25 Nov 2002

Legal Action Forces Statewide Teacher Union to Stop Harassing Religious Teacher

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Cleveland, Ohio (November 25, 2002) — Facing religious discrimination charges and embarrassing national media exposure, Ohio Education Association (OEA) union officials begrudgingly have agreed to honor the right of a Ravenna City Schools psychologist to have her union dues re-directed to charity because the union’s social advocacy violates her religious convictions.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, Kathleen Klamut filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the OEA, and its local affiliate, for refusing to accommodate her religious objections to supporting the union.

A practicing Christian, Klamut objects to having her money subsidize the union’s pro-abortion agenda. Last Fall, when she began working as a school psychologist in the Ravenna City Schools, Klamut asked to have her dues re-directed to charity – her right under the law. OEA officials refused to accommodate her, and Klamut was told the union hierarchy was planning to take legal action against her.

“No one should be forced to support an agenda they find morally objectionable,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “For the past five years, Kathleen Klamut has faced tremendous adversity simply because she wanted to do what she loves without compromising her faith.”

In 1997, while working for the Louisville School System, Klamut fought to get the OEA union and its Louisville local to recognize her religious objection. They ordered Klamut to send her money to a union-controlled organization (Carpenter/Garcia Fund) or they would refuse to honor her status as a religious objector. After a two-year struggle, Klamut was able to have her compulsory dues diverted to the American Cancer Society. However, the struggle began again when she moved to the Ravenna City Schools.

“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Union bosses around the country try to force people of faith to support their radical social agenda,” stated Gleason.

Earlier this year, the EEOC found that the National Education Association (NEA) and OEA unions have systematically discriminated against religious objectors. Another Ohio teacher, Dennis Robey, brought charges against the NEA and its state and local affiliates after they refused to honor his religious objection to supporting the union because it promotes pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality positions.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, union officials may not force any employee to support financially a union if doing so violates the employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. To avoid the conflict between an employee’s faith and a requirement to pay fees to a union he or she believes to be immoral, the law requires union officials to attempt to accommodate the employee – usually by designating a mutually acceptable charity to accept the funds.

19 Nov 2002

Port Workers Seek Injunction to Halt Agreement That Non-union Employees Lose Their Jobs

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Denver, Colo. (November 19, 2002) – Thirty employees of the Seattle-based Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) today requested an injunction to block the imminent and unlawful elimination of their jobs simply because they have not opted for union representation. Solidifying union control over vital jobs currently performed by non-union employees has emerged as a top bargaining priority for the union hierarchy, whose actions sparked a $2-billion-a-day shutdown of West Coast ports last month.

With the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the workers filed charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) for demanding that SSA take jobs away from its happily non-union employees at a Salt Lake City facility.

SSA is the largest company at the West Coast ports. The employees are responsible for tactical management of day-to-day activities and perform computerized planning work over the company’s rail, yard, and vessel functions.

By insisting that this planning work instead be performed at new facilities at the ports staffed by unionized “marine clerks” rather than non-union employees, ILWU and PMA officials are in violation of the employees’ right to refrain from unionization under federal law and Utah’s Right to Work Law. In the past, the NLRB has prosecuted this type of illegal discrimination – known as a “runaway shop.”

“The union’s illegal demands further reveal that the shutdown of West Coast ports was a naked attempt by union officials to exploit an economic crisis to expand their coercive power,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “It’s deplorable that ILWU officials would take action to cripple America’s struggling economy for the selfish purpose of further solidifying union control of the ports.”

In the charges, the employees ask the NLRB’s General Counsel immediately to seek a federal court injunction that would bar PMA, ILWU, and SSA from eliminating the Utah jobs and moving the jobs to the ports. Other employers within the PMA have already been pressured to agree to hand over their planning workers to the union. Without immediate NLRB intervention, SSA and its employees will also be forced to accede to the demands of the PMA and ILWU upon ratification of the new agreement.

Before the 10-day lockout in October, the ILWU hierarchy employed a variety of work slowdown tactics. These included deliberately understaffing key operations and sending workers to jobs for which they were not qualified, which made it impossible for the ports to function.

Union officials have a long history of using economic and wartime crises to seek more coercive power. During the Second World War, for example, Big Labor waged 13,000 strikes and work stoppages, often called for the single purpose of forcibly unionizing employees. In the most notorious of these strikes, union officials were able to shut down vital iron mines and ultimately persuaded the federal government to mandate that all mining employees join the union as a condition of employment.

12 Nov 2002

Persuaded By Bush Solicitor, Supreme Court Will Not Review Union Dues Ruling By Clinton NLRB

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 12, 2002) – Ceding to the request of U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, the U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it will not review a key ruling issued by the Clinton National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that dramatically diminished the rights of employees to refrain from supporting objectionable union activities with their forced union dues.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit first unanimously overturned the NLRB ruling in Mulder v. National Labor Relations Board, but then it later unanimously upheld it during a circuit-wide rehearing. By refusing to grant a writ of certiorari, the Supreme Court allows unions to force millions of unionized workers in the private sector to pay for union organizing drives or lose their jobs. Organizing expenses often exceed 20-30% of a union’s budget.

“It’s disturbing the Bush Administration took this position in opposition to enforcement of the Beck decision,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, referring to the Supreme Court’s Communications Workers v. Beck (1988) decision. That decision allows employees to reclaim their forced union dues spent for activities unrelated to collective bargaining, such as politics. “No one should be forced to fund the recruitment of supporters to a private ideological cause to get or keep a job.”

The decision to oppose Supreme Court review fit the strategy of some in the White House political office to cozy up to union officials by making fundamental policy concessions that have increased union coercive power. As the union hierarchy has again gone all out to defeat Republicans at the polls this year, this concession strategy is increasingly recognized as a political failure.

Many labor law experts agree that the Ninth Circuit’s decision directly violates previous rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court. In the Foundation-won precedent Ellis v. Railway Clerks, the High Court determined that union organizing expenses were only tenuously related to collective bargaining, and thus employees who are not members of a union could not be legally forced to financially support this activity.

In affirming the NLRB and establishing a nationwide precedent in conflict with previous Supreme Court rulings, the Ninth Circuit decided against grocery clerk Phillip Mulder and five other employees and in favor of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union.

Foundation attorneys plan to bring forward similar cases in other circuits with the hope of persuading the Supreme Court ultimately to take up the issue of union organizing.

31 Oct 2002

Carpenters Union President Pressured to Return Money Gained From Insider Stock Deal

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Washington, DC (October 31, 2002) — Acting in response to legal pressure as well as embarrassing media coverage, Douglas McCarron, President of the Carpenters’ and Joiners of America union, announced he will return nearly $300,000 in personal profits he made through a notorious insider trading deal while serving as a director of a massive union-owned insurance company, increasingly known as “Big Labor’s Enron.”

While using his position on the $6 billion Union Labor Life Insurance Company (ULLICO) board to line his own pockets, McCarron also received a $110,000 raise from the Carpenters union, increasing his annual compensation to $356,000 in 2001, according to government disclosure documents obtained by the National Right to Work Foundation.

Mr. McCarron still faces possible indictment from a federal grand jury convened to investigate insider trading by union officials on the ULLICO board. Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board is investigating charges filed by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation against ULLICO, whose board is composed primarily of former and current union officials.

In a failed effort to win backing from top officials of the Carpenters and Teamsters unions, the White House political office has been pursuing a strategy to make policy concessions that have increased compulsory unionism power exercised by union officials over rank-and-file workers. Yet despite the White House’s efforts, these two unions have continued to give virtually all of their soft money contributions to Democrat party committees, and the two unions have given 95 percent of their PAC contributions in closely contested House and Senate races to Democrat candidates.

“The President of the United States should not be cozying up to union officials like Doug McCarron who are knee-deep in allegations of corruption,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is another example of the corruption and arrogance that results from the numerous special privileges conferred upon union officials by federal law, and those involved in the ULLICO scandal should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Despite McCarron’s public relations stunt to pay back his personal ULLICO profits, the legal inquiries continue into whether ULLICO directors, including McCarron, violated the law by writing special rules which allowed themselves to sell their personal portfolios of ULLICO stock at an inflated price, while at the same time preventing larger shareholders, including union pension funds set up for the benefit of workers, from selling their larger holdings. These transactions were concealed for nearly two years until they came to light in April. Under the special rules, McCarron sold 3,000 shares at a profit of $92 a share.

In addition to McCarron, public reports indicate that other union officials, including Martin Maddaloni, President of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, and Morton Bahr, President of the Communications Workers of America, personally profited from these secret transactions.

28 Oct 2002

Service Employees Union Again Smacked With Charges For Abusing Workers’ Rights

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (October 25, 2002) — Attorneys provided by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation have filed a third round of charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against a Syracuse-based union for continually seizing union dues unlawfully from employees of the Marsellus Casket Company.

The complaint, the third filed against Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200 in fifteen months, again charges the union hierarchy with failing to provide union dissenters such as Mark L. Miller, Scott Bayer, and David Sprague with an adequate breakdown of the activities their forced union dues are financing.

“The length of time and amount of resources union bosses have spent stonewalling workers’ objections shows how determined they are to keep forced union dues flowing into the union’s political operation,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.

As part of a previous settlement, the NLRB required the union to post a notice alerting workers and employees of the Marsellus Casket Company of their right to refrain from formal union membership and obtain a reduction of their forced union dues. The settlement also required SEIU union officials to provide employees with financial disclosure that demonstrates how mandatory dues are spent.

However, when Miller received the union’s disclosure in early August, it again failed to include the required independent audit of the union’s expenditures. Moreover, the union’s procedure continues to authorize it to spend objectors’ monies for lobbying and activities outside of collective bargaining.

The original case against SEIU Local 200 was filed in July 2001 by Foundation attorneys for Miller, Bayer, and Sprague. SEIU officials violated the workers’ rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck, a case that Foundation attorneys argued and won, workers may halt and reclaim forced union dues spent on politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.

22 Oct 2002

Union Endorsements of Jeb Bush’s Opponent Further Show White House Appeasement of Union Officials Has Backfired

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Tallahassee, Fla. (October 22, 2002) – In another stinging rejection of the Bush administration’s strategy to cozy up to the union hierarchy, the Florida Education Association (FEA) union has admitted that it has mortgaged its state headquarters building to raise more than $1.5 million to finance the defeat President George W. Bush’s brother in Florida’s gubernatorial election.

As revealed this week in an investigative report by National Review Online, “$1.7 million in equity the FEA sucked out of its South Adams Street building” was earmarked nearly two years ago for the explicit purpose of pummeling Jeb Bush in order to embarrass President Bush, even though many rank-and-file teachers support the Bush brothers.

“The union hierarchy is going all out to defeat Governor Jeb Bush and humiliate the president,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is the gratitude the White House has been given for bending over backwards for union officials over the past 18 months.”

The teacher union’s actions – taken despite the Bush administration having given the union hierarchy and Senator Ted Kennedy virtually everything they demanded in the budget-busting education bill – are the latest sign that the White House’s strategy to court top union officials has backfired. The administration’s core policy concessions have not blunted ongoing attacks by union officials on Bush or other Republicans – but have begun to alienate the president’s natural base.

For example, over past eighteen months, the White House political office has: 1) given Teamsters and Carpenters officials significant influence over selection of nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB); 2) encouraged Congress not to hold hearings on legislation that would be embarrassing to union officials, such as legislation to end compulsory unionism; 3) filed arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court opposing review of a NLRB decision that gutted employee rights not to pay forced union dues spent to support objectionable union activities; 4) inserted a discriminatory union-only project labor agreement in the Alaska energy legislation; and 5) signaled its intention to release the corrupt Teamsters union from federal oversight.

Despite these concessions, union officials continue to put their political money and muscle behind liberal Democrats. For example, based on an analysis of PAC giving in tight Senate and House races, over 95 percent of Big Labor’s contributions – including those made by the Carpenters and Teamsters union PACs – still go to Democrats. Meanwhile, despite the White House’s appeasement of the Teamsters union hierarchy, the union just endorsed Bill McBride, Jeb Bush’s opponent in the Florida gubernatorial election.

“By pursuing this appeasement strategy, the White House has been alienating its Right to Work base, and, even if it were worth it, they’ve gotten nothing in return,” stated Gleason.

22 Oct 2002

Nation’s Largest Teacher Union Must Halt Annual Interrogation of Religious Teachers

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Washington, DC (October 22, 2002) – In response to religious discrimination charges brought by Ohio teacher Dennis Robey, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ordered the National Education Association (NEA) and its local affiliates to stop subjecting teachers annually to a burdensome and invasive process before respecting their religious objections to union affiliation.

With the help of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, Robey brought charges against the NEA and its local affiliates after they refused to honor his longstanding religious objection to supporting the union because it promotes pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality positions, and constantly attempts to interfere with parental rights. The EEOC had announced earlier this year that the union policy violates federal law.

“For years the NEA union has used this particular illegal scheme to intimidate and harass teachers of faith who dare to challenge their radical agenda,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “The EEOC’s finding of a violation further underscores that the nation’s largest teacher union has systematically persecuted people of faith.”

Robey began to make his religious objections known in 1995. During the 1999-2000 school year, union officials rebuffed his longstanding objection and demanded that every year he must describe, in detail, his deeply held religious views, fill out a lengthy and invasive form, and file it with the union. On the form, union officials asked probing personal questions about his relationship with God, his “religious affiliation,” and required him to obtain a signature from a “religious official” attesting to the validity of his beliefs.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, union officials must attempt to accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs if they conflict with financially supporting a union. To accommodate the conflict between an employee’s faith and a requirement to pay fees to a union he believes to be immoral, the law allows employees instead to donate that money to charity.

The EEOC agreed with Foundation attorneys’ arguments that the nationwide union policy unlawfully places an undue burden on teachers, and that teachers need only file a one-time objection to paying forced union dues.

Although the union has agreed to cease this particular method of harassment, numerous other cases are still pending against the NEA union hierarchy for other harassment of religious objectors.

17 Oct 2002

Union’s Pro-Abortion Stance Prompts Worker To Divert Dues To Charity

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Oxnard, Calif. (October 16, 2002) – In response to charges filed by Lynn Laird, a local psychologist, officials with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 998 must recognize Laird’s status as a religious objector and divert her forced union fees to a mutually agreed upon charity.

With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation, Laird filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after the SEIU union hierarchy initially refused to accommodate Laird’s sincere religious beliefs.

“No one should be forced to support a union and agenda that they find morally offensive,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is a fight to protect people of faith from being harassed by union bosses.”

In January 2001, Laird learned that the SEIU and its affiliates were advocating public funding for abortion, and notified union officials of her intention to assert her right as a religious objector under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Under the law, union officials must attempt to accommodate sincere religious objectors by allowing employees to make charitable contributions in lieu of paying the mandatory union fees.

Rather than comply with the law, SEIU officials diverted Laird’s would-be dues to a charity whose record of animal testing also violated her sincere Christian beliefs. Once the Ventura County Humane Society was decided upon as a mutually agreed upon charity, union officials refused to pay fees to the charity retroactively to cover the period during which the complaint was processed. The union also refused to assume the cost of any future grievances Laird files, even though she is paying an amount equal to union fees to charity.

“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Teachers across the country, regardless of their faith, are being shaken down to pay for this radical agenda,” said Gleason. “Without the protections of a Right to Work law, Californians will continue to suffer discrimination as a result of forced unionism.”

8 Oct 2002

While Presidential Action Could Reopen West Coast Ports, Federal Labor Policy is to Blame for Crisis

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Washington, D.C. (October 8, 2002) – The following is a statement from Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation on President Bush’s decision to intervene and invoke the Taft-Hartley Act provisions to halt the West Coast ports shutdown involving the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU):

“Using the union special privileges granted by federal labor law, a small group of union officials have been empowered to hold America’s economy hostage. President Bush’s decision to seek a temporary injunction to open the West Coast ports for shipping is only a temporary solution to a much larger problem.

“If the president is serious about protecting America’s economy and security, he must work to end compulsory unionism in the form of monopoly bargaining and forced union dues. This power gives union officials control over union treasuries, union offices, strike votes, and contract negotiations without fear of workers exercising any practical restraint.

“Union officials have a long history of exploiting national security and economic crises to seek more power. During the Second World War, Big Labor waged 13,000 strikes and work stoppages to impose forced unionism on hundreds of thousands of workers. By the end of World War II, more than 78 percent of unionized employees were governed by contracts that required them to pay union dues as a condition of employment, a fourfold increase. ”

7 Oct 2002

Laboring against us: Union power grab hurts national security

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Washington Times
October 7, 2002

By Stefan Gleason, Vice President
National Right to Work

As the Senate considers denying President George W. Bush managerial flexibility at the proposed Department of Homeland Security, the union brass are proving again that reports of their political demise are greatly exaggerated. Union officials have managed to convince Senate Democrats to make a risky political bet by voting against the president on a vital national security issue — and just one month before an election.

But the real sticking point in the debate over the homeland security bill is over expansion of union coercive privileges — not civil service protections, as union spokesmen have claimed. The union hierarchy wants to require the president of the United States to get their permission before implementing personnel decisions necessary to cut through crippling bureaucracy and improve national security. Such a requirement would change existing policy and bog down the administration in protracted union negotiations over petty matters.

Sadly, union officials have employed this strategy of reaching for power during previous periods of national crisis as well. Take their spectacular successes during World War II.

Big labor’s World War II power-grab began in 1941, when the federal government became more deeply involved in key defense-related industries. Realizing that their leverage would increase due to the national crisis, union officials instigated a series of 13,000 often violent and crippling strikes.

In one of the most notorious of these strikes, mineworkers union bosses shut down the coal mines owned by steel firms (steel was, of course, vital to the war effort). Union officials’ chief demand was that all mining employees be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment. When a federal agency recommended a settlement that did not include this requirement, President Franklin D. Roosevelt turned the matter over to an arbitrator who ruled in the union’s favor.

As more U.S. industries became enmeshed in war production, the Roosevelt administration repeatedly used so-called “labor peace” as an excuse to rope hundreds of thousands more individuals into compulsory unionism.

Toward that end, Roosevelt created the National War Labor Board (NWLB) and gave it authority over just about every industry in wartime America. In July 1942, the NWLB revealed its loyalty to the union hierarchy when it ruled that workers may not resign their union memberships for the entire length of a union’s collective bargaining contract. Before World War II, only 20 percent of unionized employees were governed by contracts that required forced union dues payments as a job condition. By 1947, that percentage shot up to 78 percent — where it remains today.

In spite of all the efforts to placate Big Labor, however, “labor peace” never did develop during the war. The number of strikes rose 26 percent in 1943, and 32 percent in 1944, and declined by only 4 percent in 1945.

Labor expert Donald R. Richberg, in his 1957 book, “Labor Union Monopoly: A Clear And Present Danger,” detailed the “exasperation with which a war-stricken people had watched the unions take advantage of war necessities to force unreasonable demands on private industry and government.” This was, in Mr. Richberg’s words, “a disgraceful record for ‘patriotic’ labor.”
True to form, union officials have also used the horrifying attacks of September 11 as cover for their march for increased government-granted privileges.

Only two days after al Qaeda toppled the World Trade Center towers, for example, Democrat Sens. Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton rammed a bill that one union dubbed “the largest expansion of labor [union] rights considered by Congress in decades” through a closed-door Senate committee without a single word of testimony or even a recorded vote. Later, they tried to sneak it through the Senate by unanimous consent. And in November, union-allied senators attempted to push through the legislation via an amendment to a “must pass” appropriations bill.

Through these shameless maneuvers, Mr. Kennedy and Mrs. Clinton sought to federally mandate that all state and local governments anoint union officials as the monopoly bargaining agents for local police, firefighters, paramedics, and other public safety officers — even in jurisdictions that have wisely banned this form of compulsory unionism.

Fortunately for the many dedicated public servants who don’t want union officials and crippling workplace rules to disrupt their important work, some senators spoke out against the proposed expansion of union coercive power. “We appreciate our firemen and we appreciate our policemen, but forcing people to pay union dues is not a way to show appreciation,” said Sen. Phil Gramm.

Now, during the debate over union privileges inserted by Senate Democrats into the Homeland Security bill, union bosses are adopting a tone of outraged innocence while loudly proclaiming their dedication to national security. But their actions prove otherwise, and their long record of exploiting national crises to increase their power should stiffen the resolve of right-minded senators to stand with the president.

Stefan Gleason is vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation, a Springfield, Va.-based organization.