Foundation Defends Ohio Religious Objectors

Here's our latest press release on the Foundation's efforts to defend the rights of religious objectors to refrain from supporting union activities that offend their deeply-held beliefs:

Cincinnati, Ohio (September 24, 2008) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys recently obtained settlements with the National Education Association (NEA) union for two teachers whose consciences would not allow them to pay mandatory dues to support a union involved in activities they consider immoral. Geralyn Buening and Tessy Huwer, both practicing Catholics, objected to the NEA’s positions on abortion and special rights for homosexuals.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination against religious employees and requires companies and unions to attempt to reasonably accommodate employees’ sincerely-held religious beliefs. The obligation to accommodate includes the payment of compulsory union fees, as no employee should be forced to fund a union that engages in activities that offend their religious convictions.

The Ohio teachers originally filed charges against the NEA teacher union with the Ohio Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging that the union was in violation of their rights as religious objectors. In return for withdrawing the charges, the settlement allows the teachers to redirect their mandatory agency fees to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, rather than pay any funds whatsoever to a union hierarchy steeped in objectionable social activism.

Read the rest of the press release here. For more on the Foundation's efforts to ensure unwilling Ohio teachers aren't forced to fund morally objectionable causes, check out here and here.

Foundation Attorneys Win Another NLRB Case: Union Bosses Retaliated Against Nonmember By Yanking Seniority

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled in favor of a nonunion worker represented by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, finding that Interstate Bakeries Corp. and local Teamsters union officials violated the law when they stripped a nonmember worker of his seniority during a merger.

In November of 2005, company and union officials agreed to consolidate two corporate divisions. One division was staffed by a single nonunion sales representative who had put in more time with the company than any of his counterparts at the other division. Company officials tried to ensure that he retained his seniority during the merger, but Teamsters officials stood fast, insisting on discriminating against him because of his nonunion status.

In the sales business, seniority has serious implications for workers. The longer you've been with the company, the better your chances are of securing more desirable sales routes and vacation time. In this case, union officials wanted to unilaterally strip a nonunion sales representative of his earned seniority, placing him at the bottom of the totem pole. It was effectively retaliation for his nonunion status.

Fortunately, the NLRB agreed with Foundation attorneys and found that union officials broke the law when they discriminated against the nonunion sales representative by favoring unionized employees during the merger. Here's the crux of the decision (emphasis mine):

The only difference between Rammage [the nonunion worker] and those Dolly Madison employees who were dovetailed [given favorable seniority status during the merger] was the fact that Rammage had not previously been represented by the Union. The Union admits that it treated Rammage differently and unfavorably because he was not previously represented. In addition, the comments of Respondent Employer's managers Roberts and Simmons to Rammage, that he lost his seniority because "he was not in the Union," demonstrate that he was singled out becasue he had not previously been represented by a labor organization.

 

News Release

Federal Government to Prosecute UNITE HERE! Local for Illegal Union Dues Seizures

Hotel union officials violated federal labor law by failing to disclose union expenditures and forcing nonunion workers to pay for activities unrelated to collective bargaining

Honolulu, Hawaii (October 6, 2008) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has decided to prosecute the UNITE HERE! Local 5 union in response to charges filed by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys for two hotel industry workers.

Brenda Lee Orr, a nonunion employee of Turtle Bay Resort, alleges that union officials compelled her to pay dues for national organizing activities and a strike expense fund as a condition of employment. Grant Suzuki, a nonunion employee of Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa, also alleges that UNITE HERE! Local 5 forced him to pay dues for national organizing and that union officials refused to provide him with a financial breakdown of union expenditures mandated by federal law. Government prosecutors determined that the union’s conduct violated employees’ rights, and will try the case before an administrative law judge.

Union officials can force nonmember employees to fund certain activities, but the Foundation-won Supreme Court precedent Communication Workers v. Beck holds that union officials may not charge nonunion workers for activities unrelated to collective bargaining. The Foundation-won Supreme Court decision Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson also requires union officials to provide nonmember employees with an audited financial breakdown of union expenditures.

Although both employees refused formal union membership, UNITE HERE! bosses compelled Orr and Suzuki to fund organizing activities far removed from their places of employment. Union officials also forced Orr to pay into a general strike fund intended to support strikes across the country.

When Suzuki requested a financial breakdown of union expenditures to determine what mandatory fees he owed, union officials violated federal labor law by refusing to comply.

“Workers shouldn’t have to navigate a complex web of union rules and federal regulations to opt out of funding union activities,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The ultimate solution is for Hawaii to adopt a Right to Work law ensuring union membership and dues payment are completely voluntary.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.

New Right to Work Video Report: "In The Dark"

Check out the Foundation's latest Right to Work Video Report on compulsory unionism in the workplace. John McHenry, a Philadelphia worker and union member his entire life, never knew he could resign his formal union membership and stop paying full union dues. But when union bosses rammed a corrupt pension plan down his throat, he turned to the National Right to Work Foundation for help:


For more Right to Work video updates, remember to check back regularly at the Foundation's YouTube channel or Eyeblast.tv channel.

Pennsylvania Teacher Union Bosses Fight to Protect their Stranglehold on Keystone State Schools, Teachers

Via the Education Intelligence Agency, we learn that (surprise!) Pennsylvania teacher unions oppose attempts to improve public education through the enactment of reforms that could threaten the teacher union monopoly and forced-dues gravy train (emphasis mine):

What do [reformers] think stands in the way...? For Simon Campbell, president of the Yardley-based StopTeacherStrikes.org, the answer is simple: teachers unions.

Mr. Campbell is a resident of the Pennsbury School District in Bucks County that faced a teacher strike in Oct. 2005. For 21 days, 11,500 students were kept out of school, including two of his kids.


"I am really just a parent who got kind of fed up one day," he said.
Since the strike he has advocated energetically for abolition of teachers' right to strike. Currently, 37 states do not allow their teachers to strike.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), a division of the National Education Association which is the nation's largest teachers union, takes in about $80 million a year in dues and boasts about 185,000 members statewide, Mr. Campbell said.

"The real business that they're in is collecting union dues," he said. "They are organized like a machine at the grassroots level."

And what do the NEA bosses spend all that money its dues-collecting machine rakes in on?

Bombarding teachers' families with political propaganda is apparently a high priority. Too bad six year olds don't vote . . .

News Release

Teamsters Local Hit with Unfair Labor Practice Charges for Illegal Forced Dues Demands

Union Officials Reneged on Settlement Agreement, Forced Nonunion Employees to Object Annually to Paying Union Dues

Salisbury, Maryland (October 16, 2008) – National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have filed unfair labor practice charges against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters/Graphic Communications Conference District Council 9 union for compelling nonmember employees to annually object to the payment of union dues unrelated to collective bargaining.

Four days after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the union agreed to a settlement that eliminated the Teamsters’ annual objector policy, Teamsters officials issued a letter to nonunion Standard Register employees in Salisbury, Maryland indicating they would still have to annually opt-out of and object to paying certain union fees each year.

District Council 9/Graphic Communications Conference union officials are the monopoly bargaining agents for companies across the Mid-Atlantic region. The Foundation’s unfair labor practice charges were filed on behalf of ten workers in Maryland and seven in Pennsylvania, many of whom fear that the union will reverse or ignore its earlier promise to end the annual objection policy.

Nonunion employees can be forced to pay union dues for workplace representation as a condition of employment, but under the Foundation-won Supreme Court precedent Communication Workers v. Beck they cannot be legally required to pay for union activities unrelated to collective bargaining. As a result of previous Foundation unfair labor practice charges, the NLRB’s settlement eliminated a requirement forcing nonmember employees to annually renew their objections to excessive union dues. Despite this settlement agreement, Salisbury-area union officials maintained an annual objection policy designed to make it difficult for employees to exercise their Beck rights.

Although the NLRB issued its decision as a result of an unfair labor practice charge in Philadelphia, the settlement applied to the entire local. In that settlement, union officials agreed to remove their annual objector policy, as well as refund several nonmember employees for payments unrelated to collective bargaining.

“This is a scoff law union that has developed a disturbing reputation for pushing nonunion workers around,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The incident demonstrates the fundamental injustice of forced unionism. If union bosses were stripped of their special powers to force employees into unions and their forced dues ranks, this type of abuse couldn’t happen.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.

USA Today Comes Out Against Card Check Instant Organizing

Today USA Today, the largest circulation newspaper in the country, editorializes against efforts to impose the coercive Card Check Instant Organizing on every worker in America:

Under the current system, once 30% of a company's workers sign union authorization cards, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administers a confidential vote, typically 39 days after it receives the cards. The union and employer campaign for votes.

Under a major rewrite of U.S. labor law being promoted by unions, when more than 50% of employees sign authorization cards, the NLRB would have to recognize the new union. No campaign. No secret ballot.

This misguided measure passed the House shortly after Democrats took the majority in 2007. But it needs several more votes in the Senate and a president who will sign it. Barack Obama supports it; John McCain does not. It's no surprise, then, that the AFL-CIO plans to spend an eye-popping $200 million this election cycle to support Obama and Democratic candidates for Congress. A win for Obama and big gains for Senate Democrats could remove the remaining obstacles to the euphemistically named "Employee Free Choice Act."

Cajoled choice is more like it. The proposed change would give unions and pro-union employees more incentive to use peer pressure, or worse, to persuade reluctant workers to sign their cards. And without elections, workers who weren't contacted by union organizers would have no say in the final outcome.

Labor leaders [sic], such as AFL-CIO President John Sweeney in the space below, argue that the proposed law wouldn't prohibit private balloting. This is accurate but misleading. Union organizers would have no reason to seek an election if they had union cards signed by more than 50% of workers. And if they had less than a majority, they'd be unlikely to call for a vote they'd probably lose.

Read the whole thing here. USA Today's editorial board joins a growing chorus of voices from across the political spectrum recognizing the horrible abuses involved in "card check" organizing.  Here, for example, is former United States Senator and leftist George McGovern writing about the dangers of Card Check Instant Organizing.

Foundation Win Nets $250,000 Refund from Union for Nonunion Workers

Federal labor board charges filed by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys has just paid off big for a group of Georgia employees... to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars.

In September of 2005, Foundation staff attorneys filed unfair labor practice charges against the International Longshoreman's Local 1414 union in Savannah, Georgia. The notoriously thuggish longshoremen union bosses had been forcing nonmember employees to pay dues to seek work at a union-controlled hiring hall. This policy violated Georgia's Right to Work law, which holds that workers cannot be forced to pay any dues if they choose not to belong to a union.

In May, an NLRB settlement forced the union to partially reimburse nonmember employees, but until recently it wasn't revealed just how much money the union had previously extorted. According to the latest edition of the NLRB's regional newsletter (pdf), the union had no choice but to refund $250K to nonmember workers that union officials illegally collected.

Unfortunately, the NLRB's settlement only reduced workers' fees but did not end the requirement to pay union dues for use of the union controlled hiring hall. Employees are still challenging the forced fees as a violation of Georgia's Right to Work law.


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