9 May 2014

National Right to Work Deeply Saddened By News of Fallen Alaska State Troopers

Posted by in Blog

Last week, two Alaska State Troopers, Patrick Scott Johnson and Gabriel Rich, were killed in the line of duty while conducting an investigation in Tanana, Alaska.

In addition to serving his community as a state trooper, Johnson was one of the five National Right to Work Foundation-assisted Alaska state troopers seeking to defend and expand the workplace rights of public servants in Alaska and across the country.

The Right to Work family is deeply saddened to hear the terrible news and sends condolences to the families of both troopers.

25 Nov 2013

Know Your Rights: Michigan’s Right to Work Law

Posted by in Blog

In December 2012, Michigan became the nation’s 24th state to pass Right to Work protections for its workers. On March 28, 2013, Michigan’s private sector and public sector Right to Work laws went into effect and Michigan workers finally have Right to Work protections.

If you are a private sector worker in Michigan and you want to know more about your rights under Michigan’s new Right to Work law, click here.  If you are a public sector worker, click here.

Recent media reports suggest that union bosses are attempting to skirt Michigan’s Right to Work law any way they can.  The Wall Street Journal even reported that a Michigan teacher union boss sent out a memo stating union officials should consider suing union members who exercise their Right to Work and refrain from union membership and dues payments.

Fortunately, the National Right to Work Foundation has of a special task force committed to defending Michigan workers who seek to exercise their rights under the state’s newly-enacted Right to Work law.  If you, or someone you know, needs legal assistance, please contact the National Right to Work Foundation by calling toll free 1-800-336-3600 or by clicking here.

28 Jun 2013

NLRB Watch: Breakdown of Cases Invalidated By Noel Canning Decision

Posted by in Blog

Foundation staff attorney, Ave Maria law professor, and former National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Member John Raudabaugh has published his latest installment to the Foundation’s "NLRB Watch" blog feature.

In "NLRB Watch" #8, titled "What the Noel Canning Decision Means for NLRB Cases," Raudabaugh charts what cases may be subject to challenge in the wake of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia’s ruling last month invalidating President Barack Obama’s controversial purported "recess appointments" to the Board. The court held President Obama could not constitutionality make those appointments without U.S. Senate confirmation because the Senate was not in recess. National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys filed an amicus curiae brief jointly with the Landmark Legal Foundation in the case.

As a result of the court’s ruling, since at least January 3, 2012, the Board has lacked a quorum as required by a U.S. Supreme Court precedent established in 2010, thus invalidating the Board’s rulings since that time. Click here to see a chart displaying the many cases invalidated by the court’s decision in Noel Canning.

Click here to read other posts located at the "NLRB Watch" page. And be sure to follow the National Right to Work Foundation on Facebook and Twitter to get alerts on new "NLRB Watch" posts!

13 Jun 2013

Union Thuggery Watch: Bizarre new photos expose Steelworker union intimidation during West VA strike

Posted by in Blog

In an ongoing case involving four West Virginia Constellium Rolled Products workers who continued to work during last fall’s Steelworker union-instigated strike against the company, recently-obtained photos portray the union militants’ intimidation of those workers.

Union militants put up an outhouse featuring a creepy hanging doll’s head and posted signs publicizing the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the workers who continued to work during the strike.

The four workers resigned their union membership in the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 5668 union before they continued to work during the strike. Under federal law, workers who refrain from union membership are exempt from the union’s constitution and bylaws and thus cannot be disciplined for continuing to work during a union boss-ordered strike.

After the strike concluded, the workers received threatening letters from USW Local 5668 union officials stating that the union hierarchy intends to levy retaliatory strike fines against the workers at "the maximum penalty allowed." Union officials also stated that the workers will be placed "at the bottom of the seniority list," which is a clear violation of federal labor law.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the four workers filed federal charges against the USW Local 5668 union with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last month.

 


If you or someone you know has been harassed, intimidated, or threatened by a union, please contact the National Right to Work Foundation at 1-800-336-3600, via email, or by clicking here.

10 Jun 2013

Harris v. Quinn Supreme Court Update

Posted by in Blog

Regular Freedom@Work readers may remember the case of Pam Harris, an Illinois woman who is challenging an SEIU scheme aimed at forcing her and other homecare providers into union ranks. For the past several years, Harris has received free legal assistance from Foundation staff attorneys. 

In November 2011, Harris filed a a petition for a writ of certiorari at the Supreme Court, challenging the SEIU’s forced-unionism scheme on the grounds that it violates homecare providers’ freedom of association and freedom of speech. Last June, the Supreme Court asked for a brief on the issues presented from the Solicitor General, a move that could indicate heightened interest in the case. The Solicitor General’s brief was filed in early May. Harris’s Foundation-provided staff attorney submitted a reply shortly thereafter. 

Although we hoped the Supreme Court would announce whether it would take the case this morning, it was not on today’s orders list, meaning the case will be conferenced again this Thursday. That makes this coming Monday (June 17th) the likely day the Court will announce whether or not it will take the case. 

For more information on the case, including links to Harris’s petition and several amicus curiae briefs filed in support of her arguments, check out Scotusblog.  

5 Jun 2013

Updated Analysis: Right to Work States Still Enjoying Faster Growth, Residents Have Higher Purchasing Power

Posted by in Blog

Tthe National Institute for Labor Relations Research has updated its fact sheet comparing various statistics in Right to Work states and forced-unionism states, and Right to Work states continue to enjoy more growth and purchasing power for citizens than their forced-unionism counterparts.

Over the past ten years, private sector employment opportunities in Right to Work states have grown by 6.4%, compared to just 0.4% job growth in states that allow forced unionism. Other economic indicators – from purchasing power to employee compensation – are equally stark. No matter how you slice the numbers, Right to Work states simply perform better than their forced-unionism neighbors.

The case for Right to Work laws has always rested on the importance of employee freedom, but it’s nice to know that protecting worker rights has other, more tangible benefits. Over the past several years, studiessurveys, and job reports have all confirmed that freedom in the workplace yields impressive economic results.

Click here for the full NILRR fact sheet.

2 May 2013

FOUNDATION ACTION: Foundation Legal Director Warns Congress of NLRB’s Big Labor Bias

Posted by in Blog

NOTE: This article is from the March-April issue of Foundation Action, our bi-monthly newsletter. You can sign up to receive a print edition of the newsletter here.  


Foundation Legal Director Warns Congress of NLRB’s Big Labor Bias

Testimony highlights Board’s indifference to individual workers’ rights

WASHINGTON, DC?- On February 13, Ray LaJeunesse, Vice President and Legal Director of the National Right to Work Foundation, testified before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce about the need to more vigorously enforce employees’ rights to refrain from funding union politics.

LaJeunesse, who has over 40 years of experience on the Foundation’s legal staff and has argued four cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, repeatedly criticized the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for its lax enforcement of the rights of workers who wish to refrain from union affiliation. Under the Foundation-won Supreme Court precedent Communication Workers v. Beck, private sector employees have the right to refrain from paying for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as members-only events and union political activism. However, the Obama-era NLRB has shown little interest in helping employees assert their rights to opt out of paying for union politics.

NLRB throws up bureaucratic hurdles to employee rights

LaJeunesse pointed out that the Board has permitted union officials to install a number of bureaucratic hurdles that discourage independent-minded employees from asserting their Beck rights. LaJeunesse noted that many unions now require employees to annually renew their objections to union political spending during a designated “window period,” a practice that allows union officials to continue extracting full dues from nonunion employees if they miss an arbitrary filing deadline.

Moreover, the Board has recently held that nonunion employees can be charged for organizing activities and political lobbying for “goals that are germane to collective bargaining.” LaJeunesse noted that this elastic interpretation of the Supreme Court’s Beck standard undermines the ability of nonunion employees to refrain from funding ideological and organizing activities they may disagree with.

“In sum, the problem is systemic,” concluded LaJeunesse. “The Board has dismally failed to protect workers’ Beck rights. Indeed, the current Board seems bent on totally eviscerating those rights.”

Obama Appointees Kowtow to Big Labor

Unfortunately, the Board – a supposedly neutral arbiter of American labor law – has been stacked with pro-Big Labor appointees throughout the Obama Administration. Former NLRB Member Craig Becker actually worked for the SEIU and AFL-CIO before joining the Board and ruling on cases he was involved with as a union lawyer. Current NLRB Member Michael Griffin also worked as a union lawyer before joining the Board.

“As our Legal Director noted in his testimony before Congress, the Board has shown a total disregard for the rights of independent-minded employees,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “We hope this will serve as a wake-up call to citizens concerned about the Board’s pro-forced unionism bias.”

 

26 Apr 2013

FOUNDATION ACTION: Teacher Wins Settlement after Union Violated Her Constitutional Rights

Posted by in Blog

NOTE: This article is from the March-April issue of Foundation Action, our bi-monthly newsletter. You can sign up to receive a print edition of the newsletter here


Teacher Wins Settlement after Union Violated Her Constitutional Rights

Case demonstrates why Wisconsin reforms were need to protect state workers

GREENWOOD, WI – A former Greenwood, Wisconsin, teacher has won a settlement from a local teacher union and the school district for refusing to honor her constitutional rights and for failing to follow federal disclosure requirements.

Spanish teacher Amy Anaya taught in the School District of Greenwood for a year. When Anaya was first hired by the district in August 2011, Greenwood Education Association (GEA) union officials illegally told her that she “had to” sign the union’s membership form.  When GEA union officials demanded Anaya join the union, she told them that she had no desire to become a union member.

Anaya told Foundation Action that her initial reason for not wanting to join the union was its support of causes she opposed. “[The union] also defended teachers that should have been more concerned about improving themselves than moving up the pay scale and getting more benefits,” said Anaya.

Beginning on September 9, 2011, union officials began collecting full union dues, or $31.35, from each of Anaya’s paychecks anyway.  In December 2011, GEA union officials again demanded that Anaya join the union, and she again informed them that she was not interested in joining.

Union officials ignore worker protections

The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized that a public sector worker has a First Amendment right to refrain from formal union membership at any time. Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Foundation’s Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson case that union officials who collect union fees as a condition of employment must first provide nonmember public sector workers with an independently-audited financial breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures and the opportunity to object and challenge the amount of forced union fees before an impartial decisionmaker.

And with passage of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s Act 10 public sector unionism reform in 2011, which contains a provision that gives most Wisconsin civil servants Right to Work protections, no Wisconsin teacher can be forced to pay any union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Union officials failed to provide Anaya with her U.S. Supreme Court-mandated constitutional protections and the school district deducted full union dues from her paychecks for the entire school year.  Moreover, the union brass negotiated a contract with the school district in an attempt to skirt Act 10’s provisions giving Greenwood teachers the Right to Work.

Complaint forces union officials to issue refund

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Anaya filed complaints against the school district and the union with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission in September 2012.  Union lawyers then agreed to a settlement with Anaya under which the union refunded the illegally seized dues to avoid further litigation and possible state prosecution.

“Teacher union bosses and school officials ignored state law and U.S. Supreme Court precedent to illegally coerce Amy Anaya into full dues-paying union ranks against her will,” said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work.  “This case teaches all of us a lesson about just how important Act 10 is in protecting Wisconsin public employees from forced unionism abuses.”

Wisconsin union bosses are still attacking Act 10 in various state and federal courts, but largely to no avail. 

In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit based in Chicago adopted arguments made by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys and upheld Act 10 as constitutional.  Meanwhile, Wisconsin civil servants continue to defend Act 10 in other cases pending before state and federal courts with free legal assistance from Foundation staff attorneys, including a case pending before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

“Union bosses can’t tolerate any restrictions on their power over workers,” stated Mix.  “And your National Right to Work Foundation continues to assist Wisconsin civil servants who are taking a stand against compulsory unionism in their workplaces.”

 

25 Apr 2013

FOUNDATION ACTION: Union Officials Hit with Lawsuit for Violating Utah’s Right to Work Law

Posted by in Blog

NOTE: This article is from the March-April issue of Foundation Action, our bi-monthly newsletter. You can sign up to receive a print edition of the newsletter here.


Union Officials Hit with Lawsuit for Violating Utah’s Right to Work Law

Workers sue company and union for illegally seizing nearly twelve thousand dollars in union dues

SALT?LAKE?CITY, UT – In Utah, four railroad car repairmen have filed a lawsuit contending that their employer and a local union violated their rights under Utah’s popular Right to Work law and illegally coerced them into paying thousands of dollars in union dues.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the four workers – Bryan Rees, James Rogers, Richard Simone, and Jason Wilson – sued Progress Rail, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen/International Association of Machinists (IAM) Local 6601 union in the Third Judicial District Court in Salt Lake County.

Union boss contract violates Utah’s Right to Work law

Utah’s popular Right to Work law, enacted in 1955, gives workers the unconditional right to refrain from union membership and dues payments.  Despite the Right to Work law, IAM Local 6601 union brass negotiated a contract with Progress Rail in May 2006 that contained an illegal forced dues clause that requires all covered employees, including nonmembers, to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. 

All four workers allege in the suit that when they started working at Progress Rail at various dates between December 2005 and August 2011, union officials informed them that union membership and full dues payments were a condition of their employment. 

And as a result, union officials confiscated up to $12,000 in illegal union dues payments from the workers’ paychecks until October 2012, about two months after the workers found out about their rights under Utah’s Right to Work law.

The four workers are asking the court to bar the company and the union from enforcing the illegal forced dues clause in the contract and to order a refund of the illegally-seized union dues.

Case highlights national importance of Right to Work laws

“For years, IAM Local 6601 union bosses kept workers in the dark about their rights and took thousands of dollars of their hard-earned money in violation of Utah’s popular Right to Work law,” Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation, told the Salt Lake Tribune. “The union’s careless disregard for these workers’ rights underscores the need for more states to pass Right to Work protections for their workers.”

Twenty-four states currently have Right to Work protections for employees. According to public polling, nearly 80 percent of Americans – and 80 percent of union members – support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.

Moreover, Right to Work states consistently enjoy better economic performance than their forced unionism neighbors. Over the past decade, data collected by the Bureau of Economic Analysis reveal that Right to Work states   outperform forced unionism states in terms of private sector job creation.

Not only are more jobs created in Right to Work states, but employees’ paychecks also go farther. A recent study from University of Colorado economist Barry Poulson found that households in Right to Work states have nearly $4,300 more in purchasing power than families in forced unionism states. 

“Not only do Right to Work laws boost economic growth and create jobs, they also strike at the very heart of Big Labor’s government-granted power to compel workers to pay dues just to get or keep a job,” said Mix.  “And the lawsuit in Utah goes to show just how important Right to Work protections are for workers who want nothing to do with forced-dues hungry union officials.”

 

23 Apr 2013

FOUNDATION ACTION: Union Bosses Caught Diverting Charitable Donations to Union Coffers

Posted by in Blog

NOTE: This article is from the March-April issue of Foundation Action, our bi-monthly newsletter. You can sign up to receive a print edition of the newsletter here.


BUSTED: Union Bosses Caught Diverting Charitable Donations to Union Coffers

Union scheme may have stiffed several charities, including the NYC Firefighters’ Burn Foundation 

NEW?YORK, NY?- With the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a Long Island teacher has won a favorable ruling against two unions at the New York State Supreme Court. Maureen Stavrakoglou originally filed suit against the two unions for refusing to tell her what they did with union dues that were supposed to have been redirected to charities.

Stavrakoglou is employed by the Brentwood School District, which requires all teachers to pay dues to the Brentwood Teachers Association (BTA) union and its state affiliate, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) union, as a condition of employment. Because New York lacks a Right to Work law, nonunion employees throughout the state can be forced to pay union dues to get or keep a job. However, teachers with sincere religious objections to supporting a union are entitled to request that their union dues be redirected to a mutually agreed upon charity.

After Stavrakoglou made known her objections to the NYSUT union’s ideological activities, the BTA and NYSUT unions entered into an agreement in 2005 that was to have all of her NYSUT dues redirected to charity. Stavrakoglou then asked union officials to redirect her dues for 2007-2008 to the Make a Wish Foundation. The BTA’s president assured Stavrakoglou that the dues would be sent to the charity she designated.

Unscrupulous union officials kept dues earmarked for charity

After coming to an agreement with the unions, Stavrakoglou subsequently designated a new charity each year as the recipient of her union dues. However, two of the charities she chose – The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation – have no record of ever receiving a donation from the union under Stavrakoglou’s name. A third charity, The NYC Firefighters’ Burn Foundation, only received Stavrakoglou’s donation after she called union officials to inquire about the status of her dues. The donation was made over half a year after it was supposed to have been done.

“Maureen Stavrakoglou took union officials at their word, and they repaid that trust by deceiving her about where her union dues were going,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Their outrageous actions prevented Stavrakoglou from contributing her dues to several worthy charities.”?

Teacher wins ruling that safeguards her beliefs

Last August, Stavrakoglou filed a lawsuit seeking an account of how her union dues were spent and the immediate payment of any illegally-confiscated dues to the charities she designated. Although they admitted to failing to donate Stavrakoglou’s dues to several of the designated charities, union lawyers filed a motion to dismiss, promising that the unions would no longer keep any dues earmarked for charitable donations.

Fortunately for Stavrakoglou, the New York Supreme Court ruled that the union must provide evidence that her dues were sent to charitable organizations, and ordered the union to hold Stavrakoglou’s dues in escrow until such proof is established.

“We’re happy to report that Mrs. Stavrakoglou has received a favorable ruling and will finally have her religious beliefs respected,” continued Semmens. “However, teachers shouldn’t have to jump through a series of bureaucratic and legal hoops to stop paying dues to an organization they’d rather not join or support. They also shouldn’t have to trust unaccountable union officials not to mispend a chunk of their hard-earned paychecks. Instead, New York should enact a Right to Work law, which would make union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary and end this type of abuse once and for all.”