17 Aug 2019

Stop & Shop Strike Fallout: Grocery Worker Hits UFCW with Two Federal Charges

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, May/June 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Union bosses bullied and illegally threatened to discipline employee who defied strike demands

Joe Biden UFCW Union

Ardent forced dues-supporter and former Vice President Joe Biden joined with UFCW bosses on the picket lines during the Stop & Shop strike, even as UFCW officials were violating the rights of rank-and-file workers.

NORTHAMPTON, MA – Stop & Shop employee Matthew Coffey, one of thousands across New England who were ordered to strike by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union bosses in April, has filed two unfair labor practice charges against the union for violating his rights before, during and after the strike.

Coffey charges that UFCW officials lied to him about union membership requirements at the beginning of his tenure with Stop & Shop, misinformed him about his right to continue working during the strike, targeted him with personal slurs when he did decide to keep working and finally tried to illegally discipline him once the strike concluded.

From Start of Employment, UFCW Bosses Misled Worker

According to his first charge, union officials led Coffey to believe that Stop & Shop is a “closed shop.” As a result, he joined the UFCW when hired in 2017, under the impression that union membership was required to keep his job.

It wasn’t until the April strike that he discovered “closed shops” are illegal under federal law and he had the legal right to refrain from formal union membership.

With this new knowledge, he returned to work and filed his first charge against UFCW Local 1459 with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys. That charge detailed union lies about his right to refrain from union membership and resign before the strike.

It also detailed harassment he endured, including personal slurs, because he exercised his right to work during the strike.

Illegal Threats Follow Initial Rights Violations

After the strike ended, UFCW officials weren’t finished with Coffey. Union agents mailed him a letter, threatening to discipline him for disobeying the strike order and demanding that Coffey appear before a union kangaroo court to defend himself.

Coffey responded by filing a second unfair labor practice charge.

“Matthew Coffey endured bullying and intimidation from UFCW union bosses, simply for choosing to resign his union membership and continue to work and provide for his family,” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens.

“Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon story. Union boss-ordered strikes are frequently rife with intimidation and violations of workers’ rights, and the Foundation plays a major role in ensuring workers subjected to such malfeasance have a voice.”

14 Aug 2019

National Right to Work Foundation Issues Special Legal Notice for Michigan Construction Workers Impacted by Operating Engineers Union Boss Strike

Posted in News Releases

Recent cases brought by Foundation staff attorneys demonstrate union officials frequently mislead workers about their rights during a strike

Detroit, MI (Aug 1, 2019) – Staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation have provided a legal notice to Michigan-based employees of the Rieth-Riley Construction Company in the wake of Operating Engineers Local 324 union boss strike demands.

News reports indicate that the strike order affects hundreds of employees who are operating heavy machinery as part of Michigan state projects to repair the state’s highways. The special legal notice informs these affected workers of the rights union officials won’t tell them about, including that they have the right to keep working and support their families despite the union boss-ordered strike.

“The situation raises serious concerns for employees who believe there is much to lose from a union-ordered strike,” the legal notice reads. “Which is why workers frequently contact the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to learn how they can avoid fines and other vicious union discipline for continuing to work during a strike to support themselves and their families.”

The Foundation’s legal notice informs Rieth-Riley employees of their rights to resign union membership and continue to work during the union-determined strike, complete with example resignation letters. It also notes that workers have the right to revoke their union dues “check-offs,” which authorize their employer to deduct union dues directly from their paychecks. Finally, the notice provides a link to information on how to oust an unwanted union from the workplace, including the process for initiating a National Labor Relations Board-approved decertification vote.

The full notice can be found at www.nrtw.org/rieth-riley/.

The National Right to Work Foundation is the nation’s premier organization exclusively dedicated to providing free legal assistance to employee victims of forced unionism abuse. In California earlier this year, the Foundation represented three Sacramento-based mosquito abatement employees who sued Operating Engineers Local 3 for illegally intimidating them simply because they had sought information on their right to decertify a union. The California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) ruled in favor of the workers in May.

The Foundation also aided employees in the aftermath of the high-profile New England Stop & Shop strike which was ordered by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union bosses in April. Foundation staff attorneys filed federal charges against the UFCW for two workers who received threats of illegal retaliation after continuing to work during the strike, and provided many more with information on their rights.

“As demonstrated in California earlier this year, Operating Engineers bosses will stop at nothing to ensure workers don’t discover their rights, and that effort will only intensify during this strike,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The Foundation, since its founding in 1968, has been committed to offering free legal aid to workers to protect themselves from union bosses’ coercive tactics which regularly go hand-in-hand with union strike demands.”

12 Aug 2019

National Right to Work Foundation: Federal Agencies Must Stop Deducting Union Dues in Violation of First Amendment Janus Rights

Posted in News Releases

Comments to Federal Labor Relations Authority point out that no union dues can be seized unless a federal employee provides a knowing waiver of their First Amendment rights

Washington, DC (Aug 12, 2019) – Today the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed comments with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) regarding the need for the federal government to fully protect the First Amendment rights of its employees as recognized in the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME.

The submission comes after the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) asked the FLRA to solicit public comments on how to proceed with union dues deductions in light of the Supreme Court’s decision.

In Janus, the High Court held that requiring public employees to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment violates their First Amendment rights “by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.” Justice Samuel Alito further ruled for the majority that no union dues or fees could be taken from a public employee “unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay” using a “freely given” waiver of his or her First Amendment rights.

Consistent with that standard, the Foundation urged the FLRA to issue guidance to agencies that they “must cease deducting union dues from the wages of employees who signed a dues deduction form that does not satisfy the [Janus] standard.” Federal employees who signed dues deduction authorizations before the Janus decision did not knowingly waive their Janus rights. Consequently, union dues cannot legally be deducted from their paychecks.

According to the Department of Labor, nearly one million federal employees (or 26.4% of all federal workers) are union members, most of whom are likely having dues deducted from their paychecks despite never having knowingly waived their First Amendment right not to subsidize union activities as protected by Janus.

Workers who want to voluntarily pay union dues must either provide the government with a valid waiver or pay dues on their own without using taxpayer-funded payroll systems to forward the money to union officials. The comments further argue that, even where workers provide a valid authorization for dues deductions that meets the Janus standard, the government should not block them from revoking that authorization if the request is submitted at any time at least a year after the Janus-complaint authorization was obtained.

Though federal workers have never been required to pay union dues or fees to keep a job, agencies and union officials frequently prohibit employees from stopping the seizure of union dues from their wages except during short annual escape periods. The comments filed by the National Right to Work Foundation say that this practice does not comply with Janus either.

“The Janus precedent is not ambiguous on this issue: Without an affirmative and knowing waiver from public workers, the government cannot collect union dues without violating the First Amendment,” explained National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The government is seizing union dues from close to one million federal workers in violation of the First Amendment, and federal agencies have an obligation to act swiftly to ensure that workers’ Janus rights are fully protected.”

Foundation staff attorneys have been hard at work ensuring that public workers’ constitutional rights under the Janus decision are protected, with more than 30 cases active in federal courts across the country to enforce the landmark ruling.

9 Aug 2019

National Labor Relations Board Announces Rules to Limit Union Boss Tactics Trapping Workers in Unions They Oppose

Posted in News Releases

Today the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced rulemaking to change its policies that permit union officials to block workers from holding decertification votes to remove unions. The alterations incorporate standards established in past NLRB cases argued by Foundation staff attorneys, and urged in comments submitted by staff attorneys to the Board.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix issued the following comments regarding the NLRB’s move:

“For years union officials have used a wide range of tactics to suppress the right to vote out a union that is opposed by a majority of workers. Today’s announced rules are a good first step in what needs to be a larger series of reforms that put the rights of workers ahead of the coercive legal powers that have been granted to union bosses. That Big Labor will oppose these proposals that simply make it easier for workers to vote for or against unionization in secret ballot elections demonstrates how much their power derives from legal trickery and not from the voluntary support of rank-and-file workers.”

The announced changes include the elimination of a “bar” blocking workers from voting out a union for a period of time after a union has been installed through a controversial “card check” process and reforms to the NLRB’s “blocking charge” policy that permits union officials to file Unfair Labor Practice charges that then block workers’ right to hold a decertification election, sometimes for years. Both of the proposed changes are reforms that Foundation staff attorneys have long pushed for, including in comments to the NLRB on the election rules submitted in April 2018.

Over the years, Foundation staff attorneys have litigated dozens of cases at the NLRB for workers whose petitions for decertification votes were not processed because of the two policies.

8 Aug 2019

Supreme Court Asked to Uphold First Amendment Rights of Childcare Providers

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, May/June 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

High Court should strike down scheme forcing business owners under SEIU representation

Mark Mix Supreme Court Janus v AFSMCE

Citing the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME First Amendment victory, childcare provider Katherine Miller is asking the High Court to apply the same First Amendment scrutiny to forced union association.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Katherine Miller runs a small childcare business out of her home in White Salmon, Washington, providing daycare for local children. When she and other childcare providers in the state found themselves forced to associate with the radical Service Employees International Union (SEIU), they turned to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation for legal assistance in defending their rights.

Miller and thousands of other Washington State childcare providers often look after children from low-income families whose childcare costs are subsidized by the Washington State government. Merely because part of her business revenue includes these subsidies, the government claims she is a “public employee” solely for the purposes of union representation. As a result, Washington granted SEIU the power to force her under their union monopoly bargaining scheme and dictate the terms of how she runs her home-based business.

Scheme’s ‘Logic’ Could Force Anybody Under Union Monopoly Representation

Faced with being forced under an SEIU monopoly against her will, Miller, along with another childcare business owner, Cindy Mentele, filed a federal lawsuit with the help of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys in 2016. Their lawsuit challenged Washington’s policy as an infringement of their First Amendment right of free association.

“If SEIU bosses and their allies in Washington’s government can coerce a woman who runs a small childcare business in her own home into associating with a union, then there is no legal limit to who can be forced to accept a government-appointed ‘representative’ to speak to and lobby the government for them,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix.

After the frequently overturned Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided against her in February, Miller and her Foundation staff attorneys filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case. Mentele, sick of waiting for her First Amendment rights to be protected by the courts and her state government, has since stopped accepting children who are in thestate’s low-income subsidy program.

“The ugly message that the State of Washington’s current law sends is: If you want your freedom of association protected, your business will need to discriminate against children from low-income families,” added Mix.

Foundation Victories Provide Key Precedents for Protecting Free Association

The petition asks the court to hold government-mandated forced “representation” to the same standard that led the Supreme Court to find in the landmark 2018 Janus v. AFSCME decision that forced union fees violate the First Amendment. In that ruling, the Supreme Court also held that government-granted union monopoly bargaining power over public employees is “a significant impingement on associational freedoms that would not be tolerated in other contexts.”

In this case, Miller maintains that Washington’s policy breaches the First Amendment by forcing her to associate with union officials whose representation she doesn’t want and to which she didn’t consent. Miller’s argument also cites the High Court’s holding in the 2014 Harris v. Quinn case, which invalidated forced union fees for similar home-based care providers on the grounds that they are not full-fledged “public employees.”

Supreme Court Asked to Protect Freedom of Association

The petition argues that finding, in combination with the Supreme Court’s observation in Janus regarding forced association in “other contexts,” warrants Supreme Court review.

Foundation staff attorneys successfully argued and briefed both the Janus and Harris cases at the Supreme Court. In both cases the Supreme Court applied a heightened level of “exacting” First Amendment scrutiny to the government-imposed forced dues, which is what Miller asks the Court to apply in her case challenging forced association with a union.

“Based on misinterpretations of not only Janus, but also earlier Foundation-won Supreme Court precedents, courts across the country have looked the other way as union bosses and their allies in government have come up with increasingly outrageous schemes to force individuals under union monopolies against their will,” said Mix. “Forcing individuals under union boss representation against their will is at the core of all of Big Labor’s coercive powers, and it is time for the Supreme Court to step in and acknowledge that government-appointed representation is not compatible with First Amendment freedom of association.”

4 Aug 2019

Michigan Workers Halt Union Bosses’ Tactics to Undermine Right to Work

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, May/June 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Rather than face Foundation attorneys, union officials back down from forced-dues schemes

Since Right to Work legislation was signed into state law in December 2012, Foundation staff attorneys have provided free legal aid in more than 100 cases in Michigan for workers like Jeffery Hauswirth as they combat forced unionism abuses.

MICHIGAN – Since the 2012 passage of Right to Work legislation in Michigan, Foundation staff attorneys have provided free legal assistance to Michigan workers, challenging compulsory unionism’s abuses in more than 100 cases.

Developments in Foundation cases in recent months show that, despite dozens of victories for workers, Michigan union bosses continue attempting to cling to their forced-fees power by stifling employees’ rights.

Karen Ellis, who works at Vocational Independence Program, an adult education school in Flint, won a settlement against Teamsters Local 332 with free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys. She filed charges after union officials ignored her union dues deduction revocation and threatened to sue her to force her to pay union dues.

Michigan Worker Halts Union Bosses’ Threats Demanding Forced Dues

In February 2017, during a contract hiatus after Teamsters Local 332’s monopoly bargaining contract over her and her coworkers expired, Ellis hand-delivered a letter to union officials notifying them that she resigned from union membership and revoked her authorization for union dues deductions from her paycheck. She sent another letter two days later to reiterate that, and additionally notified Local 332’s international affiliate in a letter two weeks later.

Teamsters union bosses waited nine months before notifying Ellis in November 2017 that they refused to honor her revocation of dues deduction authorization. They claimed she owed union dues of nearly $300, threatening to sue if she did not pay. Union officials also filed a grievance against her employer, for honoring her revocation and stopping the deduction of dues from her paycheck.

Even after Ellis reiterated her revocation — in November 2017 and again in February 2018, during another contractual hiatus — union officials refused to honor her revocation and threatened to sue.

Ellis sought free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys to challenge Teamsters Local 332’s demands as a violation of the National Labor Relations Act, by blocking her from exercising her right to refrain from union membership and paying union dues.

Rather than face Foundation attorneys, Local 332 officials decided to settle. They will honor Ellis’ original dues deduction revocation submitted in 2017. Additionally, union officials will post a notice informing the school’s employees of their right to choose whether or not to join and support a union.

Ellis’ settlement is one of many, as Foundation attorneys enforce the Wolverine State’s Right to Work protections for employees.

Unfair labor practice charges brought by Foundation staff attorneys for several Michigan public school employees against the Michigan Education Association (MEA) have forced union officials to settle, halting “window period” schemes undermining Michigan’s Right to Work Law.

After Michigan’s Right to Work Law went into effect in 2013, public school employees Lindsey Bentley, Mary Derks, Sarah Evon, Jeffery Hauswirth, Becky Lapham, Shannon Rochon and Michael Rochon each resigned their membership in the MEA and its local affiliates.

However, union officials refused to acknowledge the resignations, citing a “window period” policy that limited members to exercising their right to resign union membership during the month of August. Union officials claimed that the workers owed membership dues until the next “window period” to resign came around in August 2014, which was for many of the workers nearly a full year after their resignation. MEA officials also threatened to use collection agencies to collect dues the union claimed to be owed.

Public School Workers Successfully Challenge ‘Window Period’ Scheme

The workers all sought free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, who assisted them in filing unfair labor practice charges at the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) against MEA and its local affiliates. Their charges were held in abeyance pending the result of another case, Snyder, in which Foundation staff attorneys provided legal aid to public school employees challenging the MEA’s “window period” policy.

The MERC ruled in Snyder that the MEA and its affiliates violated the state’s Right to Work protections for public employees, by illegally restricting employees’ right to resign union membership and by attempting to collect dues under the unlawful policy.

After losing to Foundation staff attorneys in court in Snyder, MEA officials decided to settle these cases. The MEA officials have acknowledged each employee’s union membership resignation, stopped demanding union dues and will refund with interest the union dues that two of the employees paid after his or her resignation. One employee will receive a refund of more than $250, while another will receive nearly $500 in back dues and interest.

“These workers bravely challenged union bosses’ attempts to bully them into paying tribute to a union against their wishes,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens. “These cases also show that workers need to keep fighting against coercion, as Michigan union bosses have repeatedly proven their willingness to violate employees’ protections under Michigan’s Right to Work Laws to keep Big Labor’s forced-dues money stream flowing. Foundation staff attorneys continue to assist independent-minded workers across the state in fighting back against Big Labor’s campaign to undermine Right to Work in Michigan.”

3 Aug 2019

Union Faces Federal Prosecution for Failure to Disclose Forced-Fees Amount

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, May/June 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Union bosses already backed down from separate charge challenging illegal forced-fees demands

Terry Denton and her colleague brought charges against Unite Here union bosses for their illegal forced-fee demands.

PORTLAND, OR – A formal complaint has been issued in a case brought by two workers with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, to challenge union officials’ failure to disclose the amount of forced fees for union non-members.

Currently, when a private sector worker in a state that lacks Right to Work laws is forced to choose between union membership and full union fees or refraining from union membership and paying reduced forced fees, unions are not required to inform the employee of the specific amount of non-member forced fees until he or she decides to object to union membership and full union dues.

A favorable ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in this new case would mean employees will no longer have to object to full union dues without important information, as union officials would be required to provide the percentage of reduction of the lower forced fees. Additionally, even workers who do want to be union members would see how much of their dues would go to union activity, for example, how much would go to activities such as political action and lobbying.

Case Challenges NLRB Ruling Blocking Workers from Forced-Fee Information

Terry Denton and Alejandro Martinez Cuevas work for Bon Appetit at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Unite Here Local 8 union officials unionized the workplace in May 2017 via a coercive “Card Check” campaign, an abuse-prone process that circumvents an NLRB-supervised secret ballot election.

Because Oregon lacks a Right to Work law, non-members like Denton and Cuevas can be required to pay union officials in order to work. However, under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Beck decision, workers cannot be required to fund activities unrelated to certain union activities, such as political action, lobbying or organizing.

When Denton, Cuevas and their colleagues were forced to choose between full union dues and non-member forced fees, union officials did not tell the employees the amount of the reduction in fees employees who object to paying full dues would be required to pay.

With help from Foundation staff attorneys, Denton and Cuevas filed unfair labor practice charges in August 2018 at the NLRB, stating that Unite Here Local 8 violated their rights by failing to provide employees under the monopoly bargaining contract with sufficient information to allow the workers to make an informed decision about whether to object to paying full union dues.

After NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb released a new memo on fee disclosure, the NLRB Regional Director issued a complaint, consolidating Denton’s and Cuevas’ charges. Robb’s memo urged the NLRB to overturn a ruling that held unions do not have to inform a new employee of the specific amount of non-member forced fees, until the worker decides to object to union membership and full union dues.

Oregon Right to Work Law Needed to Protect Workers

Denton filed additional charges with free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys in January 2019, after union officials sent bills to her and other non-members for union fees in excess of what they could lawfully charge. Union officials claimed that if the workers did not pay the bills, they could lose their jobs.

After Denton filed those charges, Unite Here Local 8 backed down from its initial demands by waiving fee payments for all non-members until November 2018. Union officials then sent out new bills reflecting the new policy and crediting payments that Denton previously made.

“Ms. Denton stood up to union bosses’ coercive attempts to take advantage of her and other employees through illegal demands on their hard-earned money,” said Ray LaJeunesse, vice president and legal director of the National Right to Work Foundation. “However, this shows that stronger legal protections are critical for the future of Oregon’s independent-minded workers. A clear ruling by the NLRB is needed to protect workers from Big Labor’s tactics. But, ultimately, Oregon workers need the protections of a Right to Work law to ensure that union affiliation and financial support are completely voluntary.”

2 Aug 2019

Wall Street Journal Highlights Foundation Litigation to Enforce Janus v. AFSCME

Posted in Blog

In June 2018, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys won the landmark Janus v. AFSMCE case at the U.S. Supreme Court. The Janus decision established that the First Amendment protects public-sector workers from being forced to pay dues or fees to a union against their wishes.

Union bosses have widely blocked public employees from exercising their Janus rights using a variety of coercive tactics, requiring Foundation staff attorneys to pursue dozens of follow-up cases to enforce Janus.

Recently The Wall Street Journal published an article highlighting this ongoing litigation and heavily cited veteran Foundation staff attorney Bill Messenger:

The opt-out window is a favorite post-Janus union tactic for retaining members. More than 40 lawsuits against these “escape period” requirements are pending across the country, according to Bill Messenger, an attorney with the National Right to Work Foundation who argued Mark Janus’s case at the Supreme Court. …

Mr. Messenger and lawyers at LJC argue that these opt-out window requirements flout the Janus ruling, which clarified that a worker must give affirmative consent to become a union member. Before Janus, they argue, workers couldn’t give free, knowledgeable consent because they faced an unconstitutional choice between being a member or an agency-fee payer. Unions are violating the free-speech rights of members like Ms. Callaghan, who joined before Janus, by forcing them to wait for opt-out windows to leave. …

More than 80 lawsuits are challenging union efforts to hang on to unwilling members. Often handled by nonprofits like the LJC and NRTW Foundation, these suits fall into four main camps: challenging opt-out window restrictions, seeking compensation for pre-Janus agency fees paid by nonmembers, fighting exclusive union representation, and extending Janus to the private sector. These cases aren’t litigating the merits of unions; they’re seeking to codify workers’ freedom to choose whether they want to be in one.

Read the complete column from The Wall Street Journal here.

2 Aug 2019

Flight Attendant’s Lawsuit Against Southwest and Union for Illegal Firing Will Continue

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, May/June 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Employee was fired after opposing union political activity and supporting Right to Work

Charlene Carter turned to Foundation attorneys after union bosses demanded she be fired for voicing her religious beliefs and support of the National Right to Work Act.

DALLAS, TX – Charlene Carter was forced to pay fees to the Transportation Workers Union (TWU) Local 556 union to keep her job as a Southwest flight attendant. Compelled to subsidize a union that actively promoted political issues that violated her conscience, Carter spoke out in protest of how her union fees were being spent.

Her concerns were ignored — until Carter responded to a union email by declaring her support for Right to Work. Weeks later, Carter was fired.

She sought free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, who filed a lawsuit in 2017 challenging the firing. Southwest and TWU Local 556 moved to dismiss her claims, but a federal judge recently ordered that the lawsuit should continue.

Worker Forced to Subsidize Politically Active Union

As a Southwest Airlines employee, Carter joined TWU Local 556 in September 1996. A pro-life Christian, she resigned her membership in September 2013 after learning that her union dues were being used to promote causes that violate her conscience and beliefs.

However, she was still forced to pay fees to TWU Local 556 to keep her job. Texas Right to Work Law does not protect her from forced union fees, because airline and railway employees are covered by the federal Railway Labor Act (RLA). The RLA allows union officials to have a worker fired for refusing to pay union dues or fees, but does protect the rights of employees to remain non-members of the union, to criticize the union and its leadership, and advocate in favor of changing the union’s current leadership.

Carter became a vocal supporter of a campaign to recall the TWU Local 556 Executive Board, including its president, Audrey Stone. Her pleadings describe how, in the year leading up to her lawsuit, Southwest subjected supporters of the recall campaign to disciplinary measures, including fact-findings, suspension and even termination of employment, in multiple instances at the request of TWU Local 556 members and officials.

Carter’s lawsuit states that, in contrast, when complaints were filed against the Executive Board’s supporters for their social media activity, which included allegations of death threats, threats of violence, obscene language and sexual harassment, those employees were either not disciplined or were allowed to keep their jobs.

In January 2017, Carter learned that President Stone and other TWU Local 556 officials used union dues to attend the “Women’s March on Washington D.C.,” which was sponsored by political groups she opposed, including Planned Parenthood.

Carter’s lawsuit argues that Southwest knew of the TWU Local 556 activities and participation in the Women’s March and helped accommodate TWU Local 556 members who attended the protest, by allowing them to give their work shifts to other employees not attending the protest.

Carter sent President Stone private Facebook messages, sharply criticizing the union and its support for pro-abortion activity. President Stone never responded to Carter.

Southwest Fired Worker at Union Bosses’ Behest

A month later, Carter received an email from TWU Local 556, urging her to oppose a National Right to Work Bill. Carter responded again with an email to President Stone, declaring her support for Right to Work and the Executive Board recall effort.

Days after sending Stone that email, Carter was notified by Southwest managers that they needed to have a mandatory meeting as soon as possible about “Facebook posts they had seen.” During this meeting, Southwest confronted Carter with screenshots of her pro-life posts and messages, and questioned her why she made them.

Carter explained her religious beliefs and opposition to the union’s political activities. Carter said that, by participating in the Women’s March, President Stone and TWU Local 556 members purported to be representing all Southwest flight attendants. Southwest authorities indicated that President Stone claimed to be harassed by these messages.

A week after this meeting, Southwest fired Carter, claiming she violated its “Workplace Bullying and Hazing Policy” and “Social Media Policy.” Before her termination, Carter had never received any discipline in her 20-year career with Southwest.

“I had a really hard time knowing that they went and spent our money… and when we voiced our opinion about it, we were chastised about it,” Carter said. “And for me, I was fired for it.”

Court: ‘More Than a Sheer Possibility’ of Illegal Discrimination

Carter received free legal assistance from Foundation staff attorneys to file a federal lawsuit to challenge the firing as an abuse of her rights, alleging she lost her job because she stood up to TWU Local 556 and criticized the union for its political activities and how it spent employees’ money.

Although Southwest and TWU Local 556 moved to dismiss her claims, the federal district court ruled that Carter’s allegations establish “more than a sheer possibility” that union officials retaliated against her, and that Southwest fired her for opposing union leadership and engaging in activities the RLA protects.

The Court also denied Southwest’s motion to dismiss Carter’s claim that Southwest discriminated against her religious beliefs in violation of Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964, as Carter has established “more than a sheer possibility” that her religious beliefs and practices were a factor in Southwest’s decision to fire her.

Carter also claims that TWU Local 556 discriminated against her religious beliefs by complaining about her pro-life messages in order to get Southwest to fire her. Union officials did not ask the court to dismiss that claim.

“This case shows the extent to which union officials will wield their power over employers to violate the rights’ of the workers they claim to represent,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Charlene Carter merely voiced her opinion and opposition to her money being used for causes she opposes, expressing her protected religious beliefs.

“A victory for Charlene would send a message that this type of abuse of union monopoly power will not go unchallenged. Ultimately, it is up to Congress to end Big Labor’s power to force its representation on workers who oppose it and then add insult to injury by forcing workers under threat of termination to pay money to a union they oppose,” added Mix.

28 Jul 2019

Hospital Employees Fight Forced Unionization by Bureaucrat Fiat

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, May/June 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Workers were forced under SEIU’s ‘representation’ despite overwhelming opposition

Employees at Lehigh Valley Hospital – Schuylkill East were freed from union bosses’ scheme that forced them to subsidize the politically active SEIU.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) unanimously overturned a Regional Director’s decision that forced Pennsylvania hospital employees under the so-called “representation” of union bosses, even though the workers opposed the union and had rejected an SEIU organizing drive.

National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys filed a brief in the case for employees to support the challenge to the Regional Director’s decision.

Workers Halt Corrupt Union Power-Grab

In 2016, employees at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Schuylkill East completely rejected Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials’ attempts to unionize their workplace. Union organizers did not even file a petition for an election, which required the signatures of 30% of the hospital workers.

Employees at a separate facility, Schuylkill South, had been unionized for several decades.

SEIU agreed to a plan where some Schuylkill South workers were transferred to Schuylkill East, but kept under the union’s monopoly bargaining representation. Union officials then claimed that the entire Schuylkill East workforce should be included in the monopoly bargaining unit, based in part on the presence of these unionized workers.

In October 2017, NLRB Regional Director Dennis Walsh ordered that Schuylkill East workers should be forced into the slightly larger Schuylkill South monopoly bargaining unit, citing the NLRB’s “accretion” policy that grants union officials the power to absorb workers into a larger unionized workplace without their input. The employees were never given a vote.

Walsh had previously been suspended one month without pay by the NLRB, following an investigation into his use of his position with the NLRB to solicit contributions to a pro-union scholarship fund from union officials with cases at the NLRB. Reports indicate that the SEIU was one of the unions that made payments to Walsh’s fund.

The employer challenged Walsh’s ruling at the NLRB in Washington, D.C., and successfully halted SEIU’s coercive unionization scheme.

“This ruling is a much-needed victory for workers over a shameful union power-grab aided and abetted by a demonstrably partisan Regional Director, who only a few years ago was suspended for his pro-union conduct that violated NLRB ethics rules,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Despite the workers in this case successfully resisting an SEIU organizing drive, union bosses attempted to game the NLRB system to force these workers into union forced-dues ranks. The unanimous Board decision overturning the Regional Director’s order is evidence of just how radical the accretion in this case was, and how the accretion doctrine undermines the premise of the National Labor Relations Act which is supposedly based on the idea that workers have a say in whether or not they are unionized.”