**Portland, OR (April 24, 2007)** – In a symbolic victory for employee free choice, a group of workers aided by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys have forced Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49 to abandon the coercive “card check” union organizing process in Oregon and Washington for six months because of repeated and widespread abuses by SEIU officials.
Card check union organizing strips workers of the limited protections of a government-supervised secret ballot election, and substitutes a process in which union agents can browbeat workers one-on-one into signing cards that are then counted as “votes” favoring unionization.
The settlement stems from federal unfair labor practice charges filed by Ryan Canney, a Portland-area Siltronics employee, and removes the unwanted union from his workplace Somers Building Maintenance –Siltronic (SBM). It also requires SEIU union officials to inform workers that the company will not bargain with union officials unless the employees so choose through a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) secret ballot election. The settlement also forbids Siltronics from recognizing a union based on a card check count for at least one year.
In October 2006, SEIU Local 49 union officials allegedly tricked Canney and his coworkers into signing “information flyers” that were later counted as votes favoring unionization. Soon after, SBM recognized the SEIU union as the monopoly bargaining agent despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of SBM employees signed two separate petitions to the NLRB – one prior to the SEIU union’s recognition and one after – stating their wish to remain nonunion. Canney also charged that Siltronics overlooked out of date cards, promised benefits, and otherwise deceived and coerced employees into supporting unionization.
“The NLRB has now recognized that SEIU union officials can’t be trusted with card check. Local 49 officials have become notorious for abusing workers’ rights during organizing drives,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “However, if abusive card check organizing becomes the law of the land, workers will suffer abuse at the hands of union organizers on a massive scale.”
Currently, Congress is considering legislation that would mandate card check as the only legal method by which unions could be recognized as representatives of all employees in bargaining units.
Canney’s settlement follows a similar settlement by Karen Mayhew, a Foundation-assisted employee of Kaiser Permanente. Although Mayhew’s settlement successfully removed the unwanted Local 49 union from her workplace, SEIU officials continued abusing employee rights using the card check scheme at other employers in Oregon and Washington State.
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, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.