Yesterday the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed an amicus curiae brief in the case David Smith & Donald Lambrecht v. Wolf currently before the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. The brief is filed in support of homecare providers challenging an executive order signed by Gov. Wolf forcing providers across the state into union monopoly bargaining ranks.
The brief argues that Gov. Wolf exceeded his executive powers by creating, by fiat, a new forced unionism mandatory bargaining system for homecare providers in Pennsylvania. The brief explains that Gov. Wolf’s executive order is illegal and beyond the Governor’s authority because, among other reasons, the Pennsylvania Public Employee Relations Act (PERA) establishes the parameters of permissible bargaining with regards to the Commonwealth.
The executive order in question, 2015-05, is nearly identical to a 2010 executive order by former Gov. Rendell that was rescinded after a court challenge. Both executive orders sought unilaterally to force an entire class of private employee which is paid in part through Medicaid type programs into a forced unionism situation by mandating a monopoly bargaining “representative.”
To view a copy of the brief please click here.
On March 10th, a group of independent drivers gathered national media attention when they filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle, seeking to block the City Council bill instituting forced unionism on independent driver contractors. The drivers’ lawsuit argues that the Council bill is an infringement on their First Amendment rights as well as being preempted by the federal National Labor Relations Act.
These drivers are being represented by staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Freedom Foundation. Below is a selection of media coverage about the Foundation’s efforts to protect the individual liberty of all the ride-sharing workers. To read the full article please click on the hyperlinked title of each publication. To read the Foundation’s press release about the lawsuit please click here.
Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal
Law 360 – Eleven independent drivers sued the city of Seattle in federal court Friday claiming its new ordinance allowing for-hire drivers for Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing apps to unionize is unconstitutional and unfairly forces all drivers to comply with terms set by designated unions just to use the app.
Seattle Times – In a federal lawsuit, the drivers are seeking a temporary restraining order barring the city from enforcing the law — the first of its kind in the country — saying it goes against federal labor and privacy laws, as well as violates their rights to free speech and association.
Wall Street Journal –Seattle also is a crucial test case for millions of so-called gig economy workers who make deliveries, run errands and perform other freelance tasks as contractors. Uber and startups like delivery company Postmates Inc. and errands service TaskRabbit Inc. have withstood pressure to treat their contract workers as employees, thereby avoiding payment of full benefits or compensation for expenses like gasoline.
Reuters – The 11 drivers, represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, said in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle on Friday that the city’s law violates their rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by forcing them to join a union in order to work, and is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act.
KIRO TV – “It’s freedom, it’s the way of life these days if you want to be entrepreneur and own your own business. Be your own boss, manage your own life,” said driver Tianna Williamson.
Forbes – The Seattle ordinance also raises fundamental questions about the nature of work and employment, and the fairness of labor laws forged in the industrial era when they are applied to gig-economy workers.
Union bosses sought to impose coercive in-person ID requirement on workers seeking to exercise the right to stop paying union fees
Springfield, VA (February 15, 2017) – With legal representation provided by attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a Michigan worker has won a battle against illegal barriers created by union officials seeking to restrict workers from resigning their union membership and exercising their rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law.
In October 2014, after Michigan’s new Right to Work law went into effect, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 58 union officials imposed a new policy governing the procedures for resigning formal union membership and revoking dues checkoff. These procedures demanded that resignations take place in person at the Local 58 union hall in Detroit, Michigan, where the worker would have to present photo identification and a corresponding written resignation and/or dues checkoff revocation.
After the policy was implemented, Ryan Greene, a worker who lives several hours away from the IBEW Local 58 union hall, decided to exercise his right to resign his formal union membership and revoke his dues checkoff authorization. Upon encountering the restrictive policy created by Local 58 union officials, Greene filed a federal Unfair Labor Practice charge with the NLRB alleging that the new policy was unlawful and violated the rights of workers as guaranteed in the National Labor Relations Act.
The ULP charge argued that forcing workers to appear in person with a photo ID violated workers’ rights by illegally hindering their right to resign at any time from the union and to revoke dues checkoff authorizations.
The regional General Counsel for the NLRB investigated and issued a complaint. The administrative law judge who heard the case dismissed the complaint, but the Foundation staff attorneys appealed to the full NLRB for Greene.
After the briefing concluded, the NLRB issued a 2-1 decision determining that the policy set by Local 58 officials infringed on workers rights. The Board’s opinion rules that the policy was an illegal restriction placed by the union on the members’ rights to resign and revoke, because it imposes a significant burden on exercising those rights.
“This case is just another example of union officials’ campaign to prevent the workers they claim to ‘represent’ from exercising their rights under the state’s popular new Right to Work law,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Instead of cooking up schemes to trap workers into paying union dues, union officials should ask themselves why they are so afraid of giving workers a choice when it comes to union membership and dues payment.”
Since Michigan enacted its Right to Work law in 2012, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have successfully worked to defend the law against union challenges and assist workers in exercising their right under the law to resign from union membership and stop all payment of union dues and fees. Since the law was enacted, Foundation attorneys have filed some 28 legal actions for Michigan workers seeking to exercise their rights as protected by Right to Work.
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.