Right to Work 

Supreme Court Argument Preview: What's at Stake in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a potentially landmark lawsuit brought by 10 California public school teachers. The case, which builds on recent Foundation Supreme Court victories in Knox v. SEIU (2012) and Harris v. Quinn (2014), could put an end to forced union dues in the public sector.

Below, we've put together a list of helpful links to explain the issues at stake, as the well as the implications of a favorable Friedrichs decision for civil servants across the country. 

Last September, National Right to Work President Mark Mix published an op-ed in The Washington Times explaining why the High Court should take this opportunity to outlaw mandatory union dues for government employees. Key quote:

Friedrichs gives the court an opportunity to outlaw all mandatory union dues in the public sector. To be clear, such a ruling wouldn’t end government unions. Employees who genuinely support a labor organization would still be free to join up and pay dues. What it would do, however, is limit government unions’ outsized political influence.

Without a guaranteed stream of income from nonunion employees, union officials wouldn’t have nearly as much money to spend on friendly politicians. Moreover, unions that actually have to persuade employees to join and voluntarily contribute tend to be more focused on their members and less fixated on partisan politics.

Outlawing mandatory union dues or fees in the public sector would also limit the ability of union officials to handpick their negotiating partners in state and local government. Politicians who aren’t beholden to union special interests are more likely to strike better bargains for their constituents.

Ideally, no employee — public or private — would ever be forced to pay union dues to get or keep a job. In Friedrichs, the Supreme Court has a chance to restore the workplace rights of America’s civil servants and end the corrupting influence of public-sector forced dues on our political system.

Veteran National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney Bill Messenger also contributed to SCOTUSBlog's Friedrichs symposium, which offers a more in-depth look at the legal issues surrounding the case. Messenger was the lead attorney for the Foundation's Harris Supreme Court victory, which helped lay the groundwork for many of the arguments presented in  Friedrichs. Key quote:

Friedrichs likely represents the terminus of this line of reasoning. By design, the case squarely presents the question wrongly decided in Abood:  whether public school teachers can be forced to support union bargaining with a school district. Harris suggests that the Court will be receptive to the Friedrichs petitioners’ arguments that there is no relevant difference under the First Amendment between bargaining with government and lobbying government, in that both are petitioning government over matters of political and public concern, and that Abood should be overruled on these grounds.

. . . 

Leaving aside the positive impact on public policy of reducing the unique power and financial resources of public-sector unions, the Friedrichs decision will have profound implications for the First Amendment rights of millions of workers. An estimated five million public-sector employees are currently subject to forced-fee requirements and must pay tribute to a union as a condition of their employment. Even under the existing precedents, this is, as the Court has recognized repeatedly, a “significant impingement” on the First Amendment rights of each and every individual worker who would not voluntarily support the union which government forces them to subsidize. Overruling Abood will end the most widespread abuse of First Amendment rights in the nation, while failing to do so will perpetuate it.

For more information on the Friedrichs case, you can also check out the National Right to Work Foundation's brief in support of the plaintiffs and SCOTUSBlog's compendium of every brief submitted in the case. 

Local Sheet Metal Factory Workers File Federal Charges against Machinist Union and Company

News Release

Local Sheet Metal Factory Workers File Federal Charges against Machinist Union and Company

Case underscores need for Wisconsin's new Right to Work law

Allenton, WI (April 22, 2015) – Three Maysteel, LLC sheet metal fabrication factory workers have filed federal charges against a local Machinist union and the company for violating their rights.

With the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Daniel Sarauer of Campbellsport, Dan Zastrow of Mayville, and Daryl Bartsch of Oakfield filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office in Milwaukee.

International Association of Machinists (IAM) Local Lodge 2053 union officials currently enjoy monopoly bargaining control over the Maysteel workers' workplace. Previously, the three workers resigned their union membership and exercised their right upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck case to refrain from paying for union political activities and member-only events. Even though they are not union members, they have still been forced to accept the union hierarchy's so-called representation and pay union fees as a condition of employment.

Click here to read the full release.

National Right to Work Reacts to Obama Labor Board's Latest Scheme to Undermine Right to Work Laws

In response to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) taking a step on April 15, 2015, towards allowing union officials to force nonmember workers in Right to Work states to pay fees for union contract grievance-processing, Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement:

As Right to Work expands across the country, it is unfortunately not surprising that the Obama NLRB is now actively working to undermine the 25 state Right to Work laws. Its "call for briefs" signals this NLRB's intention to reverse 60 years of Board precedent to give union bosses an unprecedented tool to eviscerate employees' Right to Work protections.

The fact is that union officials choose monopoly bargaining control over all workers in a workplace even though they are free to instead negotiate a members-only contract. And union officials continue to do so because they enjoy and often depend on the power derived from that monopoly. The monopoly union contract and any grievance over its enforcement is the direct result of union bosses' decision to impose their so-called "representation" on independent-minded employees who, because of their status as nonmembers, have lost all ability to influence the contents of the union contract that controls the outcome of any grievance.

The real solution would be to strip union officials of their monopoly bargaining powers that let them impose unwanted "representation" on unwilling workers, but as long as union bosses are empowered to force nonmembers under their contacts, Right to Work laws should continue to protect workers from being forced to subsidize that unwanted union boss monopoly representation, including through the union-imposed grievance process.

Fort Leonard Wood Food Service Employees Win Refunds in Federal Settlement over Illegal Union Dues Seizures

News Release

Fort Leonard Wood Food Service Employees Win Refunds in Federal Settlement over Illegal Union Dues Seizures

Company and union officials obstructed workers from exercising rights to refrain from union membership and dues payments

Fort Leonard Wood, MO (April 14, 2015) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, two Fort Leonard Wood food service workers have won a federal settlement from a local union for violating their and several of their coworkers' rights.

In November 2014, Kimsha Rosensteel, an 11-year employee with the Overland Park, Kansas-based food services provider EDP Enterprises, Inc., and coworker Stephanie Fenton filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the National Association of Government Employees (NAGE) Local R14-139 union. Rosensteel later filed a charge against the company.

Click here to read the full release.

Teamster Union Faces Federal Charge for Violating Machinery Manufacturing Company Worker's Rights

News Release

Teamster Union Faces Federal Charge for Violating Machinery Manufacturing Company Worker's Rights

Teamster union officials retaliate against workers who exercise rights under Texas' popular Right to Work law

Longview, TX (April 14, 2015) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a Crosby Group/Lebus Manufacturing Company worker has filed a federal charge against a local Teamsters union for violating her rights.

White Oak resident Sammie Monroe filed the unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Teamsters Local 568 for threatening her for exercising her right to refrain from paying union dues. Under Texas' popular Right to Work law, no worker can be required to join or pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.

Even though Monroe resigned her formal union membership and now refrains from paying dues, she must still accept Teamster Local 568 union officials’ so-called "representation." Because Teamster union officials have claimed monopoly bargaining privilege to speak for and control all workers, including nonmembers like Monroe, they must fairly represent all the workers in the bargaining unit.

Click here to read the full release.

Part-time Fry's Pharmacy Tech Hits Grocery Union Officials with Federal Charge for Violating His Rights

News Release

Part-time Fry's Pharmacy Tech Hits Grocery Union Officials with Federal Charge for Violating His Rights

Union bosses continue to stonewall college student's attempts to exercise rights under Arizona's popular Right to Work law

Phoenix, AZ (April 14, 2015) – A Fry's Food and Drugstore pharmacy technician and Arizona State University (ASU) student has filed a federal charge against the United Food and Commercial Worker (UFCW) Local 99 union for stonewalling his attempts to exercise his rights to refrain from union membership and dues payments under Arizona's popular Right to Work law.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Phoenix resident Travis Prall filed the unfair labor practice charge last Wednesday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Under Arizona's Right to Work law, no worker can be required to join or pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.

Prall, an ASU biology student, began working for Fry's in December 2013.

Click here to read the full release.

Act 10 Lawsuit Judgment Strikes Down Forced Dues Contracts between Kenosha School District and Unions

News Release

Act 10 Lawsuit Judgment Strikes Down Forced Dues Contracts between Kenosha School District and Unions

Bargaining agreements between unions and the school district violated Wisconsin's public-sector labor reform statute

Kenosha, WI (March 27, 2015) – In a lawsuit filed by current and former Kenosha public school teachers, a state court has struck down monopoly bargaining agreements between the Kenosha Unified School District and School Board and three local unions as illegal under Wisconsin's 2011 public-sector unionism reforms commonly referred to as Act 10.

Current Kenosha school teacher Carrie Ann Glembocki and former Kenosha school teacher Kristi LaCroix filed the lawsuit in November 2013, with free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. The lawsuit challenged bargaining agreements between the District and officials from the Kenosha Education Association union, the SEIU Local 168 union, and the AFSCME Local 2383 union. Those agreements required teachers and other District staff to pay union dues or fees to keep their jobs.

Click here to read the full release.

State Employees Move to Defend Rauner's Federal Challenge to Government Union Bosses' Forced Dues Powers

News Release

State Employees Move to Defend Rauner's Federal Challenge to Government Union Bosses' Forced Dues Powers

Legal action argues forced union dues and fees for government employees violates the First Amendment protections of free speech and freedom of association

Washington, DC (March 23, 2015) – Three Illinois state employees have moved to intervene in support of Governor Bruce Rauner's federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of union officials' power to force nonmember state employees to pay union fees as a condition of employment.

The three state employees, Mark Janus, Marie Quigley, and Brian Trygg, filed the motion to intervene in the lawsuit today with legal assistance from staff attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation and the Illinois Policy Institute's Liberty Justice Center.

Governor Rauner issued an executive order in February that instructs all state agencies to put in escrow, pending the outcome of the federal lawsuit filed the same day, all forced union-fee deductions from nonmember state employees' wages required by Illinois' public-sector labor relations statute.

Click here to read the full release.

Worker Advocate Offers Legal Aid to Wisconsin Workers Seeking to Exercise Rights under New Right to Work Law

News Release

Worker Advocate Offers Legal Aid to Wisconsin Workers Seeking to Exercise Rights under New Right to Work Law

Foundation has long history of assisting workers seeking to refrain from union membership and dues payments

Washington, DC (March 10, 2015) – The National Right to Work Foundation is offering free legal aid to Wisconsin private-sector workers seeking to exercise their right under Wisconsin's newly-enacted Right to Work law to refrain from union membership and union dues payments.

On Monday, Governor Scott Walker signed the nation's newest Right to Work law, effective Wednesday, March 11, 2015. Under the law, workers will no longer be required to pay union dues as a condition of employment once the current union monopoly bargaining agreement in their workplace expires.

The National Right to Work Foundation has a long history of assisting employees seeking to exercise their Right to Work rights, most recently under Right to Work provisions enacted in Indiana and Michigan. Foundation attorneys also provided free legal representation to Wisconsin public-sector employees who sought to refrain from paying union dues or fees under Walker's 2011 public-sector union reforms, commonly referred to as "Act 10."

Click here to read the full release.

NRTW Praises Rauner Executive Action, Offers Free Legal Aid to Illinois State Employees

News Release

NRTW Praises Rauner Executive Action, Offers Free Legal Aid to Illinois State Employees

Foundation has long history of assisting public employees seeking to refrain from union membership and dues payments

Washington, DC (February 10, 2015) – The National Right to Work Foundation is offering free legal aid to public employees seeking to exercise their right to refrain from paying union dues or fees that may result from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's newly-issued executive order.

Governor Rauner issued an executive order late Monday that instructs all state agencies to put in escrow, pending the outcome of a federal court lawsuit the Governor filed the same day, all forced union-fee deductions from nonmember state employees' wages required by Illinois' public-sector labor relations statute. The Governor’s lawsuit asks that a judgment be entered declaring unconstitutional the provisions of state collective bargaining agreements that require nonmember state employees to pay union fees, a judgment that would effectively grant those workers Right to Work protections.

The National Right to Work Foundation has a long history of assisting employees seeking to exercise their Right to Work rights, most recently under newly enacted Right to Work provisions in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan. Foundation attorneys also provided free legal representation to Illinois home-based personal care providers who, under executive orders issued by former Governors Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn, were forced to pay union dues or fees against their will. In that case, Harris v. Quinn, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Illinois scheme, ruling that individuals who indirectly receive state subsidies based on their clientele cannot be forced to pay compulsory union fees.

Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement:

"Governor Rauner's actions may give Illinois public employees the Right to Work protections they so desperately need and deserve. These are bold steps to protect Illinois state employees' rights not to pay tribute to union bosses as a condition of working as public servants.

"Unfortunately, union officials won't give up their forced dues power easily. In addition to fighting Governor Rauner in court, it won't be surprising to see them make it difficult for workers to exercise their rights. State employees who try to exercise those rights may encounter stonewalling, intimidation, or harassment at the hands of union officials.

Click here to read the full release.


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