Check out the lead article in the January/February 2017 Foundation Action Newsletter “Foundation Cases Poised to Challenge Forced Dues at Supreme Court”
Foundation Cases Poised to Challenge Forced Dues at Supreme Court
Cases to overturn forced dues could quickly reach Supreme Court with new Trump Justice
To read the rest of the January/February 2017 issue, please click here.
Washington, D.C. – Over the past few months, Foundation staff attorneys have been busy litigating hundreds of cases on the behalf of independent-minded workers across the country. Two of those cases have the potential to reach the Supreme Court this year and answer the unresolved questions left in the wake of the 4-4 split in the Fredrichs v. California Teachers Association.
One of those cases, Janus v. AFSCME, stems from an executive order from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner that placed any union fees that nonunion members were forced to pay into an escrow account until the constitutionality of those fees was resolved. Governor Rauner subsequently filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and argued that collecting forced dues or fees from state employees as a condition of employment violated the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Foundation staff attorneys then filed a motion to intervene as plaintiffs for Mark Janus and other state employees who are forced to pay union fees as a condition of employment. A Judge eventually ruled that Governor Rauner did not have standing in court but let the Foundation-represented employees continue to challenge the constitutionality of forced fees.
After the Supreme Court reached a 4-4 deadlock in a similar case earlier this year, Friedrichs v. CTA, a District Judge ruled against Janus and the other state employees. Foundation attorneys immediately filed an appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and are awaiting a decision. It is possible that a petition for a writ of certiorari could be filed with the Supreme Court later this year.
The second case, Serna v. Transportation Workers Union (TWA), is a class-action lawsuit brought by several American Eagle Airlines and Southwest Airlines employees U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas was pending with the Supreme Court as this issue of Foundation Action went to press. That suit challenges the constitutionality of the Railway Labor Act’s sanction of agreements that require compulsory union fees as a condition of employment.
Even though these employees work in the private sector, the Supreme Court has previously ruled that because the Railway Labor Act (RLA) effectively mandates forced fees for railway and airline workers, it effectively fosters the same Constitutional issues as were raised for government employees in Friedrichs. Therefore, success in Serna on the First Amendment claims against forced dues would effectively overturn forced dues for public sector workers.
After the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the airline employees citing the Friedrichs deadlock, Foundation staff attorneys filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court. The Court was scheduled to consider the petition on January 6 and a decision whether to take the case or not could follow shortly after, or the Justices may decide to hold the case in light of the potential for a 4-4 tie until a ninth Justice is seated.
“Both of these cases have the potential to answer the ultimate question that was left unresolved by Friedrichs and that is whether or not it is constitutional to force workers to pay union bosses tribute to get or keep a job,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said.
In addition to Serna and Janus, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have two additional cases working their way through the courts – one on behalf of university professors in Massachusetts and one for school employees in Kentucky – that directly challenge the constitutionality of mandatory union dues. More cases directly challenging the constitutionality of government-mandated forced union dues are expected to be filed by Foundation staff attorneys in 2017.
Special Notice Informs Employees of Their Newly-Won Rights
Springfield, VA (January 18, 2017) – Today the National Right to Work Foundation released a Special Legal Notice for workers in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, informing them of their rights under the nation’s most recently passed State Right to Work law. Kentucky’s Right to Work law allows workers to cease being a member of the union and stop paying any dues, fees, or other financial support to an unwanted union.
The Kentucky Right to Work law applies to collective bargaining contracts entered into, extended, or renewed on or after January 7, 2017. If you are subject to a contract in effect before January 7, 2017, you can be compelled to either pay union dues as a union member or fees as a nonmember until that contract expires or is renewed or extended. Even if you are subject to a contract in effect before January 7, 2017, nonmembers have the right to object to a portion of those fees and pay reduced fees until the Right to Work law is effective for you. For more information on the law and the new protections for Kentucky workers, please click here.
Constitutional challenge would free childcare providers from being forced to accept unwanted union ‘representation’
On December 9th, a group of New York childcare providers, with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, petitioned the Supreme Court to strike down a compulsory unionism scheme on First Amendment grounds. The childcare providers are challenging a New York law that empowers union officials to speak for all childcare providers, including those who have not joined and do not support the union, when bargaining with state government.
Foundation attorneys argue that the current arrangement violates the providers’ First Amendment right to choose with whom they associate to petition their government by naming a union as their state-designated lobbyist.
Recently, The Pacific Legal Foundation together with the Goldwater Institute, Fairness Center, Pioneer Institute, and Empire Center, filed an amicus brief supporting the petition, arguing that Americans cannot be compelled to speak or associate, or petition the government, against their wishes. To read the full brief please click here and to learn more about the case click here.
Today the National Right to Work Foundation along with the Liberty Justice Center, filed a brief on behalf of Illinois Government employees in the case Janus v. AFSCME. The case challenges the constitutionality of government union officials forced-dues privileges. The workers, all employed by the State of Illinois are currently required to pay union dues or fees to a union as a condition of their employment.
The case has the potential to go to the Supreme Court and answer the questions that the deadlocked Friedrichs case did not.
A District Judge recently dismissed the case back and the two employees, who are receiving free legal assistance from staff attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation and the Illinois Policy Institute’s Liberty Justice Center, filed an appeal of that dismissal in October.
National Right to Work Foundation Mark Mix was recently interviewed on The Illinois News Network about the case. Here are some of his comments.
“We think with the right justice, we could actually get a national right-to-work law for all government employees, thanks to the outcome of this past election.”
Mix said it could take a couple of months for a high court nominee to get approved by the U.S. Senate, but the Janus v. AFSCME case could get in front of the high court shortly thereafter.
The question is simple, Mix said: Is work that government employee unions do political in nature?
“They’re trying to advocate for certain government actions, and they’re trying to convince governments to do certain things with their resources, i.e. taxpayers’ resources, and so in that sense, it’s political speech,” Mix said.
“And if it’s political speech, it’s going to be protected by the First Amendment,” Mix said. “And if it’s protected by the First Amendment, then a worker can’t be compelled to pay anything to have someone, quote/unquote speak on their behalf.”
Mix said Illinois’ now $130 billion unfunded pension liability is the poster child of union power run amok, leaving taxpayers and government employees paying a huge price.
“And probably the biggest price will be paid by government employees who have done their job and probably are going to feel like they’ve been cheated when these pension problems really, really raise their heads, which I think they will sooner rather than later, unfortunately,” Mix said.
Special Notice for SEPTA Employees Represented by the Transportation Workers Union (TWU) Officials of the Transportation Workers Union (TWU) have ordered SEPTA employees out on strike.
The situation raises serious concerns for employees who believe there is much to lose
from a union-ordered strike.
Employees have the right under state and federal labor law to rebuff union officials’ strike
demands, but it is important for you to get informed before you do so.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO WORK DURING A STRIKE READ ALL OF
THIS SPECIAL NOTICE BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK – IT MIGHT
SAVE YOU THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS!
Union officials have a decades long history of disciplining, fining and abusing workers
who do not kow-tow to their dictates.
For this reason, many SEPTA employees may want to contact the National Right to Work
Legal Defense Foundation to learn how they can avoid fines and other vicious union discipline
for continuing to report to work to support themselves and their families. Much of the important
information about your rights can be found on our website here.
The Foundation wants you to learn about your legal rights from independent sources. You
should not rely on what self-interested union officials tell you. For over four decades, Foundation
attorneys have worked in the courts to protect and expand the rights of individual employees in
situations such as strikes. It is the nation’s premier organization exclusively dedicated to
providing free legal assistance to employee victims of forced unionism abuse.
SEPTA employees should know they have the following rights:
1) You have the right to resign your membership in the union. If you don’t support this union,
you can send the union a letter resigning your membership.
2) You have the right to go to work even if the union bosses order a strike. Union officials can
(and often do) levy onerous monetary fines against union members who work during a strike. So,
you should seriously consider resigning your union membership BEFORE you return to work
during a strike, which is the only way to avoid these ruinous union fines and discipline. See
Union Discipline and Employee Rights. Your resignation letter must be postmarked THE DAY
BEFORE you return to work, or hand delivered BEFORE you actually return to work.
3) You have the right to become an “objector” and pay only reduced fees instead of full
membership dues. If you become an objector, you will not be forced to pay for the TWU union’s
far-left political and social agenda.
4) You also have the right to revoke your dues check-off and stop allowing the union hierarchy
to automatically collect money from your paycheck every week while no contract is in effect.
You can send letters to the union and your employer revoking your authorization to have union
dues deducted from your paycheck.
5) If you wish to eject an unaccountable union hierarchy from your workplace, you have the
right to sign a decertification petition to obtain a secret ballot election to do so. See
Here is a sample letter for employees who wish to resign their union membership and become
NOTE: While not legally required, it is a better practice to send your letter to the union by
certified mail, return receipt requested, and save a copy of your letter and the return receipt to
prove delivery. If you hand deliver a letter, make sure that you have a reliable witness to the
delivery. In our experience, angry and dishonest union officials often pretend they did not
actually receive resignations and initiate discipline against non-striking workers anyway
When the UAW’s monopoly bargaining contract with the Big 3 automakers expires on September 14, 2015, workers in Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin will be able to exercise their Right to Work for the first time. Workers who want to resign from the union and stop all dues and fees may watch the video below for a detailed explanation of the steps workers must take.
The NRTW Foundation’s statement also provides important information and the special legal notice provides a sample resignation letter that workers may use. If any worker has trouble exercising their rights he or she may contact the Foundation and request free legal assistance here.
In response to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) taking a step on April 15, 2015, towards allowing union officials to force nonmember workers in Right to Work states to pay fees for union contract grievance-processing, Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement:
As Right to Work expands across the country, it is unfortunately not surprising that the Obama NLRB is now actively working to undermine the 25 state Right to Work laws. Its “call for briefs” signals this NLRB’s intention to reverse 60 years of Board precedent to give union bosses an unprecedented tool to eviscerate employees’ Right to Work protections.
The fact is that union officials choose monopoly bargaining control over all workers in a workplace even though they are free to instead negotiate a members-only contract. And union officials continue to do so because they enjoy and often depend on the power derived from that monopoly. The monopoly union contract and any grievance over its enforcement is the direct result of union bosses’ decision to impose their so-called “representation” on independent-minded employees who, because of their status as nonmembers, have lost all ability to influence the contents of the union contract that controls the outcome of any grievance.
The real solution would be to strip union officials of their monopoly bargaining powers that let them impose unwanted “representation” on unwilling workers, but as long as union bosses are empowered to force nonmembers under their contacts, Right to Work laws should continue to protect workers from being forced to subsidize that unwanted union boss monopoly representation, including through the union-imposed grievance process.
Three Years Later, Workers Ask for Secret Ballot Vote After Obama Labor Board Kills Card Check Protections
Three Years Later, Workers Ask for Secret Ballot Vote After Obama Labor Board Kills Card Check Protections
NLRB’s ruling removing workers’ protection against card check unionization exposed as a farce
Houston, TX (August 12, 2014) – Three years after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) eliminated workers’ right to challenge union card check recognition with a secret ballot vote, the very workers involved in that case have petitioned for an election to remove the unwanted union from their workplace.
In 2007, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys secured a new NLRB precedent in Dana Corp. which held that workers may collect signatures to request a secret ballot election during a 45-day window period following notice that their employer has recognized a union based on a card check organizing drive. The ruling was intended to counteract coercive practices frequently associated with card checks, which allow organizers to bully or mislead employees into signing cards that count as “votes” toward unionization.
In 2011, the Obama NLRB overturned the Dana precedent in Lamons Gasket.
Last week, two Alaska State Troopers, Patrick Scott Johnson and Gabriel Rich, were killed in the line of duty while conducting an investigation in Tanana, Alaska.
In addition to serving his community as a state trooper, Johnson was one of the five National Right to Work Foundation-assisted Alaska state troopers seeking to defend and expand the workplace rights of public servants in Alaska and across the country.
The Right to Work family is deeply saddened to hear the terrible news and sends condolences to the families of both troopers.