Union sought quid pro quo from company to unionize its employees
Boca Raton, Florida (November 6, 2008) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, an employee at a Mardi Gras Gaming facility has filed a federal lawsuit to prevent UNITE HERE Local 355 union officials from obtaining illegal assistance in pressuring workers to unionize – including possession of workers’ personal addresses and other private information.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleges that union officials violated the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) by entering into an agreement with Mardi Gras Gaming that allows the union access to information about nonunion employees, use of the employer’s property for organizing, and control over the employer’s communications with workers. The LMRA expressly forbids employers from giving “any money or other thing of value” to unions.
The LMRA’s prohibition on transfers of things of value from employers to unions is intended to prevent deals that induce union officials to place their own interests or the interests of employers above the workers themselves.
The Mardi Gras Gaming facility is not yet unionized, but in August of 2004, management entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with Local 355. In return for a union guarantee not to picket, boycott, or strike against the facility, Mardi Gras Gaming agreed to hand over employees’ personal contact information – including home addresses – to union organizers, grant union officials access to Mardi Gras facilities for the purpose of organizing, and to refrain from requesting a federally-supervised secret ballot election to determine whether its employees actually want to unionize. This quid pro quo arrangement is of substantial monetary value to Local 355, as it would dramatically reduce the cost of successfully unionizing workers at the Mardi Gras facility.
Such so-called “neutrality agreements” between companies and unions give union organizers license to browbeat and intimidate workers into acceding to unionization. Armed with employees’ home addresses and access to company facilities, union officials frequently harass workers on and off the job until they agree to sign cards that are then counted as “votes” for unionization. In other Foundation-assisted cases, employees have testified to and documented the pressure, bribery, and outright fraud union organizers use to obtain signed authorization cards.
“UNITE HERE bosses made a secret deal to force Mardi Gras workers into the union whether they like it or not,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “We intend to shut down this major violation of federal law and employee freedom.”