10 Jan 2003

Steelworkers Union Hit With Federal Charges For Violating Worker’s Rights

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Lancaster, Pa. (January 10, 2003) – Aided by attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an employee of NTN-BCA, filed federal charges against the steelworkers union for illegally forcing him to pay union fees without providing a list of chargeable activities.

William Thompson, a non-union member, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) Local 1035.

“Union officials’ increasing disregard for workers’ rights demonstrates the corruption and arrogance that flows from the federal policy of compulsory unionism,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Without the protection of a Right to Work law, Pennsylvania workers are largely at the mercy of union bosses.”

Thompson charges Local 1035 officials have refused to accommodate his request to provide Thompson with a complete breakdown of how the union fee is calculated.

The USWA union’s actions violate the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision. Under Beck, workers are allowed to resign from formal union membership and halt and reclaim the portion of forced union dues spent on activities unrelated to collective bargaining, such as union politics, organizing, and public relations. Union officials must provide workers a list of activities they claim they can compel non-members to subsidize.

“Steelworkers union officials are trying to get away with hiding how they spend workers’ union dues,” said Gleason. “It seems they are afraid that once workers know how the union is spending their money, they will revolt.”

The NLRB is responsible for investigating the charges and will decide whether to prosecute the union for unfair labor practices.

8 Jan 2003

Machinists Union Hit With Federal Charges For Violating Raytheon Worker’s Rights

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Pensacola, Fla. (January 8, 2003) – With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an employee of Raytheon Aerospace LLC today filed federal charges against the machinists union for illegally forcing him to pay full union dues, including dues spent for politics.

Robert Prime, a non-union member, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union, IAM District Lodge 75, and IAM Local Lodge 2777.

“In an effort to amass a political warchest, the union’s officials are demanding that workers shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.

Since July 2002 employees at the Pensacola facility have been forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment. However, the workers never received timely notice of their right to refrain from formal union membership and pay only for activities directly related to collective bargaining.

In October, Prime notified IAM union officials that he expected them to respect his rights as a non-member and reduce his fees to cover only the cost of collective bargaining. Prime also wants the unions to retroactively refund any portion of his union fee that was used to finance activities unrelated to collective bargaining, including support for lobbying and other political activities. The unions have so far refused to make a retroactive refund.

The actions of IAM union officials violate the workers’ rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck and subsequent NLRB rulings, unions must specifically inform employees of their right to refrain from formal, full dues-paying union membership and of their right to pay a reduced fee to cover only the union’s collective bargaining costs.

The Raytheon controversy is somewhat unique, since Florida has a highly popular Right to Work law that bans compulsory unionism. However, because Raytheon’s employees work on federal property under exclusive federal jurisdiction, the state’s Right to Work law does not protect them.

“The abusive actions of IAM union officials show why most Florida workers are fortunate to have the protections of a Right to Work Law,” said Gleason.

3 Jan 2003

Ohio Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban on Discriminatory Union-Only Contracting

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Cleveland, Ohio (January 2, 2003) — In an unprecedented decision, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the state’s Open Contracting Act, a state law that bans government-mandated union-only contracts, or project labor agreements (PLAs), on government construction projects.

In the case of Ohio State Building & Construction Trades Council v. Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners, the elected judges threw out the Open Contracting Act, saying that the Ohio legislature’s effort to protect non-union employees from discrimination is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation urges Ohio’s new attorney general to appeal the court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation participated as an amicus curiae in support of the Open Contracting Act. Foundation attorneys argued that the state legislature had the right not to finance with public construction funds a form of compulsory unionism. Ohio’s intermediate appellate court had used the Foundation’s arguments to uphold the law in its now reversed ruling. Foundation attorneys plan to file a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners, if the Ohio attorney general appeals.

“The Ohio Supreme Court has gone out on a limb in order to put the power of union bosses ahead of Ohio’s workers and taxpayers,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “PLAs are nothing more than a shakedown — union officials use them to demand taxpayer handouts and government-granted special privileges in exchange for not ordering strikes or causing other disruptions.”

A PLA is a scheme that requires all contractors, whether they are unionized or not, to subject themselves and their employees to unionization in order to work on government-funded construction projects. PLAs usually require contractors to grant union officials monopoly bargaining privileges over all workers; use exclusive union hiring halls; force workers to pay dues as a condition of employment; and pay above-market prices resulting from wasteful work rules and featherbedding.

After the Ohio legislature passed the Open Contacting Act in 1999, union lawyers sued the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners to retain forced unionism on all state construction projects. In October 1999, a trial court permanently enjoined enforcement of the law. An Ohio appellate court later reversed the lower court’s decision, ruling that the NLRA does not prohibit states from banning government-mandated discriminatory, union-only PLAs, on government construction projects.

2 Jan 2003

Teamsters Union at Universal Studios Hit With Federal Charges For Violating Worker’s Rights

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Los Angeles, Calif. (January 2, 2003) – Aided by attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Universal Studios theme park worker Hyo Lim filed federal charges against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 399 for failing to provide an account of how the union is spending his forced union dues.

The unfair labor practice charges, filed at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), charge Teamsters Local 399 officials with requiring resigning members to submit themselves to unlawful internal objection procedures. Those procedures threaten workers with higher union fees and even force Universal to fire the workers if they decline to pay that increased fee.

“The Teamsters union’s increasing disregard for workers’ rights demonstrates the corruption that flows from the federal policy of compulsory unionism,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The union hierarchy is determined to keep workers’ forced union dues flowing into their coffers through any means necessary.”

Lim’s charges state that, after filing for resignation from the union, Local 399 officials continue to illegally deduct full union fees from his paycheck without providing the explanation of how the fee was calculated required by the U.S. Supreme Court. Additionally, Lim contends that union officials have not provided an independent audit of how they spend union fees. The financial information the Teamsters International provided is compromised by the union’s use of a corrupt accounting firm, Thomas Havey, LLP.

In recent months, top partners at the Havey firm pleaded guilty to federal crimes, including aiding a conspiracy to commit fraud against the United States by concealing almost two million dollars in union entertainment expenditures on government disclosure forms.

The Teamsters union’s actions violate the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows workers to resign from formal union membership and halt and reclaim the portion of forced union dues spent on activities unrelated to collective bargaining, such as union politics.

“Teamsters union officials are trying to get away with hiding how they spend workers’ union dues,” said Gleason. “It seems they are afraid that once workers know how the union is spending their money, they will revolt.”

20 Dec 2002

Statement of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Regarding DOL announcement that it will seek to improve union discl

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Springfield, Va. (December 20, 2002)Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an organization that defends employees suffering from the abuses of compulsory unionism, issued the following statement regarding this afternoon’s announcement by the Department of Labor (DOL) that it will promulgate new LM-2 union disclosure requirements.

“Employees deserve to know how union officials spend their compulsory union dues, and the 40 year old disclosure forms have failed to provide any meaningful information. However, although providing more functional and thorough financial disclosure to rank-and-file workers would be a small step forward, much more needs to be done before rampant union corruption is deterred.

“If the proposed LM-2 reforms do not include an independent audit requirement or an itemization requirement for expenses beyond simply incidental expenses, then this entire DOL exercise will be meaningless.

“Currently, unions have no requirement that they conduct an independent audit of union books and records, and we fear that the proposed LM-2 reforms do not change this pathetic fact.

“But ultimately, only ending compulsory unionism will force union officials to be accountable. Elimination of compulsory union dues will return power to employees to discipline their unions by withholding dues that underwrite the all-expense-paid lifestyles and political activism of union bosses.

“As Senator John McClellan (D-AR), key architect of the original Landrum-Griffith Act more than 40 years ago, said, ‘compulsory unionism and corruption go hand in hand.'”

16 Dec 2002

Settlement Requires Refund of an Estimated $5,000,000 in Illegally Seized Union Dues From LA Home Care Workers

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. (December 16, 2002) — Union defendants to a civil rights lawsuit filed by Los Angeles County home care providers have agreed to return an estimated $5 million in illegally seized union dues taken from 60,000 non-union home care providers and spent for politics and other non-bargaining activities.

Enjoying free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, Carla West and three other home care providers filed the class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 434B, the Personal Assistance Services Council (PASC) of Los Angeles County, and Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

The court recently dismissed arguments that Local 434B’s entire contract with PASC that imposes union affiliation on home care workers who do not desire union representation – and in many cases had never even heard of the union – was unconstitutional. However, in settling other constitutional claims in the home care workers’ civil rights lawsuit, SEIU has agreed to return forced union dues illegally seized from 60,000 workers who were not formal union members.

The union had failed to follow the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers v. Hudson, which requires unions to provide objecting employees an audited disclosure and advance reduction of forced union dues used for politics and other non-bargaining activities. After months of stonewalling, the SEIU produced an audit showing that a mere 48 percent of union dues is spent for collective bargaining.

“Even though the union must now cough up upwards of $5 million in illegally seized dues, the state of California should not have forced independent home care workers into union collectives in the first place,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Years ago, union operatives set their sights on California’s home care subsidy program as a major cash cow. Now California taxpayers must pay tens of millions of dollars that are laundered through the program and dumped into union coffers.”

The AFL-CIO has hailed the forced unionization of the 80,000 home care providers as organized labor’s single largest organizing victory ever. Sacramento and San Diego counties and, more recently, Oregon and Washington State, have since adopted virtually identical schemes.

In 1999, Local 434B officials gained recognition by PASC as the exclusive bargaining agents of home care workers who provide non-medical in-home support services to disabled low-income clients. Although they are reimbursed through the state, the workers are independently hired, fired, and supervised by individual recipients of home care. The constitutionally suspect agreement brokered between union operatives and government bureaucrats declares home care providers are “public employees” for collective bargaining purposes only and has no bearing on hiring, firing, work schedules, workplace safety, and disputes with the employer recipient.

16 Dec 2002

Worker Slaps Machinist Union With Federal Charges For Assessing Illegal Retaliatory Fine

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East Hartford, Conn. (December 16, 2002) – With the help of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, mechanic Paul Longo filed federal charges last week against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union for socking him with a confiscatory fine simply for honoring his commitments to his employer during a union-ordered strike at Pratt and Whitney’s East Hartford plant.

The charges filed by Longo ask the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to prosecute IAM Local 1746 for refusing to recognize Longo’s resignation and for fining him $1,800 for working during the strike.

“IAM union officials have tried to make an example of Paul Longo so that all employees think twice before defying union edicts,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This sort of intimidation shows union bosses viciously trample workers’ rights in order to preserve their own power.”

During a strike at the Pratt and Whitney plant in December 2001, Longo decided to resign his IAM union membership in order to continue working. Upon officially notifying the union of his resignation, Longo returned to his job the following day. The NLRB recognizes an employee as having officially resigned a day after the union has been notified.

Yet, in August 2002, Longo learned that the union had ignored his resignation and imposed a steep fine for violating the IAM union by-laws concerning strike rules that apply only to members. The fine prompted Longo to contact Foundation attorneys who assisted him in filing charges with the NLRB.

The federal charges state that attempting to impose a fine violated his rights under the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court case NLRB v. Textile Workers, which specifically forbade such action by union officials.

“The arrogance of the IAM union brass is appalling,” said Gleason. “Union officials simply do not have the right to fine workers who are not formal union members.”

During strikes, workers that choose to continue working often become the targets of retaliatory fines, lawsuits, and even violence. These types of harassment and terror are meant to keep rank-and-file union members in line with the mandates of the union hierarchy.

13 Dec 2002

Van Heusen Employee Hits Teamsters Union with Unfair Labor Practice Charges

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Chattanooga, Tenn. (December 12, 2002) — With the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a Van Heusen Company employee, Sheila Elliot today filed charges against the Teamsters union for illegally discriminating against non-union members.

Elliot, a non-union member, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Teamsters Local Union 515 and Van Heusen. As part of their contract Teamsters officials have forced Van Heusen to favor employees who are union members over non-union employees for both hiring and job assignments.

“Teamsters union bosses are using these tactics to try and force workers to pay union dues in order to get or keep a job,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is a clear assault on Tennessee’s Right to Work Law, which is intended to free workers from this type of abuse.”

Under the state’s highly popular and effective Right to Work law non-union employees are freed from paying membership dues to an unwanted union as a condition of employment.

In addition to discriminating against non-union members, as part of their contract with the Teamsters union, Van Heusen is required to encourage all associate employees to become and remain full union members. In addition, Van Heusen must refer all new associates to a Teamsters union representative.

Both of these tactics are used to coerce workers into joining the union and violate the rights of workers to refrain from union activities. In helping Elliot file the charges, Foundation attorneys are seeking to have both provisions of the contract thrown out by the NLRB.

“These workers should be able to decide for themselves if they want to join the union, without being forced into it by Teamsters union bosses,” said Gleason.

10 Dec 2002

Statement Of National Right To Work Foundation Regarding Court Ruling Upholding Utah’s Voluntary Contributions Act

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Salt Lake City, Utah (December 10, 2002) – The following is a statement of Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the organization that provided free legal aid to Utah public employees attempting to limit the infringement of their rights under government-imposed compulsory unionism.

“This week’s ruling by the Third District Court to uphold the core of Utah’s recently enacted “Voluntary Contributions Act” (VCA) gives union members a measure of comfort that they have a right to object to the portion of their union dues spent for politics and other non-collective bargaining activity. The court relied on a long line of Foundation-won Supreme Court cases that limit the use of union dues spent on unwanted union politics.

“However, the court missed a major opportunity to solve the fundamental cause of abuse by Utah’s government union officials – monopoly bargaining power.

“Monopoly bargaining is the premier union special privilege, granted or allowed by federal law and the laws of many states. It forces individual employees at unionized workplaces to accept union “representation” – even if they don’t want it.

“National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys intervened in the case on behalf of state employees to defend the statute and to argue that monopoly bargaining is unconstitutional for all Utah’s government employees because of its inherent infringements on their rights to free speech and association.

“Even though Utah has a highly popular and effective Right to Work law that enables nonunion employees to pay no dues whatsoever to an unwanted union, the still-intact monopoly bargaining privilege forces employees to accept the rigid terms of “one size fits all” union-brokered contracts – contracts that tend to punish the best and most productive employees.

“This bars all employees – even union objectors – from individually negotiating over the terms of their own employment. And using their monopoly bargaining privilege, union officials refuse to allow non-union members any input into workplace issues that directly affect them. Monopoly bargaining often leaves employees who don’t support the union’s ideological agenda with an intolerable choice: Join the unwanted union and pay dues or give up their workplace voice.

“Unfortunately, Utah’s VCA law leaves monopoly bargaining – the very root of forced unionism – intact. Meanwhile, as recent history has shown, attempts to merely regulate the misuse of employees’ dues for political activities have utterly failed in other states.

“Ending the ability of union officials to impose their “representation” on non-consenting employees would – unlike Utah’s Voluntary Contributions Act – tear out compulsory unionism from the root and fully restore employees’ individual rights.”

3 Dec 2002

Worker Rights Advocate Comments on Resignation of AFL-CIO President From Scandal-Plagued ULLICO Board

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Washington, D.C. (December 3, 2002) – The following statement was released by National Right to Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason regarding AFL-CIO President John Sweeney’s decision to resign from the board of directors of the Union Labor Life Insurance Company (ULLICO) after the board refused to release Governor Jim Thompson’s report on insider stock sales:

“While it’s encouraging to see John Sweeney now expressing outrage about the actions of the ULLICO board of directors, where was his outrage when the insider trading originally took place” As a member of the board, Sweeney ratified the insider stock plan that enabled top union officials to make significant personal profits at the expense of workers and union pension funds invested in ULLICO.

“The frenzy by ULLICO’s president and officers to block the release of Governor James R. Thompson Jr.’s internal investigation suggests that the criminal wrongdoing by top union presidents may have been even more pervasive than originally suspected. If these individuals are threatened by an internal report prepared by a governor who was widely known to be a union partisan, then we can only imagine how damning the full truth may be.

“The federal grand jury should hand down its indictments, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) should get moving on its investigation of unfair labor practice charges filed by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys against ULLICO and its union directors.”