11 Jul 2017

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

Posted by in Newsletter Articles

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

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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

Posted by in Newsletter Articles

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

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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

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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.”

13 Mar 2017

Foundation-Backed Worker Joins Battle to Defend West Virginia Right to Work Law

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Check out this article from the January/February 2017 newsletter. To read the full newsletter and to sign up for your free copy, please click here.

Greenbrier employee files Motion to Intervene to oppose forced unionism

Since its establishment in 1968, one of the most critical missions of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has been defending state Right to Work laws from the never ending Big Labor legal attacks. Inevitably, soon after a new Right to Work law is passed union officials sue with the intent of overturning, or at least delaying the worker freedom protections offered by Right to Work.

West Virginia, which passed the nation’s 26th Right to Work law in early 2016, is no exception. Even before the law took full effect, union lawyers for the AFL-CIO and a coalition of other unions initiated a challenge to the law in state court.

In early December, Foundation staff attorneys moved to intervene in the case on behalf of Reginald Gibbs, asking the circuit court that Gibbs be made a party to the case so he can defend his rights under the Right to Work law. In his motion, Gibbs adopts the arguments made in two amicus briefs filed by the National Right to Work Foundation, arguing why the court should reject Big Labor’s attempt to overturn or delay the law.

Reginald Gibbs is a slot machine technician at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. As an employee of the Greenbrier, Gibbs is currently under a monopoly bargaining contract with a union forced dues clause, requiring him to pay dues or fees to the union or be fired.

The motion to intervene argues that if the law is overturned or blocked by a judicial order, Gibbs would continue to be forced to continue to pay dues and fees, despite his objections. Although the State of West Virginia is already defending the law in the case, the motion notes that Gibbs has special interests in defending his Right to Work as an employee affected by the law, which is distinct from the interests of the state whose duty is to defend the constitutionality of the law.

“Like clockwork, instead of accepting the decades of precedent upholding Right to Work protections, union officials are once again spending forced dues to attack worker freedom of choice in court,” said Ray LaJeunesse, Vice President and Legal Director for the Foundation. “We’re proud to offer assistance to Mr. Gibbs in defending the legal protections he stands to gain from West Virginia’s popular new Right to Work law.”

Gibbs further argues in his motion that as a worker currently employed under a compulsory unionism agreement, he will suffer direct harm if the law is overturned. The court will be considering the motion with the next hearing scheduled for early 2017.

West Virginia is not the only state where Foundation staff attorneys have responded to union boss legal attacks on Right to Work. Foundation staff attorneys have also filed briefs in similar cases in Federal Court in Idaho and Wisconsin, as well as in a Wisconsin State Court.

With the possibility of new Right to Work laws in Kentucky, Missouri and New Hampshire in 2017, the Foundation stands ready in 2017 to defend worker freedom in those states from the inevitable attacks by Big Labor operatives.

6 Mar 2017

Foundation Expands Outreach to Charter School Teachers

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Check out this article from the January/February 2017 newsletter. To read the full newsletter and to sign up for your free copy, please click here.

Charter school employees increasingly are targets for forced unionization

Springfield, VA– The National Right to Work Foundation is stepping up its efforts to inform charter school teachers and other employees of the legal rights they have to refrain from compulsory unionism. As part of the effort, Foundation staff attorneys attended charter school conferences in Ohio and Louisiana in December.

Sending Foundation attorneys to these charter school conferences is part of a growing initiative of the Foundation’s legal information program to ensure charter school employees are fully aware of their rights and are able to make an informed decision in regards to unionization. In 2016 Foundation staff attorneys attended half a dozen conferences across the country to promote the Foundation’s legal aid program for charter school employees.

Union bosses have historically been steadfastly opposed to the existence of charter schools because they see them as a threat to their monopoly over students and teachers. However, as charter schools continue to expand across the country and grow in popularity, teacher union organizers have been increasingly targeting charter school employees as new sources of forced dues to fill their depleting coffers.

Foundation Aids Charter Teachers in Removing Unwanted Union

Foundation staff attorneys recently assisted charter school employees in New York State in arranging a decertification election to decertify a union the employees did not want. Even after a majority voted to decertify the union, union bosses appealed to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in a desperate attempt to keep the employees in their forced dues grasp. Foundation staff attorneys stood by the employees every step of the way and successfully convinced the NLRB to deny the appeal.

“Teachers and students alike are flocking to charter schools in part because they are largely free of the teacher union monopoly that puts union boss power ahead of what is best for teachers, students and their communities,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix commented. “Sending Foundation staff attorneys to these conferences in addition to assisting individual employees is a crucial part of our charter school initiative to ensure charter school employees are able to make informed decisions about union representation in an atmosphere free from union boss threats, harassment, coercion, or misrepresentation.”

3 Mar 2017

Postal Union Bosses Forced to Return $1.1 Million Stolen from Rank-and-File

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Check out this article from the January/February 2017 newsletter. To read the full newsletter and to sign up for your free copy, please click here.

Union officials outrageously claimed legal right to take additional $7.5 million

Washington, D.C. – In the culmination of a two year long fight, US Postal Service workers receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation have won their battle with the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), forcing the union officials to disgorge over one million dollars taken by the union from money intended for the workers.

Workers File Federal Charges to Challenge Union Boss Money Grab

In December 2014, over seven thousand USPS workers were awarded a lump payment of back wages as part of an arbitration award. To the workers this was a windfall victory, but to the officials at the APWU, this was an opportunity to pad union coffers. Steven Raymer, an APWU national director involved with the arbitration, colluded with the Postal service to divert over one million dollars from the total award of 8.64 million dollars into the coffers of the APWU.

In April 2016, two postal workers, Louis Mazurek and Scott Fontaine became aware of the award and filed separate NLRB charges against the APWU in NLRB Region 5.

In an affidavit filed with the NLRB during the proceedings, union official Raymer went to some length to attempt to justify his decision to divert that sum from the money intended for the very workers he claimed to “represent.”

Raymer even admitted that he had considered taking more of the funds away from the workers. “I had thought briefly about keeping the entire amount…I think I would have been justified in keeping it all…” His testimony showed that his concern was not for the workers the APWU claimed to represent, and that had he thought he could get away with it, he would have diverted more money away from the workers.

“This battle just emphasizes the disconnect between the workers, and union brass,” said Mark Mix, President of the Foundation. “Sadly, the only reason that these workers saw any money at all was fear of getting caught, not genuine concern and care for the workers.”

As the case proceeded Fontaine and Mazurek approached the Foundation because they were concerned with what would happen to their case in the NLRB. Foundation staff attorneys assisted them in the hearings that were scheduled between the NLRB and union lawyers. A full hearing before an administrative law judge was scheduled for early November.

APWU Officials Forced to Disgorge $1.1 Million in NLRB Settlement

Less than 24 hours before the hearing, the NLRB came to the rescue of the union officials and issued a settlement in the case sparing union officials’ another round of embarrassing testimony about their sellout of the rank-and-file.

Under the terms of the settlement, the APWU must disgorge the full 1.1 million dollars that it stole from the workers. 70% is ordered to be paid out immediately to workers with each of the approximately 7,200 employees eligible to receive a pro rata share of $770,804.58.

The remaining 30% of the stolen money, $330,326.70, will be placed in a separate escrow account under the direct supervision of the NLRB Regional director for the next three years. Any funds remaining at the end of this three year period will be divided evenly among the workers who received payments as part of the settlement.

“This is an unprecedented victory for union employees. Never before has a union been caught so dramatically taking this large a sum, and then being forced to return the money to its rightful owners,” said Mix. “The workers are fortunate that they were able to take advantage of the free legal aid offered by the Foundation, else they might not have seen any of this money ever again.”

27 Feb 2017

Homecare Providers Coast to Coast Challenge Force Unionism Schemes

Check out this article from the January/February 2017 newsletter. To read the full newsletter and to sign up for your free copy, please click here.

Numerous Foundation cases seek to enforce and build on landmark Harris Supreme Court victory

Washington, DC – In 2014, Foundation staff attorneys argued the case Harris v. Quinn before the US Supreme Court, which chose to strike down the SEIU’s illegal forced dues scheme in Illinois. The opinion of the court stated that individuals who receive state subsidies based on their clientele cannot be forced to pay compulsory union fees.

While the Supreme Court’s decision was clear, unsurprisingly union officials have not willing complied with the precedent. This has impacted the rights of homecare and childcare providers in dozens of states. In order to force unions to comply with the law, a number of cases are being litigated by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys on behalf of providers across the nation, including in Oregon, Washington, New York and Illinois.

Pacific Northwest Providers Challenge Union Schemes

Coordinating with the Freedom Foundation, Foundation staff attorneys recently filed suit in the federal courts of Oregon and Washington for homecare providers who are being forced to pay dues to the SEIU in defiance of the Harris decision.

In these cases, the respective SEIU local officials have refused to honor resignations from the union and have continued illegally deducting full union dues and fees from nonmember workers. The workers have named the union officials as defendants, as well as the states of Oregon and Washington due to government’s seizure of money on the union’s behalf from homecare providers, many of whom are family members voluntarily taking care of sick or disabled relations.

Among other rights violations, union bosses have deliberately obfuscated the resignation process in an effort to coerce more dues money out of homecare workers. Workers seeking to leave the union are being told that they can only resign during an arbitrary two week period that union officials seek to keep from the workers as a means of trapping them into paying dues for another year.

In both cases, the providers and their Foundation staff attorneys seek to reaffirm that providers have the right to cut off dues payment to the union at any time.

New York Childcare Ask Supreme Court to Review ‘Forced Representation’

After the Harris ruling struck down the Illinois scheme, Foundation attorneys have been applying that precedent to many similar cases. One of these cases is working its way through the courts on the opposite side of the country in New York. In 2007, disgraced former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer signed an executive order that named the Civil Service Employees Association Union as the monopoly bargaining power for thousands of childcare providers outside New York City.

Mary Jarvis, a NY home-based childcare provider, with the assistance of Foundation attorneys is challenging this illegal scheme in NY courts. Jarvis and her fellow plaintiffs are currently seeking a writ of certiorari, petition filed in early December 2016, to bring Jarvis v. CSEA before the US Supreme Court, arguing that forced unionism violates their first amendment rights of association.

Also in December, Foundation attorneys argued a similar case (Hill v. SEIU) before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Illinois. The lower court ruled that the state had the right to assign a monopoly bargaining representative to this class of worker, without any input or vote by these providers. Foundation staff attorneys argue that this arbitrary assignment of a “bargaining representative” to handle interactions between the government and the workers is unconstitutional. Under the First Amendment, citizens have the right to petition the government directly for the redress of grievances, and Foundation staff attorneys argue those protections are violated when the government imposes an unwanted representative to speak to the government on their behalf.

“Citizens have the power to select their political representation in government, not the other way around,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “These schemes, which forced home-based childcare providers, even grandmothers taking care of their grandchildren, into paying forced dues to union bosses are a slap in the face of the fundamental American principles we hold dear.”

8 Feb 2017

Postal Union Bosses Forced to Return $1.1 Million Stolen from Rank-and-File

Posted by in Blog, Newsletter Articles

Union officials outrageously claimed legal right to take additional $7.5 million


This story was published in the January/February issue of Foundation Action. To read this issue or other previous issues please click here. To sign up for your free copy of the newsletter via mail please see the form at the bottom of the page.

Washington, D.C. – In the culmination of a two year long fight, US Postal Service workers receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation have won their battle with the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), forcing the union officials to disgorge over one million dollars taken by the union from money intended for the workers.

In December 2014, over seven thousand USPS workers were awarded a lump payment of back wages as part of an arbitration award. To the workers this was a windfall victory, but to the officials at the APWU, this was an opportunity to pad union coffers. Steven Raymer, an APWU national director involved with the arbitration, colluded with the Postal service to divert over one million dollars from the total award of 8.64 million dollars into the coffers of the APWU.

In April 2016, two postal workers, Louis Mazurek and Scott Fontaine became aware of the award and filed separate NLRB charges against the APWU in NLRB Region 5.

In an affidavit filed with the NLRB during the proceedings, union official Raymer went to some length to attempt to justify his decision to divert that sum from the money intended for the very workers he claimed to “represent.”

Raymer even admitted that he had considered taking more of the funds away from the workers. “I had thought briefly about keeping the entire amount…I think I would have been justified in keeping it all…” His testimony showed that his concern was not for the workers the APWU claimed to represent, and that had he thought he could get away with it, he would have diverted more money away from the workers.

“This battle just emphasizes the disconnect between the workers, and union brass,” said Mark Mix, President of the Foundation. “Sadly, the only reason that these workers saw any money at all was fear of getting caught, not genuine concern and care for the workers.”

As the case proceeded Fontaine and Mazurek approached the Foundation because they were concerned with what would happen to their case in the NLRB. Foundation staff attorneys assisted them in the hearings that were scheduled between the NLRB and union lawyers. A full hearing before an administrative law judge was scheduled for early November.

Less than 24 hours before the hearing, the NLRB came to the rescue of the union officials and issued a settlement in the case sparing union officials’ another round of embarrassing testimony about their sellout of the rank-and-file.

Under the terms of the settlement, the APWU must disgorge the full 1.1 million dollars that it stole from the workers. 70% is ordered to be paid out immediately to workers with each of the approximately 7,200 employees eligible to receive a pro rata share of $770,804.58.

The remaining 30% of the stolen money, $330,326.70, will be placed in a separate escrow account under the direct supervision of the NLRB Regional director for the next three years. Any funds remaining at the end of this three year period will be divided evenly among the workers who received payments as part of the settlement.

“This is an unprecedented victory for union employees. Never before has a union been caught so dramatically taking this large a sum, and then being forced to return the money to its rightful owners,” said Mix. “The workers are fortunate that they were able to take advantage of the free legal aid offered by the Foundation, else they might not have seen any of this money ever again.”

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