the election should never have been held.
In Daoud and Currie’s Request for Review, Foundation attorneys ask that if the NLRB decides not to review their case, it should at least hold it in abeyance pending the ruling in Cruz Sosa’s similar case. Additionally, just a week ago, Foundation attorneys submitted a similar Request for Review to the NLRB for armored transport guards in San Juan, Puerto Rico, who are seeking to remove Private Security and Valuables Transit Professionals Union officials from their workplace.
“The facts of this case demonstrate exactly why the contract bar should be eliminated. After workers voted to reject an earlier proposed union contract, union bosses surreptitiously entered into a contract behind workers’ backs in an attempt to ‘game the system’ and use the ‘contract bar’ to block workers from voting them out,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The ‘contract bar’ is an affront to the federal labor law’s supposed protection of employee free choice. It merely serves to entrench self-serving union bosses even when there is clear evidence that the very workers that they claim to represent want them gone.”
San Juan Armored Transport Guard Asks Labor Board to Nix Controversial Policy Blocking Workers’ Votes to Remove Union
Union officials using “contract bar” to trap worker and his coworkers in union ranks despite valid employee-backed petition seeking secret-ballot election
Para leer este articulo en español, haga clic aquí.
San Juan, PR (January 8, 2021) – A San Juan-based guard employed by Ranger American Armored Services has just submitted a Request for Review to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC. His Request asks that the full board take up his case seeking an NLRB-supervised secret-ballot election to remove the Private Security and Valuables Transit Professionals Union from his workplace. The Request for Review was filed with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
The guard, Edwin Roman, asks the NLRB to review the Regional Director’s decision to block the election on the basis of the “contract bar,” a non-statutory NLRB policy which forbids employees from exercising their right to vote out an unpopular union for up to three years after an employer and union bosses have finalized a contract. The “contract bar” is not in the text of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the federal law the NLRB is charged with enforcing. As Roman’s Request for Review argues, it should be ended because it only serves to entrench union bosses even though the NLRA explicitly guarantees workers the right to hold secret-ballot elections to “decertify” unions opposed by the majority.
As detailed in the Request for Review, on November 18, 2020, Roman submitted a petition signed by the requisite number of his coworkers needed to trigger an NLRB-supervised secret-ballot decertification election at his workplace. The Request for Review lists opposition to the “Union’s representation, its contract, and its requirement that” employees pay dues to union bosses or be fired as reasons that Roman filed the petition with his colleagues’ support. At this point, Roman and his coworkers had already been working under the current monopoly bargaining contract for about a year.
On December 21, 2020, the Director of NLRB Region 12 in Tampa, Florida, dismissed Roman’s petition at union officials’ behest, claiming that the “contract bar” prevents this decertification attempt. This prompted Roman to appeal his case to the full NLRB.
Roman’s Request for Review points out that the contract bar “has no basis in the text of” the NLRA, and that the NLRB’s original interpretations of the statute favored “full freedom of association and foreclos[ed] any contract bar.” According to the Request for Review, the contract bar only came about as the result of later union boss-friendly decisions by the Board.
The request also contends that the “contract bar contradicts the [NLRA’s] well-established ‘bedrock principles of employee free choice and majority rule’” by allowing a union to force its representation on employees “even in the face of objective evidence proving the union has lost majority support.” It also points out that the only restriction on workers’ right to hold a decertification election actually provided in the NLRA is the one-year “bar” after an election, making the non-statutory three-year “contract bar” a particularly egregious restriction on workers’ rights under the Act.
Roman and his colleagues are not the only employees fighting for the overturn of the “contract bar” with Foundation legal assistance. Delaware Mountaire Farms employee Oscar Cruz Sosa and his coworkers are currently waiting for the NLRB to rule on their case challenging United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union bosses’ similar attempts to block their right to vote the union out.
In that case UFCW officials, despite receiving a decision from an NLRB Regional Director permitting the employees’ requested vote because the union contract contained an invalid forced dues clause, still claim that the “contract bar” should apply and that the Mountaire workers’ already-cast ballots should be destroyed. When the union asked the full NLRB to review the Region’s order, Cruz Sosa filed a brief arguing that if the Board granted the review it should use the opportunity to review the entire non-statutory “contract bar” policy, which the Board is doing.
“The ‘contract bar’ undermines one of the fundamental objectives of federal labor law: employee free choice. It makes rank-and-file employees prisoners of an unpopular union, merely because union honchos and an employer struck a contract between themselves,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This inevitably creates an environment in which, as Mr. Roman and his coworkers can certainly attest, it’s impossible to hold self-serving union bosses accountable because workers are denied the right to vote them out for three years.”
University of Puerto Rico Workers File for Court Injunction to Stop Union Officials’ Threats to Healthcare
Union officials threaten to take away healthcare benefits unless employees “authorize” years of prior illegal union dues deductions
Para leer este articulo en español, haga clic aquí.
San Juan, PR (January 4, 2021) – Employees of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against the University of Puerto Rico Workers Union. The motion comes as part of the employees’ class action lawsuit against the University’s President in his official capacity and the union for illegally seizing dues from workers’ paychecks without their authorization.
Jose Ramos and Orlando Mendez originally filed their class action suit in May 2020 with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys. The lawsuit contends that union and university officials are infringing on its employees’ rights as recognized in the 2018 Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision. In Janus, the High Court ruled that requiring public employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment violates the First Amendment, and further held that union fees can only be taken from public employees with an affirmative waiver of the right not to pay.
Mendez and Ramos have been employed by the University as maintenance workers since 1997 and 1996, respectively. From then, the complaint says, university and union officials “have regarded Ramos and Mendez as members of the Union” and seized dues from their paychecks, despite neither ever having signed a union membership or dues deduction authorization form.
On December 29, 2020, the lawsuit was amended to include two additional plaintiffs, and to specifically challenge a recent attempt by union officials to coerce university workers into signing a document retroactively approving all previously deducted dues and consenting to an unspecified number of future deductions. According to the complaint, employees who do not comply with union officials’ demands that they sign this document will lose access to the employer provided healthcare plan the union administers.
On December 30, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to block union officials’ efforts to force employees to choose between losing their healthcare and retroactively agreeing to union dues deductions taken in violation of their rights. The motion also asks the court to block and reverse union efforts to bar health insurance from employees who refuse to sign away their First Amendment rights.
The employees’ lawsuit contends that union and university officials violated the First Amendment by seizing dues from employee paychecks without written authorization, and by requiring employees to become full union members in violation of longstanding precedent. The lawsuit additionally seeks an order forbidding further enforcement of the unconstitutional schemes and requiring the union to refund to employees dues that were seized illegally “within the … 15-year statute of limitations period for breach of contract.”
“For years, University of Puerto Rico Workers Union bosses have gotten away with taking dues out of the pockets of those they claim to represent without ever getting their permission,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Now, instead of seeking to win workers’ voluntary support, they’re threatening to take away the healthcare of anyone who doesn’t meet their demands as they attempt to retain years of unconstitutional union dues deductions.”
“We hope the court will move quickly and grant the injunction to block union officials’ blatantly unconstitutional actions,” added Mix.