Federal Appeals Court Rules for Michigan Worker in Case Challenging Union Officials’ Scheme to Block Employees from Opting Out of Dues
Today a three judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected an appeal filed by IBEW union lawyers of a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling won by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys on behalf of Michigan worker Ryan Greene.
In February 2017, the NLRB ruled union officials had violated the law by requiring workers to present their ID in person at the union hall to exercise their rights to resign from the union and cut off all dues payments, as protected by Michigan’s Right to Work law.
In response to today’s Court of Appeals ruling affirming the NLRB decision, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens issued the following statement:
“Today’s ruling is another victory for independent workers seeking to exercise their rights under Michigan’s popular Right to Work law. This case demonstrates that even when union membership and dues payment is voluntary, whether because of state Right to Work legislation or a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, union officials regularly do whatever they can to block workers from exercising their protected legal rights. Instead of cooking up schemes to trap workers like Ryan Greene 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.”
On Monday, February 26, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney William Messenger argued at the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME, arguing that forcing government workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment violates the First Amendment.
After oral argument, Messenger appeared live from the Court steps on Fox Business Channel:
SCOTUSblog provided a summary of the oral argument:
The Supreme Court heard oral argument today in Janus v. American Federation of State, Municipal, and County Employees, a challenge by an Illinois child-support specialist to the fees that he is required to pay to the union that represents him, even though he does not belong to any union. Although this is the first trip to the Supreme Court for Mark Janus, the employee, it was the third time in four years that the justices have taken the bench to consider the issue presented by Janus’ case. After roughly an hour of sometimes testy debate in the courtroom, the outcome almost certainly hinges on the vote of the court’s newest justice, Neil Gorsuch – who did not tip his hand, opting instead to remain silent.
Mandatory fees require dissenting nonmembers to support beliefs they reject. But the right of free speech, as the court long has recognized, includes the freedom not to speak. To force someone to pay for the advancement of political positions without his or her consent is incompatible with the First Amendment.
For background on Janus, click here.
Commentary: Does the NLRB’s Inspector General Have a Double Standard for When Board Members Must Recuse?
In a new commentary for The Federalist Society, National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond J. LaJeunesse discusses an inconsistent standard for recusals at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB):
Traditionally under the National Labor Relations Act, a company was considered to be a joint employer of another company’s employees only if the putative joint employer had direct and immediate control over the other company’s employees’ material terms and conditions of employment. However, in 2015, a National Labor Relations Board majority appointed by President Obama overturned thirty years of precedent in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc., 362 NLRB No. 186 (3-2 decision), holding that a company is a joint employer even if it only exercises indirect control of essential terms and conditions of employment or only reserves the right to do so.
The issue was addressed again by the Board in late 2017 in Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors, Ltd., 365 NLRB No. 156 (3-2 decision). In Hy-Brand, a Board majority appointed by President Trump overruled Browning-Ferris and returned “to the principles governing joint-employer status that existed prior to that decision.”
One of the Board Members in the Hy-Brand majority was William Emanuel. Neither Emanuel nor his former law firm was involved in Hy-Brand at any point, nor has anyone claimed that either represented a Hy-Brand party at any time in any other matter. However, the NLRB’s Inspector General was asked by someone to investigate whether Emanuel should have been recused in Hy-Brand because his former law firm, but not Emanuel, represented one of the employers in Browning-Ferris before the Board.
Over Labor Day weekend in Investor’s Business Daily, National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix made the moral and economic case for ensuring that no worker should be required to join or pay dues or “fees” to a labor organization as a condition of employment:
The case for Right to Work has always centered on the freedom it provides workers, but there is also overwhelming evidence that freeing workers from forced dues gives Right to Work states an economic leg up.
From 2005-2015, private-sector job growth was 15.4% in Right to Work states compared to just 10.4% in forced-unionism states, according to government statistics compiled by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research. The same research shows that once you adjust for the cost of living, workers in Right to Work states had on average $2,500 more to spend in disposable personal income than their forced-unionism counterparts.
Read the full column by clicking here, and stay tuned to our blog for more Labor Day media appearances.
Yesterday in the Washington Times, National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix discussed one of Big Labor’s special legal privileges, the exemption from federal prosecution for acts of violence:
The recent acquittal of four Boston Teamsters charged with attempting to extort the producers of the popular “Top Chef” television show is the latest illustration of a loophole in federal law that permits organized labor to engage in acts of extortion that would be illegal if anyone else tried it.
Since a 1973 Supreme Court decision exempted union extortion and racketeering actions from the Hobbs Act, so long as the object being extorted constituted a legitimate union objective, union thugs have been getting a free pass on violence and threats such as what occurred in June 2014.
In a recent post on the Federalist Society website, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Vice President Legal Director Ray LaJeunesse responded to demands by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) that Trump’s lone remaining current NLRB nominee recuse himself from numerous potential cases:
“Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has suggested that Emanuel should ‘also sit out any case involving the hotly contested question of whether employers can force their workers to sign class action waivers,’ because he ‘has represented parties on the class action waiver issue in a case before the board, . . . his firm is counsel in a number of others . . . and he has also co-written briefs in U.S. Supreme Court cases arguing that the agreements aren’t unlawful restraints on employees’ right to engage in collective activity.’ (Emphasis added.)
However, unless the standards for recusal are more stringent for nominees of President Trump than they were for nominees of President Barack Obama, Emanuel can ethically ignore Senator Warren’s suggestion and need not recuse himself in all class-action waiver cases, even though that is a ‘hotly contested’ issue.”
The post goes on to cite Obama NLRB Member Craig Becker, who refused to recuse himself from a case to end protections for employees who had union monopoly bargaining imposed through the coercive and unreliable “card check” scheme. The Foundation’s press release on that case can be found here. Becker had previously weighed in on the issue as counsel for the AFL-CIO but that didn’t stop him from recusing himself when the NLRB voted 3-2 to end employees’ ability to force a secret ballot vote after a union was installed through card check.
To read the whole post, please click here.
Court Rejects Misleading Ballot Language in Big Labor Attempt to Overturn Missouri Right to Work Law
With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a group of Missouri workers have just won a victory in their fight to defend the new Missouri Right to Work law from Big Labor attempts to repeal the new law through misleading ballot measures.
In the ruling that was just issued by Cole County Circuit Court Judge Green, the AFL-CIO union-backed repeal referendum ballot language was deemed “improperly, unfairly, and insufficiently constructed…” Judge Green further noted that “The People [of Missouri] are entitled to consider a question which is phrased in a grammatically-competent manner.”
Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, issued the following statement on the ruling:
“Union bosses know that giving workers a choice when it comes to union membership and payment of union fees is popular. This is why they are so intent on misleading the public about their attempts to overturn Missouri’s Right to Work law. Today’s ruling is an important step in defending the right of Missouri employees to work without being forced to pay tribute to a union boss.”
Foundation Legal Director Ray LaJeunesse’s commentary on Janus v. AFSCME featured on The Federalist Society Website
With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, an Illinois state employee’s legal challenge to forced union dues and fees for public sector workers has garnered significant media attention nationwide since the petition to the Supreme Court of the United States was filed on June 6. Recently, Foundation Legal Director Ray LaJeunesse wrote a blog post on The Federalist Society’s website about the case, Janus v. AFSCME. An excerpt is below.
Twice in the past five years the United States Supreme Court has questioned its holding in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977) (6-3 decision on this issue), that the First Amendment allows a government to force its employees to pay “agency fees” to a labor organization that is their “exclusive representative” for purposes of “collective bargaining” with the government.
To read the whole post please click here.
Foundation President Mark Mix’s exclusive op-ed on Ending the Obama Labor Board Majority was published in the Friday print and e-print edition of The Washington Times
Below is an exert from the piece. Please click here to read the full op-ed.
“Elections have consequences, or at least they are supposed to. Unfortunately for the rights of independent workers who don’t want to associate with a labor union, more than 100 days have passed since Barack Obama left office, but the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) remains in the hands of an Obama majority intent on pushing the limits of Big Labor’s forced unionism powers. It doesn’t need to be that way.
The five-seat NLRB, with two vacancies, remains controlled by a two-to-one Obama majority. Until two new members are nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate, the Big Labor majority will continue to issue rulings to expand union boss powers.”
Newsmax published Foundation President Mark Mix’s op-ed on the Obama National Labor Relations Board’s assault on independent-minded workers over the past eight years and its effects today. Below is an exert from the piece.
Maureen Madden is a bookkeeper at Lakeside Foods, a unionized independent grocery store located in greater Chicago. Early this March, Madden filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), cosigned by every other unionized employee at the store, asking that United Food and Commercials Workers (UFCW) Local 1456 be “decertified.”
In plain English, that means that not a single one of the employees wanted UFCW officials to continue wielding monopoly power to negotiate their terms and conditions of employment.
To read the rest of the op-ed please click here.