USC Verdugo Hills workers’ vote to oust union certified by Labor Board after union’s lawyers ignore rules to challenge outcome
Los Angeles, CA (February 15, 2019) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Regional Director in Los Angeles has rejected union officials’ objections to USC Verdugo Hills Hospital employees’ election to remove the union as their monopoly bargaining representatives. The NLRB Regional Director ordered that the result of the election, in which a majority of the workers voted to oust the union, be certified.
After Andrew Brown, a surgical buyer, and his coworkers at USC Verdugo Hills in Glendale, California, successfully held a decertification election to remove the unwanted Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU), union officials tried to challenge the employees’ 118-107 victory. However, the NLRB Regional Director ruled that SEIU officials failed to follow the proper procedures by not serving their objections on all parties, as required by NLRB rules.
Ironically, SEIU lawyers had blocked an earlier petition filed by Brown for a decertification election on the grounds that, although he followed the misleading language on the NLRB’s website, his petition was technically filed two days late.
In October 2018, Brown petitioned for a vote to remove the SEIU as monopoly bargaining agent for him and his coworkers. Despite having followed the NLRB website’s instructions on union decertification petitions, including collecting signatures from over 30 percent of his colleagues as required, union officials claimed Brown’s decertification petition was untimely.
Brown then sought free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys to request a review. Foundation staff attorneys asked the NLRB to overturn the Regional Director’s decision and permit Brown and his coworkers to vote on whether to oust the union. Before an appeal of the decision to reject the petition as untimely could be ruled on by the NLRB, it was made moot by a subsequent petition for a decertification vote that was clearly timely under the Board’s rules.
The NLRB conducted a secret ballot decertification election in January, in which a majority of the workers voted to remove the union. After the SEIU’s objections were denied by the NLRB Regional Director as untimely, the Regional Director issued an order officially certifying the election results.
“We congratulate Mr. Brown and his colleagues on exercising their right to remove an unwanted union,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “However, this vote would have taken place months earlier without the red tape and restrictions hindering independent-minded employees and tipping the scales in favor of union bosses’ gamesmanship. This shows that union officials should spend less energy trying to trap workers and instead focus on respecting the wishes and needs of the employees they claim to ‘represent.’”
Judge Rules Southwest Flight Attendant’s Federal Lawsuit Against Airline and Union for Illegal Firing Will Continue
Flight attendant was fired after voicing her religious and political beliefs, including opposition to union leadership and support of Right to Work
Dallas, TX (February 11, 2019) – A federal judge has ordered that Southwest Airlines flight attendant Charlene Carter’s lawsuit against her employer and a union will continue, ruling that Carter’s charges are sufficient to establish a case that she was fired for voicing her religious and political beliefs, including her support of a National Right to Work law.
Carter filed her lawsuit with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys against Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) and Transport Workers Union of America (TWUA) Local 556. Although Southwest and TWUA Local 556 attempted to have her charges dismissed, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas has ruled that her lawsuit will continue.
As a Southwest employee, Carter joined TWUA 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, such as abortion.
Carter resigned from union membership but was still forced to pay fees to TWUA Local 556 as a condition of her employment. State Right to Work laws do 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 it does protect the rights of employees to remain nonmembers 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 TWUA Local 556 Executive Board, including its president, Audrey Stone.
Carter’s pleadings describe how, in the year leading up to the lawsuit, Southwest subjected 13 supporters of the recall campaign to disciplinary measures, including fact-findings, suspension, and even termination of employment, many times at the request of TWUA Local 556 members and officials.
The lawsuit alleges that, in contrast, when complaints were filed against the Executive Board’s supporters for their social media activity, including 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 TWUA 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 alleges that Southwest knew of the TWUA Local 556 activities and participation in the Women’s March and helped accommodate TWUA Local 556 members wishing to attend 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.
Shortly thereafter, in February 2017, Carter received an email from TWUA Local 556 urging her to oppose a National Right to Work Bill. Carter responded 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 presented Carter screenshots of her pro-life posts and messages and questioned why she did 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 TWUA Local 556 members purported to be representing all Southwest flight attendants. Southwest authorities told Carter that President Stone claimed to be harassed by these messages.
A week after this meeting, Southwest fired Carter. Southwest said she violated its “Workplace Bullying and Hazing Policy” and “Social Media Policy,” because her pro-life Facebook posts were “highly offensive” and her Facebook messages to President Stone were “harassing and inappropriate.” Prior to her termination Carter had never received any discipline in her 20-year career with Southwest.
In 2017, Carter filed her federal lawsuit with help from Foundation staff attorneys to challenge the firing as an abuse of her rights, alleging she lost her job because she stood up to TWUA Local 556 and criticized the union for its political activities and how it spent employees’ money.
Southwest and TWUA Local 556 moved to dismiss her claims, but 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 TWUA Local 556 discriminated against her religious beliefs by complaining about her pro-life messages in order to get Southwest to fire her, but 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 in this lawsuit would send a strong message that this type of abuse of union monopoly power will not go unchallenged, but 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.
Worker Advocate: Supreme Court Should Hear Case Over Wisconsin Right to Work Law’s Limit on Union “Window Period” Schemes
National Right to Work Foundation asks High Court to reconsider precedent blocking states from protecting workers’ right to cut off union payments
Springfield, VA (February 7, 2019) – The National Right to Work Foundation has submitted an amicus curiae brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a writ of certiorari in a case involving a union’s challenge to part of Wisconsin’s Right to Work Law that allows workers to cut off dues payments at any time with 30 days notice. The State of Wisconsin filed its cert petition in Allen v. International Association of Machinists in January asking the Supreme Court to take the case.
Wisconsin’s Right to Work Law, passed in 2015, makes union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary. That fundamental aspect of the law remains in effect after a separate union legal challenge to that aspect failed and is not part of the case that the Supreme Court has been asked to hear.
To ensure workers could exercise their Right to Work, a provision in the law allows employees to revoke their authorization for union officials to deduct union dues or fees at any time and requires that union officials stop these unauthorized deductions within 30 days. The provision protects workers from “window period” schemes often enforced by union officials to limit workers from revoking authorization for dues or fee deductions except for a few days annually.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that this part of the statute is preempted by federal law. The Seventh Circuit’s ruling relied on the Supreme Court’s Sea Pak v. Industrial, Technical, & Professional Employees decision issued in 1971, which the state of Wisconsin is now asking the High Court to revisit.
The Foundation’s amicus brief asks the High Court to review the Seventh Circuit’s decision because federal law allows Wisconsin to protect employees from forced payments, including from union-created limitations on cutting off dues.
As the amicus brief notes, Congress left the final decision about whether to permit, outlaw, or limit compulsory unionism to individual states under Section 14(b) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This includes allowing states to set a stricter standard for when union officials must halt unauthorized dues or fees deductions than the after one year maximum prescribed by the NLRA.
“Time and again, Big Labor has concocted ways to seize unauthorized dues and fees from workers’ wages through ‘window period’ schemes and other underhanded tactics,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The Foundation’s amicus curiae brief advances the widely accepted common-sense argument that Wisconsin and other states should be allowed to create additional protections for workers from compulsory unionism.”
Michigan Civil Servants Successfully Halt Union Bosses’ Harassment and Illegal Demands for Coerced Union Dues
MEA union officials quickly settle: rather than litigate, union will recognize workers’ union membership resignations and stop threats over union dues
Lansing, Michigan (February 5, 2019) – A federal class action lawsuit brought by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys for two Michigan public school employees against the Michigan Education Association (MEA) has ended in a settlement. Thanks to the settlement, the workers are now free from years of MEA officials’ harassment over forced union dues that the workers did not owe.
Plaintiffs Linda Gervais and Tammy Williams, who both worked for the Port Huron Area School District, filed against the MEA after union officials spent years attempting to obtain union membership dues from the two workers even though they were not union members.
Gervais and Williams exercised their rights by resigning their union memberships in September 2013, approximately nine months after Michigan enacted Right to Work legislation that protects workers from being forced to pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment. Despite the resignations and the statute, MEA officials continued to demand that they pay dues for a period after their resignations.
As part of the MEA campaign to collect the dues, union agents contacted Gervais and Williams dozens of times demanding hundreds of dollars’ worth of back dues that the women were under no legal obligation to pay. Union agents even threatened to take both women to small claims court for their failure to pay the demanded fees.
MEA officials claimed that Gervais and Williams missed the “window period” to cut off union payments. However, in a 2014 case brought by Foundation staff attorneys, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed a Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) decision striking down that “window period” scheme as illegal under Michigan’s public sector Right to Work law.
Gervais and Williams sought free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys to challenge the union officials’ demands. Their lawsuit applied the protections under the June U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Foundation-won case Janus v. AFSCME.
The landmark Janus decision ruled that a union violates the First Amendment by demanding or coercing public employees to pay union dues or fees without their explicit consent. Citing that ruling, Gervais and Williams’ federal class action lawsuit sought an end to the unions’ demands, for themselves and other workers who faced, or continue to face, similar demands, along with refunds for all workers who paid the dues MEA agents illegally demanded.
Rather than face National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys in court, the MEA entered into a settlement under which the union will recognize and accept the two workers’ resignations and will cease demanding and attempting to collect union membership dues. Additionally, MEA officials will stop demanding union dues from all other individuals who notify them within twelve months of the settlement that they resigned their union membership after Michigan’s Right to Work Law took effect on March 28, 2013.
Michigan employees who labored under the monopoly bargaining representation of MEA and who believe they may be covered by the settlement are encouraged to contact the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal assistance in exercising their rights at www.nrtw.org/free-legal-aid or by calling the Foundation toll-free at 1-800-336-3600.
“This is a great example for other workers who are victims of Big Labor’s coercive tactics,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “As the union bosses’ attempt to counteract Michigan’s Right to Work law demonstrates, although union membership and financial support is voluntary under the law, that doesn’t mean Big Labor will obey that law. Thankfully, armed with the Foundation-won Janus Supreme Court decision, Linda and Tammy successfully halted this multi-year campaign of illegal dues demands for themselves and countless other educators.”
Since Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed Right to Work legislation into state law in December 2012, Foundation staff attorneys have litigated more than 100 cases in Michigan to combat compulsory unionism. Foundation staff attorneys are also pursuing dozens of other cases across the country since the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus.
Michigan Workers Pursue Federal Unfair Labor Practice Charges against Unions for Illegal Dues Seizures
Grand Rapids worker files NLRB charge against Teamsters, while Dearborn worker wins settlement with Ford Motor Company in ongoing case with UAW
Grand Rapids, MI (January 29, 2019) – A Michigan worker has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys because his employer has continued unlawfully deducting union dues from his paycheck for union officials, even after he instructed the union to cease taking dues from his wages.
Parnell White, employed as a driver by Head Start of Kent County in Walker, Michigan, sent a letter to International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 406 in Grand Rapids, resigning his union membership and revoking his authorization for Teamsters union officials to deduct any further union membership dues.
The letter was received by union officials on November 27, 2018, during the union’s prescribed annual 15-day “window period” to revoke dues authorization. However, the union refused to acknowledge his letter, and dues continue to be taken out of White’s paycheck and received by union officials without his permission.
White’s charge alleges that the union officials’ actions violate his rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Those illegal actions are preventing him from enjoying the protections of Michigan’s Right to Work Law which prohibits union officials from forcing workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.
This charge is similar to another ongoing case in Dearborn, Michigan. There Lloyd Stoner filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB against the United Auto Workers (UAW) union and his employer, the Ford Motor Company, with free legal assistance from Foundation staff attorneys.
UAW union officials refused to acknowledge Stoner’s March 2018 request to stop all deductions of union dues from his paycheck. Instead, his employer continued to take union dues from his hard-earned wages and continued sending the dues to the union.
Earlier this month, Stoner won a settlement with Ford Motor Company, although the charge against UAW is still outstanding. Along with other conditions, Ford will refund any outstanding deducted dues with interest to Stoner. The company also must post public notices to employees informing them of their rights to abstain from supporting union activities. The case against the UAW continues.
“Union officials have repeatedly refused to respect workers’ legal rights in the Great Lakes State, as demonstrated by the more than 100 cases workers have filed in Michigan since Right to Work was enacted there six years ago,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Rather than win the voluntary support of rank-and-file workers, in their efforts to stuff their pockets Michigan union bosses continue to systematically violate the rights of the very workers they claim to represent.”
Ohio Union Bosses Back Down from Class Action Lawsuit Challenging “Window Period” Scheme Designed to Block Workers’ Janus Rights
AFSCME union officials quickly settle: rather than litigate, will stop enforcing unconstitutional policy and refund to workers blocked from stopping forced dues
Columbus, Ohio (January 24, 2019) – A federal First Amendment lawsuit brought by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys for a group of Ohio public sector employees against American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Ohio Council 8 has forced union officials to settle.
The settlement won by the workers ends union officials’ “window period” policy that blocked thousands of workers from exercising their constitutional right to refrain from financially supporting the union. The workers, and others who had attempted to cut off dues but were blocked from doing so in violation of their First Amendment rights, will be refunded the money taken under the union-created window policy.
The class action complaint was filed by Foundation staff attorneys for Jothan Smith, Adam Scheiner, Brian Parks, Annette Lipsky, Steven Fletcher, Michael Cooper, and Tracey Baird, who are employed by various local Ohio government agencies.
Following the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court, the workers all attempted to resign their union membership and revoke their dues deduction authorizations. However, AFSCME officials continued to deduct dues, citing a union policy restricting revocation of dues deduction to a narrow 15-day window prior to the expiration of a monopoly bargaining contract.
In Janus, the Court ruled that it violates the First Amendment to require government workers to pay any union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Additionally, the Court clarified that no union dues or fees can be taken from workers without their affirmative consent and knowing waiver of their First Amendment right not to financially support a labor union.
The workers came to Foundation staff attorneys to file a lawsuit challenging the “window period” policy as unconstitutional, because the policy limits when they – and the thousands of other workers under AFSCME Council 8’s monopoly bargaining control – can exercise their First Amendment rights under Janus and allows union officials to collect union dues without the workers’ affirmative consent.
Rather than face Foundation staff attorneys in court, AFSCME Council 8 union officials settled the lawsuit. Under the settlement’s terms, the union will stop enforcing policies restricting dues deduction revocations to a 15-day window at the end of a monopoly bargaining agreement. AFSCME will refund to the plaintiffs all union dues they unconstitutionally collected after the plaintiffs notified union officials that they no longer consented to financially supporting the union. Union officials will also identify any other workers whose rights were blocked by the “window period” policy, honor their requests to resign and revoke dues deduction authorization, and refund the dues deducted under the policy.
This is the first settlement of a class action lawsuit under Janus in which workers have halted a union “window period” policy. The first successful challenge to a “window period” policy came in another recent settlement negotiated by Foundation staff attorneys in a non-class action lawsuit.
Many other public employees across the country are pursuing similar lawsuits with assistance from Foundation staff attorneys. For example, in one ongoing class action lawsuit, two New Jersey public school teachers are challenging a state law that imposes a ‘window period” policy to block public sector workers’ attempts to exercise their rights under Janus. All told, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys are litigating more than 20 cases nationwide to enforce public employees’ rights under the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling.
“This group of workers bravely challenged union bosses’ ‘window period’ scheme, and successfully protected not only their rights but also the rights of tens of thousands of their colleagues,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This first-in-the-nation victory in a class action case to enforce workers’ rights under Janus should be the first of many cases that result in union bosses dropping their illegal restrictions on workers seeking to exercise their rights secured in the Foundation’s Janus Supreme Court victory.”
To inform workers of their legal rights under Janus, and ensure they know they can turn to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal aid if union officials attempt to obstruct them from exercising those rights, the Foundation maintains a special website: MyJanusRights.org.
UTLA Union Hit with Class Action Lawsuit from Los Angeles Teacher to Halt Unconstitutional Forced Dues Policy
Union officials violate hundreds of teachers’ constitutional rights under the Supreme Court Janus decision through “window period” scheme
Los Angeles, CA (January 23, 2019) – With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, a Los Angeles public school teacher is challenging the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union officials’ illegal “window period” scheme to forcibly seize union membership dues from her paycheck without her consent and in violation of her constitutional rights.
Plaintiff Irene Seager, a public school teacher at Porter Ranch Community School, filed the class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against the UTLA, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the Attorney General of California.
Seager became a UTLA union member and signed a dues deduction authorization form in April 2018, when to keep her job she was required to choose between paying full union dues as a member or forced union fees as a nonmember. However, following the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME ruling in June 2018 which made such payments for teachers and other public employees voluntary, she attempted to exercise her First Amendment rights by resigning her union membership and stopping dues payments.
In Janus, argued and won by Foundation staff attorneys, the Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to require government workers to pay any union dues and fees as a condition of employment. Additionally, the Court clarified that no union dues or fees can be taken from workers without their affirmative consent and knowing waiver of their First Amendment right not to financially support a labor union.
However, UTLA union officials never informed Seager of her First Amendment rights when she originally signed her dues deduction authorization, making it impossible for her to have knowingly waived those rights as required by Janus. Even after Seager resigned her union membership and made it clear in a letter sent to the union weeks after Janus that she does not consent to dues deductions, union officials continue seizing membership dues from her hard-earned wages. Union officials claim that Seager can only cut off dues deductions during a union-created 30-day “window period” each year.
Seager’s class action lawsuit asks the court to strike down this unlawful “window period” scheme and order union officials to stop deducting unauthorized dues. Additionally, the lawsuit challenges a California state law which allows the union to enforce the restrictive “window period” policy.
Her complaint also seeks a refund of membership dues that were wrongfully taken from her and hundreds, if not thousands, of other teachers subjected to UTLA’s unconstitutional policy.
“Ms. Seager’s case shows that union bosses are willing to trample on the First Amendment rights of the teachers they claim to ‘represent’ to keep their forced-dues power,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Despite what union bosses say, workers’ constitutional rights cannot be limited to just 30 days out of the year. The Foundation remains vigilant to offer free legal aid to any teacher or other public sector worker who seeks to exercise their rights protected by the Supreme Court’s Janus decision.”
National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys are also providing free legal aid to a math professor with the nearby Ventura County Community School District, who is challenging a similar “window period” scheme enacted by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to block him and his colleagues from exercising their Janus rights.
The Foundation also recently released a special legal notice informing Los Angeles teachers of their rights during the UTLA-ordered teacher strike.
Workers can request free legal aid at www.nrtw.org/free-legal-aid or by calling the Foundation toll-free at 1800-336-3600.
Seattle Housekeeper Asks NLRB General Counsel to End Double Standard for Promoting Coercive ‘Card Check’ Unionization
Union organizers misled workers about their right to revoke union cards used as “votes,” while company promoted card check drive beyond Board’s “ministerial aid” exception
Washington, D.C. (January 22, 2019) – A National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorney has filed an appeal with the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) asking that the Board hear a Seattle housekeeper’s case. The case challenges UNITE HERE Local 8’s unionization of the housekeeper’s workplace. The case argues that UNITE HERE’s showing of employee support for representation, used to bypass the NLRB’s election process, is tainted.
Embassy Suites employee Gladys Bryant first filed the unfair labor practice charges after the UNITE HERE union was installed at the hotel through an oft-abused “card check” drive, which bypasses a secret ballot election. Her charges state that the results of the “card check” drive are tainted because Embassy Suites provided significant aid to union officials’ organizing efforts, and because a union official misled employees’ about their right to revoke their vote for unionization.
Bryant was hired at a new Embassy Suites hotel in March 2018. A month later, Embassy Suites announced to its new employees in a letter that they were subject to a union organizing agreement with UNITE HERE Local 8. To promote the union card check drive, Embassy Suites gave union organizers access to the hotel to meet and solicit employees. It also provided union officials with a list of all employees’ names, jobs, and contact information to assist the union in collecting authorization cards from employees.
Although Bryant did at first sign a union authorization card, she and many of her colleagues reconsidered. A union official, however, misled employees that they had to appear in person at the union hall to revoke any previously signed cards. And when Bryant made an appointment with the union official in an attempt to comply with this unlawful requirement, the union official did not show up.
After Embassy Suites recognized UNITE HERE Local 8’s monopoly bargaining “representation” over employees in May, Bryant filed charges arguing that the unionization violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
Bryant’s charges allege that Embassy Suites provided UNITE HERE’s organizing campaign with more than “ministerial aid.” The NLRB has long held that an employer taints employees’ efforts to remove a union if it gives the employees support such as providing a list of bargaining unit employees or use of company resources. Bryant’s charge argues that the same “ministerial aid” standard must also apply when an employer aids union officials’ efforts to gain monopoly bargaining power over workers.
Her charges also argue that UNITE HERE violated the NLRA by misinforming employees that they could only revoke authorization cards by going in person to the union hall. The NLRB’s “dual card” doctrine holds that to revoke an authorization card an employee must simply sign a document stating he or she does not support union representation. Thus, UNITE HERE Local 8 fatally tainted its proof of employee support for recognition by blocking employees from exercising their legal rights, either through illegal union policy or through a lie dissuading employees from revoking their cards.
In the appeal to the General Counsel, the Foundation staff attorney representing Bryant asks that the General Counsel issue a complaint on Bryant’s allegations to provide the Board with an opportunity to rule on the “ministerial aid” standard and bring consistency to its policies.
Bryant and her coworkers had collected enough signatures for a decertification vote to remove the union. However, in a separate case, the NLRB blocked their petition based on the “card check” recognition. The block was due to Lamons Gasket, a 2011 Board ruling barring decertification for one year after unionization via card check. Some Board members have noted in other recent cases that they would be willing to revisit the blocking charge policy in the future.
“This case proves that not only are union bosses willing to manipulate and ignore the rights of the workers they claim they want to ‘represent,’ their coercion often goes unchecked because of double standards in how the NLRB interprets the law,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “What qualifies as ‘ministerial assistance and support’ under the National Labor Relations Act cannot depend on whether the employer is helping outside union organizers impose unionization on workers, or assisting workers in exercising their rights to remove an unwanted union.”
“This double standard has the effect of promoting coercive union card check unionization that bypasses secret ballot elections, and it is long past time that it is ended,” added Mix.
New Hampshire State Employees File Class Action Lawsuit Against SEIU Seeking Refund of Illegally Seized Union Fees
Union officials violated civil servants’ First Amendment rights under the Supreme Court’s Janus decision by deducting unauthorized forced fees
Concord, NH (January 18, 2019) – New Hampshire state workers filed a class action lawsuit in federal court with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys stating that union officials violated their constitutional rights by forcing them to pay unauthorized union fees as a condition of employment.
State employees Patrick Doughty and Randy Severance are suing the State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire (SEIU Local 1984) in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire.
The employees are asking the court to order union officials to refund the fees seized from their wages and those of countless other New Hampshire public employees who were subjected to the same unconstitutional mandatory union payments.
For years, the state forcibly deducted union fees from the two employees’ paychecks at the behest of union officials, even though neither was a member of SEIU Local 1984, nor had they agreed to pay any union fees. The lawsuit seeks refunds of all forced fees seized by the union going back at least three years as New Hampshire’s statute of limitations permits.
Taking union fees from Doughty and Severance without their explicit authorization violated their First Amendment rights, according to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, a case argued and won by Foundation staff attorneys in 2018. The High Court ruled in Janus that coercing civil servants into financially subsidizing a union violates their rights to free speech and free association.
The ruling also made it clear that before union officials can collect any dues or fees from them, public employees must affirmatively opt in for such payments and must knowingly waive their First Amendment right not to pay. The Supreme Court’s Janus ruling also observed that public sector unions have been “on notice” since at least the 2012 Knox v. SEIU decision – also argued and won by Foundation staff attorneys – that forced union fees were likely incompatible with the First Amendment.
“For years, New Hampshire union bosses violated the First Amendment rights of the very public employees they claimed to represent,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Just as a bank robber caught red-handed would never be allowed to keep the proceeds of such criminal behavior, union officials must also return the money they’ve pilfered from the paychecks of hundreds of thousands of workers across the country in violation of the Constitution, the supreme law of the land.”
Ventura County Professor Files Class Action Lawsuit Challenging Union “Window Period” Scheme to Unlawfully Seize Dues
Union officials violate hundreds of public workers’ constitutional rights under the Supreme Court’s Janus decision by deducting unauthorized forced dues
Los Angeles, CA (January 15, 2019) – With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a math professor from Ventura Country, California, is challenging an illegal “window period” scheme to forcibly seize union membership dues from his paycheck without his consent and in violation of his constitutional rights.
Plaintiff Michael McCain filed a class action lawsuit on Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against the American Federation of Teachers (AFT); Ventura County Federation of College Teachers, AFT Local 1828, AFL-CIO; and Ventura County Community College School District.
A public employee who works for the Ventura County Community College School District, plaintiff Michael McCain attempted to exercise his First Amendment rights by resigning his union membership following the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, a case Foundation attorneys argued and won.
The High Court ruled on June 27, 2018, that union bosses may not forcibly seize dues from public sector workers. Instead, government employees must knowingly waive their First Amendment right not to subsidize a union and affirmatively authorize deductions before union officials can collect membership dues or fees.
However, AFT union officials never informed McCain of his First Amendment rights, making it impossible for him to have waived them. Union officials continue seizing membership dues from McCain’s hard-earned wages, even after McCain resigned his union membership and made it clear in a letter sent to the union just weeks after the Janus decision that he does not consent to dues deductions. Union officials claim that McCain can only cut off dues deductions during a union-created 15-day “window period” each year.
McCain’s class action lawsuit asks the court to strike down this unlawful “window period” scheme and order union officials to stop deducting unauthorized dues. His complaint also seeks a refund of membership dues that were wrongfully taken from him and hundreds, if not thousands, of other public employees.
“Union officials have a long history of manipulating ‘window period’ schemes, arbitrary union-enacted limitations trapping workers into forced dues, and other obstacles designed to block individuals from exercising their constitutional rights,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Despite what union bosses say, First Amendments rights cannot be limited to just 15 days out of the year.”
“The Supreme Court affirmed the rights of public workers in the Foundation’s victory in Janus, but Michael’s case shows union bosses are determined to defy the High Court and continue their abusive practices,” Mix added.