Chemistry teacher Dr. Kristie Chiscano shared in a newly released video about how National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys are assisting her and her fellow teachers at her school to challenge coercive union bosses.
After a career as a surgeon, Dr. Chiscano decided to become a high school teacher at Gompers Preparatory Academy (GPA), a charter school in San Diego, California. She chose GPA in part because there was no coercive union presence at the school.
But that changed when the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) union installed itself in January 2019 after conducting a coercive “Card Check” drive, depriving school employees of the right to decide for themselves whether to join the union.
In the video, Dr. Chiscano explained the situation:
“The families and the teachers were quite upset that this had been started without any discussion whatsoever. So there was a riff, for lack of a better word, between those who wanted to have the union to come in and those who felt like this was very unfair, it was very against the mission of the school, and that we didn’t have a choice in the matter. …
“I asked over and over again: In California, what rights do I have? Because this union has taken over my work environment without my choice. I chose to work at a school without a union and now they come in and they’re running everything about my contract and my work. How can that be fair? I didn’t want this. How can it be fair?”
Since the school’s unionization without a secret ballot vote, no monopoly bargaining contract has been approved. All the while, GPA parents and educators have accused SDEA agents of sowing division at the school, including by supporting anti-charter school legislation, making unnecessary and disparaging comments to school leadership during bargaining sessions, and plotting to prevent the California NAACP from giving the school’s director, Vincent Riveroll, an award for helping minority students succeed.
Despite this appalling situation, Dr. Chiscano and her fellow teachers could not find anyone to help them until they contacted the National Right to Work Foundation to request free legal assistance.
With this impending legal battle over the union’s attempt to block her decertification petition, Foundation staff attorneys are now providing Dr. Chiscano and her fellow teachers with free legal aid to challenge union officials’ attempt to stymie their right to hold a decertification vote to oust a union they believe lacks the support of a majority of the school’s educators.
Dr. Chiscano concluded her video by saying how important the Foundation’s legal aid was to her and her fellow teachers: “No matter the outcome, at least we had someone to guide us in our fight, because we had nobody.”
Wall Street Journal: Texas AG Seeks to Enforce Government Employees’ First Amendment Rights Under Janus v AFSCME
The Editorial Board at The Wall Street Journal published a column on May 31, 2020, detailing efforts in Texas to enforce the landmark Janus v AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision argued and won by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys:
The Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, plans to release an advisory opinion soon that could help free public employees who are fed up with their union. In 2018 in Janus v. Afscme, the Supreme Court said that union fees couldn’t be deducted from the paycheck of a government worker who didn’t ‘affirmatively consent.’
“The question is what flows from this logic. Last fall Alaska Governor Michael Dunleavy, citing Janus, signed an order to let state workers quit the union anytime, instead of only during 10 enchanted days once each year. Union members also would have to refresh their consent forms periodically.
The move by Attorney General Paxton came after Foundation President Mark Mix and staff attorney William Messenger — who argued the Janus case at the Supreme Court — called on states like Texas to emulate Alaska. They wrote that “state officials, along with federal agencies, should follow Alaska’s example” in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal last August.
In addition, Mix and Messenger highlighted how Janus requires that government workers must voluntarily waive their First Amendment rights before union dues or fees can be deducted from their paycheck through a voluntary waiver:
Fourteen months ago the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protects government employees from being forced to subsidize unions. Janus v. Afscme affirmed that some five million state and local workers have the legal right to stop such payments.
Another aspect of Janus, however, has been overshadowed. The decision requires that the government obtain proof that workers voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently waived their First Amendment rights not to subsidize union speech before deducting union dues or fees from their paychecks. “To be effective, the waiver must be freely given and shown by ‘clear and compelling’ evidence,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote. “Unless employees clearly and affirmatively consent before any money is taken from them, this standard cannot be met.”
Yet the federal government and many states and localities continue to deduct union dues without evidence that workers waived their speech rights, usually based on pre-Janus authorization forms that come nowhere close to demonstrating a waiver. Labor Department figures suggest unconstitutional deductions could be coming out of the paychecks of as many as 7.2 million government employees nationwide. The fix is simple: Governments must cease transferring wages to unions until they amend their dues-deduction policies to comply with Janus.
In April the West Virginia Supreme Court upheld West Virginia’s Right to Work law, ending a multi-year union boss legal challenge.
National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse wrote an article for The Federalist Society analyzing the decision in the case: Morrisey v. West Virginia AFL-CIO. LaJeunesse just published piece highlights how the justices relied heavily on the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the law protecting workers against being forced to subsidize union activities:
“Four of the five Justices concluded in Morrisey that the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME, 138 S. Ct. 2448 (2018), required that result. Janus held that forcing nonmembers to pay union fees as a condition of public employment violates the First Amendment. As Justice Workman put it, concurring in the judgment of the Court in Morrisey, ‘there is no principled basis on which to conclude that under the legal analysis upon which Janus is based, a prohibition on the collection of agency fees is constitutional for public employees’ unions but unconstitutional for private employees’ unions.'”
Foundation staff attorneys filed 10 legal briefs in Morrisey in defense of West Virginia’s Right to Work law. Foundation President Mark Mix hailed the decision as a “a great victory for Mountain State employees.”
Since 2012, Foundation staff attorneys have defended and enforced five newly passed Right to Work in states including West Virginia.
Foundation Staff Attorneys Appeal NLRB Settlement that Fails to Compensate Victims of Union Discrimination Scheme
Tygart Center settlement failed to provide a complete remedy to employees for its discriminatory practice of paying more per hour to union stewards
Fairmont, WV (May 26, 2020) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have appealed a forced settlement agreement between the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Tygart Center imposed on healthcare worker Donna Harper. Harper objects to the imposed settlement because it fails to provide a complete remedy for her and other workers who were discriminated against under the union bargaining agreement between Tygart Center and Teamsters Local 175.
In the settlement, Tygart Center agrees to stop enforcing an unlawful contract provision under which Teamsters union stewards have been paid more per hour than other employees. However, as Foundation attorneys argue in their appeal to NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, the settlement does not require Tygart Center to compensate the employees who were denied the additional pay per hour as a result of the discrimination.
“The Employer and Union unlawfully discriminated in favor of Union stewards, granting them an increased wage in the [union contract] while denying that wage to all others,” one portion of the appeal reads. “This action denied a benefit to every employee who was not a Union steward.”
Foundation staff attorneys also filed an amicus brief for Harper with the West Virginia Supreme Court to defend the state’s Right to Work law against a protracted lawsuit brought by several unions attempting to overturn the law and restore union officials’ power to have workers fired for refusing to pay union dues or fees.
The West Virginia Supreme Court on April 21 of this year unanimously upheld the constitutionality of West Virginia’s Right to Work law, which has been in effect during that litigation due to earlier orders issued by that court.
“Union bosses in West Virginia want nothing more than to coerce workers into paying dues either by misleading workers by wrongly telling them they must pay union dues or by trying unsuccessfully to overturn the state’s Right to Work law in court,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Foundation staff attorneys are ensuring that employers and union bosses in the Mountain State do not get away with illegal deals to fill union coffers or unlawfully discriminate against employees who choose to exercise their rights to not engage in union activity.”