10 Jan 2018

Foundation Warns Workers of Union Boss Tricks Ahead of Janus Ruling

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2017 edition. To sign up for a free copy of the newsletter via mail please see the form at the bottom of the page.

Special legal notice to public employees warns against signing away rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With forced dues requirements for over five million public sector employees at stake in the Foundation’s Janus v. AFSCME case now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, union bosses coast-to-coast are already scrambling to limit workers ability to cut off dues payments if the court rules that mandatory union payments violate the First Amendment.

Following the Supreme Court’s announcement in late September that it was taking the Janus case, there were reports that Big Labor was ramping up tactics to block the workers from escaping forced dues. In response, Foundation staff attorneys crafted a special legal notice to public employees, warning them against signing any union authorization cards that might later be cited to limit their right to stop paying dues.

“Unfortunately, there is a long history of union officials refusing to accept limits on their forced- dues powers, and with 5.2 million government workers forced to pay billions each year to union bosses, it is no surprise that union bosses are pulling out all the stops to attempt to block them from using the protections that a Foundation win in the Janus case would bring,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation.

“Although the scale may be unprecedented given the stakes of this Supreme Court case, unfortunately these tactics are nothing new,” Semmens continued. “Invariably, after Foundation-won legal precedents or enactment of new state Right to Work laws, union officials move to block the very workers they claim to represent from exercising their rights.”

Reports: Unions Pressing Workers To Sign Away Their Rights

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s special legal notice warns employees of the tactics teacher union bosses have already begun using:

For instance, according to The Wall Street Journal, Education Minnesota, an affiliate of the National Education Association, is having teachers sign pre-filled “membership renewal” cards which also authorize their employer to deduct union dues or fees from their paychecks.

This language may seem innocuous, but it is craftily designed to lock employees into paying dues even if they wish to cease paying. The Wall Street Journal also notes: “If public sector unions are putting this ‘renewal’ strategy in place in Minnesota, it’s likely that they’re making similar plans elsewhere.”

Although Foundation staff attorneys question the legality of such cards, the special legal notice reminds workers that signing such a card could limit their legal options later. This is compounded by the fact that in many documented instances, union organizers solicit signatures under misleading or false pretenses.

Public sector employees are taking notice of such schemes and are already calling the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to report this behavior by union officials and seek advice in protecting their rights. As always, Foundation staff attorneys are prepared to take legal action for workers who are illegally required to pay forced dues.

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9 Jan 2018

Union Bosses Admit Forced Dues Fuel Big Labor’s Political Clout

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2017 edition. To sign up for a free copy of the newsletter via mail please see the form at the bottom of the page.

Union officials’ public statements about forced dues belie their legal arguments

WASHNGTON, D.C. – Since the Supreme Court’s 1977 Abood decision, union dues for public employees have ostensibly been divided between political and ideological activities that workers could not be forced to subsidize and union activities regarding monopoly bargaining which state workers like Janus v. AFSCME plaintiff Mark Janus could be required to fund.

Beginning with the National Right to Work Foundation’s 2012 Knox v. SEIU Supreme Court case, the High Court has begun to question whether that supposed line sufficiently protects the First Amendment rights of workers like Mr. Janus who do not wish to join or associate with a union, especially because all public sector union activities are directed at the government, making them inherently political. Nevertheless union lawyers continue to argue, and are expected to argue again to the Supreme Court in Janus, that the so-called “agency fees” which nonmembers are required to pay are completely unrelated to union political spending and lobbying.

However, in public statements about the impact of losing the power to compel payment from nonmembers, union officials and their allies repeatedly admit that their forced-dues powers are crucial to Big Labor’s vast political influence.

Only 35% of Workers Would Definitely Pay Dues Voluntarily

One of the starkest admissions about how dependent union bosses are on forced dues came from an internal report commissioned by AFSCME, the union in the Janus case. According to a Bloomberg News report, the union study was commissioned to look at the potential impact of a Supreme Court ruling against forced fees. It concluded that union officials could only count on payments from “roughly 35%” of workers if dues were voluntary.

Of the remaining 65 percent, union officials said a quarter would likely opt out while the rest were “on the fence.” A separate admission by AFSCME official and former Obama Administration appointee Naomi Walker demonstrates the extent to which forced dues fuel partisan union spending on politics.

Writing about Janus for a union-funded publication, Walker predicted that the “progressive infrastructure in this country, from think tanks to advocacy organizations—which depends on the resources and engagement of workers and their unions—will crumble,” if the Supreme Court strikes down mandatory union fees. Meanwhile, the SEIU says it has planned for a 30% budget reduction in preparation for the loss of forced-dues powers over public employees.
Behind closed doors the recipients of Big Labor’s political largess also admit that union political expenditures would be significantly impacted by a ruling striking down forced dues. A leaked copy of remarks by the head of the left-wing Democracy Alliance noted that the groups “dodged a bullet” when Scalia’s death left the High Court split 4-4 with forced dues intact.

Democracy Alliance has directed around $500 million in political spending in recent election cycles. It counts national unions as a significant portion of its roughly 100 membership groups, which include AFSCME, SEIU and the two national teacher unions. In the leaked speech, Democracy Alliance President Gara LaMarche described the groups as “a key anchor of funding for progressive campaigns and causes.” According to a report in the Washington Free Beacon, he warned that Big Labor’s political allies would “need to find new ways to raise money to make up for the disastrous financial shortfall that could follow policies that prevent forced unionization.

According to public disclosure reports filed by union officials, Big Labor political spending during the 2016 election cycle topped $1.7 billion. Of that figure, over $1.3 billion came from union general treasury funds, funded largely by workers who would lose their jobs if they refused to pay union dues or fees.

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8 Jan 2018

Featured Foundation Commentary: This Is Why All Union Dues Should Be Voluntary

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2017 edition. . To sign up for a free copy of the newsletter via mail please see the form at the bottom of the page.

By Mark Mix

It’s been a landmark year in the debate over forced union dues. Kentucky and Missouri became the 27th and 28th states, respectively, to pass Right to Work laws to ensure that financial support of a union is completely voluntary. Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court could announce in a few weeks that it will hear Janus v. AFSCME, a case seeking to strike down mandatory union payments as a violation of First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association.

The basic case for Right to Work is simple: Forcing workers to pay money to a union they don’t support is wrong. This is why polling consistently shows that Americans overwhelmingly support Right to Work, including strong majorities of independent, Republican and Democratic voters.

There are other reasons to support Right to Work, too. Workplace freedom is an economic engine, with private-sector job creation rates in Right to Work states double those in forced-unionism states between 2006 and 2016.

Plus, Right to Work laws make union officials more accountable to rank-and-file members. Without Right to Work, employees must pay up or be fired. With voluntary dues, workers can withhold financial support from a union that is corrupt, ineffective or putting its institutional interests ahead of what is best for workers. Right to Work is a defender of workers’ rights — union members and nonunion alike.

Don’t take my word for it. Among proponents of this view was Samuel Gompers, who founded the American Federation of Labor in 1886 and served as the longest-tenured president of the group that would later become the AFL-CIO. As president of the AFL in 1916, Gompers wrote, “The workers of America adhere to voluntary institutions in preference to compulsory systems which are held to be not only impractical but a menace to their rights, welfare and their liberty.”

Gompers understood that true strength came from voluntary membership, and that by using government-granted powers to force workers to associate with and fund unions — such as laws that prohibit employees from choosing their own workplace representatives — organized labor undermines its legitimacy to speak on behalf of workers.

Today, this is compounded by the fact that fewer than 6 percent of unionized workers currently under monopoly union contracts have even had the opportunity to vote for or against union representation. That’s how entrenched forced unionization is in the American labor force.

In the years since Gompers wrote against “compulsory systems,” Big Labor has completely tossed out any pretense of his “voluntary unionism” that attracts workers by showing them the potential benefits of unionization.

Instead, Big Labor has wholeheartedly embraced “compulsory unionism,” which relies on special legal privileges from government to corral workers into a union with many having no say in the matter at all.

But with Right to Work states growing — six states have passed Right to Work in the past five years — and the potential Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME looming that could give every government employee Right to Work protections, union officials may be forced to confront a future without the power to force workers to pony up.

At a recent Massachusetts AFL-CIO conference named after Gompers, union officials even organized a special panel titled “How to Survive Right To Work.”

Without government-granted power to compel support, union officials would need to listen to their members and prove to them that paying union dues is worth it.

Union officials may find that level of accountability scary, but it’s exactly how Gompers would have wanted it.

This op-ed originally appeared in the September 3, 2017 New York Post.

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4 Jan 2018

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Foundation Case to End Public Sector Forced Dues

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2017 edition. To sign up for a free copy of the newsletter via mail please see the form at the bottom of the page.

First Amendment lawsuit challenging mandatory union payments could free over 5 million public employees

WASHINGTON, DC – On September 28, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear Janus v. AFSCME, which challenges mandatory union fees for public employees as a violation of the First Amendment. Mark Janus is a civil servant child support specialist from Illinois who turned to attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Liberty Justice Center for free legal aid when he felt that his rights were violated by forced union fees.
Janus’ attorneys will argue that forcing employees to pay money to union officials as a condition of government employment violates the First Amendment. If the High Court agrees, the ruling would create a precedent protecting every public employee from being forced to subsidize union activities.

Illinois Worker’s Lawsuit Reaches High Court

The Janus case began in February 2015, when newly-elected Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner issued an executive order prohibiting state agencies from requiring nonmember state employees to pay union fees, based on a 2014 Right to Work Foundation U.S. Supreme Court victory in another Illinois case. Rauner also filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, asking for a declaratory judgment that the forced fee provisions violate the First Amendment and that his executive order was valid.

In March 2015, staff attorneys from the Foundation and the Liberty Justice Center filed a motion for Mark Janus to intervene in the case. Janus’s complaint requested not only a declaratory judgment but also an injunction and damages from the unions for the compelled fees. Ultimately, the court granted Janus’ motion to intervene which allowed the suit to continue to move forward even after the court ruled that Governor Rauner lacked the proper standing to pursue the lawsuit.

After the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 following Justice Scalia’s death in a case which raised the same constitutional issue, Janus became the lead case challenging forced dues as a violation of the First Amendment.

Citing Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which permitted public sector unions to require fees to subsidize monopoly bargaining, both the district court and later the Seventh Circuit Court of appeals ruled against Mr. Janus as expected. That allowed Foundation staff attorneys to file a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case. In September the Supreme Court announced it would hear Janus, making it the 18th Supreme Court case litigated by Foundation attorneys.

Janus follows a series of decisions that suggest a willingness by the Supreme Court to reconsider the constitutionality of forced union fees. In 1977, the High Court held in Abood that, although union officials could not constitutionally spend objectors’ funds for some political and ideological activities, unions could require fees to subsidize monopoly bargaining.

Recent Foundation Supreme Court Victories Set Stage for Landmark Showdown

However, in 2012, the Supreme Court began to question Abood’s underpinnings. In Knox v. SEIU, brought to it by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, the Court held that union officials must obtain affirmative consent from workers before using workers’ forced union fees for special assessments or dues increases.

In the opinion Justice Samuel Alito authored, the door was left open to challenge all forced union fees as a violation of the First Amendment. Alito wrote, “By allowing unions to collect any fees from nonmembers and by permitting unions to use opt-out rather than opt-in schemes when annual dues are billed, our cases have substantially impinged upon the First Amendment rights of nonmembers.”

Two years later, the Foundation assisted a group of Illinois home care providers, including Pam Harris, a mother taking care of her disabled son, in case challenging a state scheme authorizing Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials to require providers like Harris to pay union dues or fees. National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys took the case to the Supreme Court, which held that the forced dues requirement violated the First Amendment.

‘I was never given a choice’

In its Harris ruling, the Court continued to criticize the reasoning of Abood and refused to extend Abood to the “new situation” before it. The decision held Illinois’ provider forced dues scheme unconstitutional and cracked the door even further open for the Court to revisit Abood and the constitutionality of forced union fees, which it is now doing in Janus.

For Mark Janus, the case is about reclaiming his voice and his First Amendment rights stripped away by forced union fees. By standing up for his rights, his case could establish a precedent that would protect over 20 million teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public employees in America.

“The union voice is not my voice. The union’s fight is not my fight,” Janus wrote in an op-ed featured in the Chicago Tribune. “But a piece of my paycheck every week still goes to the union.”
“I went into this line of work because I care about kids. But just because I care about kids doesn’t mean I also want to support a government union,” he continued. “Unfortunately, I have no choice. To keep my job at the state, I have to pay monthly fees to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, a public employee union that claims to ‘represent’ me.”

“The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of association. I don’t want to be associated with a union that claims to represent my interests and me when it really doesn’t.”

Janus stressed that he just wants all Americans to have the opportunity to exercise that freedom of association whether they want to join a union or not.

“I’m definitely not anti-union. Unions have their place and many people like them. … I was never given a choice,” he told the Washington Free Beacon. “I really didn’t see that I was getting any benefit [from the union]. I just don’t think I should be forced to pay a group for an association I don’t agree with—that goes to the First Amendment.”

“Somebody’s got to do something,” Janus said in the interview. “I figure it’ll be a wake-up call to the union that they would have to provide a better benefit [to workers].”

“[The case] has national implications, but I don’t look at that way, I just look it as an average guy standing up for his own rights and free speech. I don’t look at is if I’m anybody special or anybody extraordinary,” the civil servant child worker said.

Foundation Attorney to Argue Forced Dues Showdown

As this issue goes to print a date has not yet been set for oral arguments, although the Supreme Court has notified Janus’ Foundation-provided staff attorneys to expect arguments in January. Because Janus is considered one of the highest-profile cases the High Court has agreed to hear, Supreme Court experts expect a ruling would come at the very end of the 2017-2018 term in June.

Veteran Foundation staff attorney William Messenger will argue the case before the nine Justices, in what will be his third oral argument before the Supreme Court. In 2014, Messenger was lead attorney in the Foundation’s Harris victory, which successfully struck down forced dues for homecare providers as a violation of their First Amendment rights.

As National Right to Work Foundation president Mark Mix told the New York Times when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case: “We are now one step closer to freeing over five million public sector teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other employees from the injustice of being forced to subsidize a union as a condition of working for their own government.”

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11 Aug 2017

Case to End Public Sector Forced Dues Heads to U.S. Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. – By this time next year every government worker in America could be free from forced union dues if a National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation lawsuit for an Illinois state employee is successful.

Mark Janus, a state-employed child support specialist, seeks a ruling that forcing government employees to pay money to union officials to keep their jobs violates the First Amendment.

In June, staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation and Liberty Justice Center filed a writ of certiorari petition with the United States Supreme Court, asking the Court to hear Janus v. AFSCME. If the Court agrees in September to take the case, a ruling would be likely by June 2018.

“Requiring public servants to subsidize union officials’ speech is incompatible with the First Amendment. This petition asks the Supreme Court to take up this case and revisit a nearly half-century-old mistake that led to an anomaly in First Amendment jurisprudence,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix commented.

The Janus v. AFSCME case stems from Obama Labor Board Majority an executive order issued by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner on February 9, 2015. It prohibited state agencies from requiring nonmember state employees to pay union fees, and directed that such the resolution of litigation. On the same day, Rauner filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois asking for a declaratory judgment that the forced fee provisions violate the First Amendment and that his executive order was valid.

In March 2015, staff attorneys from the Foundation and the Liberty Justice Center moved for Mark Janus to intervene in the case. Janus’ complaint requested not only a declaratory judgment but also an injunction and damages from the unions for the compelled fees. The court granted Janus’ motion to intervene which allowed the suit to continue to move forward even after the court ruled that Governor Rauner lacked the standing to pursue the lawsuit.

On July 2, 2015, the Illinois Attorney General asked the district court to stay the case pending the Supreme Court’s decision in a case with similar constitutional issues at stake, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

The Supreme Court ultimately deadlocked 4-4 on Friedrichs, following Justice Scalia’s death, allowing the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education precedent to stand for the time being. In Abood, the Court held that, although union officials could not constitutionally spend objectors’ funds for some political and ideological activities, unions could require fees to subsidize collective bargaining and contract administration with government employers.

Soon after the deadlock in Friedrichs, a district court judge dismissed Janus, allowing the case to be appealed to the Seventh Circuit. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal, citing Abood, thus allowing Janus to be petitioned to the Supreme Court.

Janus follows a series of Foundation-won Supreme Court decisions that demonstrate a willingness by the Supreme Court to reconsider Abood and apply strict scrutiny to the constitutionality of forced union fees.

In Knox v. SEIU, brought by Foundation staff attorneys for California employees, the Supreme Court began to question Abood’s underpinnings. The Court in 2012 held in Knox that union officials must obtain affirmative consent from workers before using workers’ forced union fees for special assessments or dues increases that include union politicking.

The opinion Justice Samuel Alito authored left the door open to challenge all forced union fees as a violation of the First Amendment. Alito wrote that previous Supreme Court rulings allowing forced fees “have substantially impinged upon the First Amendment rights of nonmembers.”

The Foundation also assisted a group of Illinois home care providers in challenging a state scheme authorizing Service Employees International Union officials to require the providers to pay union dues or fees. Foundation attorneys took the case, Harris v. Quinn, to the Supreme Court, which held in 2014 that the forced-dues requirement violated the First Amendment.

In the Court’s opinion in Harris, Justice Alito expanded his criticism of forced union fees writing, “Except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support.”

Janus v. AFSCME is on track for the Supreme Court to decide whether to hear it at its conference before the next term begins in the fall. If four justices agree, the Court could announce soon after its September 25 conference whether it will hear the case.

Foundation staff attorneys also filed another federal lawsuit seeking to end union bosses’ forced-dues powers to demand union fees as a condition of employment. The case, Keller v. Shorba, was filed for two Minnesota state employees. These employees, Carrie Keller and Elizabeth Zeien, are employed by the State of Minnesota Court System. When they started working for the State, neither was a union member, and they both negotiated their own terms and conditions of employment and salaries, free from union interference.

In 2015, union officials started proceedings to force state employees who were not in monopoly bargaining units into union ranks, where they could be required to pay union dues and fees. In March 2017, Minnesota state officials bowed to the Teamsters’ demands and added a number of employees, including Keller and Zeien, to a Teamsters-controlled bargaining unit without the employees’ permission or desire. Keller, Zeien, and the other employees were never given a vote on whether they should be part of the union bargaining unit, and they objected to the new scheme.

Before being forced under the union contract, Keller and Zeien had negotiated pay scales and benefits for themselves that equaled or exceeded what they are forced to accept under the union-mandated
contract. The lower compensation under the union contract and the imposition of mandatory union fees led Keller and Zeien to approach the Foundation for assistance in challenging the forced unionization scheme.

“These two workers were happily working and successfully representing themselves in dealing with their employer until Teamsters officials sought to bolster their forced-dues ranks even though it meant a step back in Keller and Zeien’s working conditions,” said Ray LaJeunesse, Vice President and Legal Director of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This case is a prime example of why it is wrong to force employees to pay money to a union for representation they don’t want, never asked for, and frequently would be better off without.”

Keller and Zeien’s case is one of six ongoing challenges, in addition to Janus, brought by Foundation staff attorneys across the country challenging the constitutionality of forced union fees.

11 Jul 2017

Care Providers Ask High Court to Hear Forced ‘Representation’ Challenge

WASHINGTON, D.C – In early June, staff attorneys for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and Liberty Justice Center petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Hill v. SEIU. The case seeks to strike down a compulsory unionism scheme that grants Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials exclusive monopoly “bargaining” powers with Illinois state government for thousands of Illinois caregivers – including many who never joined the union and oppose the union’s so-called ‘representation.’

In the petition to the Court for six Illinois personal-care and childcare providers, Foundation staff attorneys contend that the state law infringes on the providers’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to associate with a union they do not wish to join or support. Granting the union exclusive power to deal with the State of Illinois over caregiving practices violates the caregivers’ right to choose with whom they associate to petition their own government.

The caregivers’ petition to the Supreme Court in Hill follows the National Right to Work Foundation’s landmark 2014 Supreme Court victory in Harris v. Quinn, which was also filed for several homebased Illinois care providers. That decision prohibited union officials from collecting mandatory dues or fees from home-based caregivers.

The Hill petition argues that, although the Harris case dealt with compelled fees, because the Court ruled that the state’s justification for mandatory fees was insufficient under the First Amendment, the Supreme Court should strike down the compelled association on the same grounds.

The petition asks the Court to take the case so that it can apply the same standard to the First Amendment infringements created when state law forces home care providers to accept a government- appointed monopoly union agent against their will. Foundation staff attorneys have brought similar challenges on behalf of home and childcare providers in Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Washington State.

“It is outrageous that across the country state laws force home and childcare providers to accept unwanted ‘representation’ from a union they have no interest in joining or supporting,” commented Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens. “This is a clear violation of providers’ freedom of association. We are hopeful that this case will build on the Foundation’s landmark 2014 victory in Harris v. Quinn and end these corrupt forced-unionism schemes for good.”

Like the other Foundation case petitioned to the Court on the same day, Janus v. AFSCME, Hill v. SEIU is on track for the Supreme Court to decide whether to hear it at its conference before the next term begins in the fall.

If four justices agree, the Supreme Court could announce soon after its September 25 conference that it will hear the case. The petition also argues that if the Court doesn’t take the Hill case right away, it should at least hold it pending a decision in the Janus case.

22 Apr 2017

Foundation Launches Task Force to Defend New Kentucky Right to Work Law

Foundation staff attorneys prepare to defend and enforce the 27th Right to Work law from union boss attacks

Springfield, VA –The National Right to Work Foundation announced the creation of a special task force designed to defend and enforce Kentucky’s newly-enacted Right to Work law immediately after Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed the bill into law on January 7 to make Kentucky the 27th Right to Work state.

The Foundation is offering free legal aid to Bluegrass State workers seeking to exercise their new rights to refrain from union membership and union dues payments. Foundation staff attorneys are also preparing for lawsuits filed by union officials seeking to overturn or delay the new Right to Work protections for employees.

The law took effect immediately and applies to collective bargaining contracts entered into, extended, or renewed on or after January 7, 2017. Any worker in a contract in effect before January 7, 2017, may still compelled to either pay union dues or fees but employees seeking to exercise their rights should contact the Foundation to explore their legal options.

Unfortunately, union officials often try to stymie independent-minded workers seeking to exercise their rights under Right to Work laws.

“As we’ve seen in recent new Right to Work, union bosses try to make it as hard as possible for workers to exercise their right to refrain from paying any union dues or fees, or resign union membership. Right to Work laws are only words on paper unless they are vigorously enforced, which is why the Foundation has launched this special task force,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.

“Even if Big Labor lawsuits will ultimately fail to overturn the law, union officials hope a ruling by a friendly judge or just the lawsuit itself will create confusion that results in workers not exercising their new legal protections to cut off all payments to the union. That’s the playbook we’ve seen in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and West Virginia, and what we are prepared for in Kentucky.”

Enforcing New Right to Work Laws Key Part of Foundation’s Mission

The Foundation has a long history of assisting employees seeking to exercise their Right to Work protections. Defending and enforcing Right to Work protections has long been one of the most critical tasks undertaken by Foundation staff attorneys.

After the passage of a Right to Work law in Indiana in 2012, union bosses sought to wipe out the law with 2 lawsuits in State Court and one in Federal Court. Foundation staff attorneys submitted amicus curiae briefs in both State Court cases and conferred with lawyers about with legal arguments to make for the state of Indiana for the Federal challenge to Right to Work. All three lawsuits were dismissed and Right to Work was upheld.

In Michigan, which passed a state Right to Work law in 2013, foundation attorneys filed amicus curiae briefs in both a Federal lawsuit and a State lawsuit challenging the public sector portion of the Right to Work law. Both lawsuits were eventually dismissed. Additionally, foundation attorneys have filed over 88 actions for Michigan citizens seeking relating to workers seeking to exercise their Right to Work.

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.

The Foundation also has a legal task force in West Virginia helping to assist in defending the Mountain State’s Right to Work law which went into effect last summer and is subject to a dubious union lawsuit at present.

“Big Labor union bosses are never willing to give up their forced-dues powers without a fight. We expect union bosses to try to tie up the law in the courts, but luckily our staff attorneys have a lot of experience defending Right to Work laws, which have always been upheld,” added Semmens.

Any Kentucky 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.

15 Apr 2017

Worker Wins Federal Election Commission Settlement After Money Diverted to Union Political Fund

Foundation-aided truck driver illegally forced to fund Laborers Political Action

Washington, DC – West Virginia worker Jeffrey Richmond finally has closure on a four-year legal battle in West Virginia that began with being forced to contribute to a union boss Political Action Committee and ended with being fired as retaliation. This past fall, in response to charges filed by Foundation staff attorneys against the company and the associated union, the Federal Election Commission assessed Penn Line Services, Inc. of West Virginia a fine as a civil penalty. The company was found guilty of illegally deducting union dues and PAC contributions from Richmond’s paycheck to send to LIUNA union officials and then retaliated against Richmond for objecting to the scheme.

In July 2012, nearly four years before West Virginia passed a Right to Work law, Penn Line hired Jeffrey Richmond as a driver/laborer. At the time, the company had a monopoly bargaining agreement in force with the Laborers International Union (LIUNA), Local 453. Richmond was not a member of LIUNA and did not authorize any form of payroll deduction.

Several months later, Penn Line presented Richmond with a union membership form. On the provided mandatory union membership form was a section for payroll contributions to the LIUNA Political Action Committee. Under federal law, contributions to political action committees or political funds are completely voluntary and workers may refuse to contribute without fear of reprisal. Richmond agreed to join the union, signing the membership portion of the form, but chose not to authorize payroll deductions to the PAC.

However, Penn Line representatives, without authorization, deducted money from Richmond’s paycheck dating back to the date of his hiring so the money could go to the union PAC fund. Shortly after Richmond signed the membership form without the payroll deduction section, a Penn Line official informed him that the form was being returned to him for his authorization of the union PAC deductions. When Richmond refused, Penn Line immediately fired him, even though federal law clearly states that all PAC contributions must be completely voluntary.

NLRB Charges Filed

Richmond reached out to the Foundation, and with the assistance of Foundation staff attorneys filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The charges were investigated, and in 2013 Penn Line Service, Inc. was forced to settle. Under the terms of that settlement, Richmond was awarded back pay as damages, as well as reimbursements for items like uniforms.
“This scheme is a blatant example of the illegal confiscation of a worker’s money for union boss electioneering,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the Foundation. “Further adding to the outrage, when this worker objected to the theft he was terminated as retaliation for standing up for his rights.”

Union and Company Officials Hit With FEC Complaint

Foundation staff attorneys also assisted in filing charges with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The charges list the four counts where Penn Line and LIUNA brass violated Richmond’s rights. These counts include the numerous times where Penn Line officials refused to inform Richmond of his right to refuse to contribute to a PAC without reprisal, the failure to notify Richmond of the political purposes and nature of the deductions from his paycheck, and the illegal termination of his position despite his religious objection status.

The FEC investigated the charges against Penn Line, Laborers International Union, and LIUNA Local 453, determining that Penn Line had illegally deducted union dues from workers for political purposes without giving the workers an opportunity to object, violating the workers’ rights. The FEC issued a conciliation agreement in October of last year that fined Penn Line the sum of $5,500. Despite the Foundation’s FEC charges specifically denoting the involvement of LIUNA officials, the charges laid against LIUNA International and the LIUNA Local 453 union officials were dropped.

This is not the first time that FEC charges have been filed against a union for funding political action through illegal dues deductions or mishandling of funds. Following a complaint filed by Foundation staff attorneys in 2007 against Americans Coming together, an SEIU “527” group, the FEC levied record fines albeit not large compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars involved in the case.

“Under Foundation-won court precedent, workers have the right to refuse to pay for political and ideological union activities,” continued Semmens. “This sort of dramatic overreach of power by union officials is what laid the groundwork for West Virginia to become the 26th Right to Work state early last year.”

The Foundation created a special task force last year to defend and enforce West Virginia’s newly-passed Right to Work law. Foundation staff attorneys are offering free legal advice and aid to Mountain State workers seeking to exercise their rights as guaranteed by the Right to Work law to refrain from union membership and union dues payment. In addition, Foundation staff attorneys are currently defending the West Virginia Right to Work law in state court against a lawsuit by multiple union officials seeking to overturn the law ending Big Labor’s power to have a worker fired for refusing to pay union dues or fees.

20 Mar 2017

Pro-Right to Work Missouri Workers File Lawsuits Challenging Union Boss-Backed Forced Dues Ballot Measures

Jefferson City, MO– With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys three Missouri workers filed legal challenges against ten separate initiative-petitions that would wipe out Missouri’s recently passed Right to Work law and strip away the newly-won Right to Work protections for them and hundreds of thousands of other Missouri workers.

If approved and passed the ballot measures would prevent the Missouri General Assembly from prohibiting forced-unionism agreements, essentially rendering the Missouri Right to Work law null-and-void.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix commented,“As we have seen in states across the country, union bosses will do anything to preserve their forced dues powers over workers. The fact that these initiative petitions do not even mention Right to Work but would effectively wipe out Right to Work protections in Missouri tell you all you need to know about the union bosses’ true intentions.”

Two of the workers, Michael Briggs and Roger Stickler, are Kansas City police officers and are subject to a monopoly bargaining contract. Briggs and Stickler were nearly forced to pay fees to a union boss for the privilege of working even though they are not members of the union ‘representing’ them until they received free legal aid from the Foundation. The other plaintiff in the case Mary Hill is a nurse employed in the state.

All the plaintiffs would 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.

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 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 nullify.

Political Kickback: Outgoing Secretary of State approved Big Labor-backed measures hours before leaving office

With the political climate suggesting that a Right to Work bill would 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 Kanders desk for his approval before he left office. Secretary Kander unsuccessfully changed Senator Roy Blunt in the 2016 election

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.

Mix added, “It is shameful that union bosses who claim to ‘represent’ workers are trying to kill a much needed and popular law before it is even passed by the legislature through a midnight political favor by a big labor-backed candidate.

The right of Missourians to get or keep a job without being forced to pay tribute to a union boss should not be in jeopardy because of insider political deals like this.”

15 Mar 2017

Pro-Right to Work Missouri Workers File Lawsuits Challenging Union Boss-Backed Forced Dues Ballot Measures

Jefferson City, MO– With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys three Missouri workers filed legal challenges against ten separate initiative-petitions that would wipe out Missouri’s recently passed Right to Work law and strip away the newly-won Right to Work protections for them and hundreds of thousands of other Missouri workers

If approved and passed the ballot measures would prevent the Missouri General Assembly from prohibiting forced-unionism agreements, essentially rendering the Missouri Right to Work law null-and-void.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix commented,“As we have seen in states across the country, union bosses will do anything to preserve their forced dues powers over workers. The fact that these initiative petitions do not even mention Right to Work but would effectively wipe out Right to Work protections in Missouri tell you all you need to know about the union bosses’ true intentions.”

Two of the workers, Michael Briggs and Roger Stickler, are Kansas City police officers and are subject to a monopoly bargaining contract. Briggs and Stickler were nearly forced to pay fees to a union boss for the privilege of working even though they are not members of the union ‘representing’ them until they received free legal aid from the Foundation. The other plaintiff in the case Mary Hill is a nurse employed in the state.

All the plaintiffs would 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.

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 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 nullify.

Political Kickback: Outgoing Secretary of State approved Big Labor-backed measures hours before leaving office

With the political climate suggesting that a Right to Work bill would 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 unsuccessfully changed Senator Roy Blunt in the 2016 election

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.

Mix added, “It is shameful that union bosses who claim to ‘represent’ workers are trying to kill a much needed and popular law before it is even passed by the legislature through a midnight political favor by a big labor-backed candidate.

The right of Missourians to get or keep a job without being forced to pay tribute to a union boss should not be in jeopardy because of insider political deals like this.”