Supreme Court to Hear National Right to Work Foundation Case Challenging Backroom Union Organizing Deal
Right to Work legal challenge could determine if companies are allowed to hand over sensitive employee information to aggressive union organizers
Washington, DC (June 24, 2013) – Today, the United States Supreme Court announced that it is granting a writ of certiorari in Mulhall v. UNITE HERE, a case that could determine if companies are allowed to hand over workers' personal information to union organizers in exchange for union concessions, among other things.
In 2004, UNITE HERE Local 355 and Mardi Gras Gaming entered into an agreement in which union officials promised to spend over one hundred thousand dollars on a gambling ballot initiative and guaranteed not to picket, boycott, or strike against Mardi Gras facilities.
In return, Mardi Gras agreed to give union operatives employees' personal contact information (including home addresses) and grant access to company facilities during a coercive 'card check' organizing campaign, refrain from informing workers about the downsides of unionization, and refrain from requesting a federally-supervised secret ballot election to determine whether employees unionized.
With the help of Foundation staff attorneys, Mardi Gras Gaming employee Martin Mulhall filed a lawsuit challenging this organizing pact in 2008. Under the Labor Management Relations Act, employers are prohibited from handing over "any money or other thing of value" to union organizers, a provision that is supposed to prevent union officials from selling out workers' rights in exchange for corporate concessions. Mulhall argued that the company's concessions were of substantial monetary value because they made UNITE HERE's organizing drive easier and less expensive.
Mulhall won a significant victory last spring, when the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the company's organizing assistance could constitute "a thing of value." UNITE HERE lawyers quickly appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, prompting Foundation attorneys to file a cross-petition asking the Court to review certain aspects of the Eleventh Circuit's ruling.
Foundation attorneys believe that the Eleventh Circuit's decision was too narrowly tailored to prevent companies from aiding union organizers with valuable concessions. The Supreme Court will now revisit whether the company's organizing assistance constitutes "a thing of value."
"We hope the Supreme Court will expand upon the Eleventh Circuit's landmark ruling and ensure that union organizers can't cut backroom deals with management," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Companies shouldn't be allowed to turn over employees' personal information to unscrupulous Big Labor organizers as a negotiating tactic."