Employee Rights Group Wins Security Guard’s Reinstatement After Year-Long Suspension for Refusal to Pay Union Dues
El Paso, TX (June 28, 2007) – After a year-long ordeal, El Paso security guard Juan Vielma received an offer of full reinstatement to his job yesterday after he was illegally suspended in 2006 without pay – in violation of Texas’ Right to Work law. But a national employee rights organization pressed the state’s top prosecutor to aggressively pursue numerous other violations of the Texas Right to Work law still occurring.
Immediately after Vielma contacted National Right to Work Foundation attorneys for help, they filed unfair labor practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board in early November 2006 against the Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) union. Union officials and AKAL Security suspended Vielma indefinitely without pay over a year ago in retaliation for asserting his protected right not to pay union dues.
AKAL Security and union officials had claimed, with no basis whatsoever, that Vielma and his coworkers work on an “exclusive federal enclave” not protected by Texas’ Right to Work law prohibiting forced union dues.
The reinstatement offer comes after a federal Administrative Law Judge agreed with arguments presented by Foundation attorneys and ruled unequivocally earlier this month that the Texas Right to Work law applies to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility where Vielma worked. The judge also ordered the payment of full back pay and benefits. Testimony at trial in March revealed that AKAL and union bosses had no basis for claims that the Right to Work law did not apply to the El Paso ICE facility. The trial also revealed the existence of an illegal union scheme to violate the law across Texas and in other Right to Work states.
Foundation president Mark Mix today reiterated his earlier request of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to investigate and aggressively prosecute widespread violations of the Right to Work law. Foundation attorneys first brought these violations to the attention of the Attorney General’s office on November 21, 2006.
“Although we are pleased that Mr. Vielma will finally be allowed to return to work, there is much more work to be done. Not only should the Attorney General prosecute existing violations and obtain monetary penalties available under the law, but he should also take aggressive action that puts all Texas union bosses on notice that violations of the Texas Right to Work law will no longer be tolerated,” said Mix.
Foundation attorneys have uncovered evidence that SPFPA union officials have been engaging in a willfully fraudulent scheme to force potentially thousands of employees to pay union dues in violation of the state’s Right to Work law.
The Texas Attorney General has been asked to prosecute these criminal violations of the Right to Work law as well as enforce the state’s fraud and other applicable criminal statutes.
In addition to Vielma’s case, Foundation attorneys are helping Carlos Banuelos, a Corpus Christi security guard who filed federal charges against the same union. SPFPA union officials unlawfully threatened to have Banuelos and other employees fired for refusing to pay union dues.