Obama Labor Board Issues Ruling to Keep Workers in the Dark after Sitting on Case for Over Six Years
Obama NLRB once again ignores federal court precedent to benefit union bosses
Washington, DC (September 24, 2014) – After sitting on a case for more than six years, President Obama's National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) faces federal court scrutiny once again after it issued a ruling that denies long-held federal protections for workers and allows union bosses to keep workers in the dark about their rights.
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a former Crawfordsville, Indiana Kroger worker on September 22 asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review the NLRB's decision in her case.
In December 2004, Kroger hired Laura Sands. The next month, United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union Local 700 officials sent Sands a membership application that failed to inform her of the percentage free reduction she would receive if she did not join the union and objected to paying for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining.
In the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that workers have the right to refrain from paying for union political and members-only activities. Under federal labor case law, union officials must also provide workers with an independently-audited financial breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures before they exercise their rights to refrain from union membership. This procedural safeguard helps inform workers of how their forced union dues are being spent and enables them to decide intelligently whether to refrain from membership and object to paying full dues.
After Sands challenged the UFCW Local 700 union officials' policy of keeping workers in the dark about their rights, her case was appealed in 2008 to the NLRB in Washington, DC. The NLRB then failed to issue a ruling in the case for more than six years.
Sands filed a petition at the DC Court of Appeals asking the court to force the NLRB to act. The court ordered the NLRB to file a brief and even scheduled oral argument on the petition. However, before the argument could be held, the NLRB issued a ruling rubberstamping the UFCW's illegal policy.
The Board's ruling flies in the face of longstanding precedent set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The Board's ruling also comes on the heels of a federal court ruling in Pittsburgh in which the judge stated in his decision that the agency's conduct in that case "arguably moves the NLRB from its investigatory function and enforcer of labor law, to serving as the litigation arm of the Union, and a co-participant in the ongoing organization effort of the Union."
"Once again the Obama Labor Board has trampled on workers' rights to bolster union bosses' forced dues powers," said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "The Obama NLRB is flaunting long-held court precedent to further expand its legacy as a taxpayer-funded arm for union compulsion."