7 Feb 2002

Marsellus Casket Employees Beat Corrupt Union In Unfair Labor Practices Case

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (February 7, 2002) — Responding to pressure brought by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) forced the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200 into a settlement of unfair labor practice charges brought by employees of the Marsellus Casket Company.

The case was filed by foundation attorneys for three company employees, Mark L. Miller, Scott Bayer, and David Sprague. The union had refused their resignations and forced them to continue to pay full union dues, including dues used for political, ideological, or other non-representational purposes.

SEIU Local 200 must refund the three employees’ dues and fees that were used for non-representational purposes. The settlement also forces 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 the payment of full union dues.

“The union has finally been forced to pay a price for its illegal practice of fleecing employees for political cash,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.

As part of the settlement, SEIU officials must also notify objecting workers what percentage of their dues is being used to fund non-representational activities, including political activities. Under law, an employee may resign from formal union membership, pay a reduced fee, and further challenge the veracity of the union’s figures.

The case arose after 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.

30 Jan 2002

Judge Allows Employees’ Intervention in Right to Work Case Over AFL-CIO Objections

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Muskogee, Okla. (January 30, 2002) – Despite formal objections from the Oklahoma AFL-CIO, Judge Frank H. Seay has allowed three Oklahoma workers to join Governor Keating in defending Oklahoma’s new Right to Work constitutional amendment. Formally admitted yesterday as “defendant intervenors,” the workers are receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

The employees argue that, if the unions prevail in voiding the statewide ban on forced unionism, they will suffer direct financial harm as well as damage to their interests of free speech and free association.

“Big Labor fought the intervention of our clients because they are afraid to let the workers of Oklahoma speak for themselves. This ruling affirms that union bosses cannot muzzle workers,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “These employees deserve the right to speak out against the corruption and abuse created by compulsory unionism.”

The Oklahoma AFL-CIO, six local unions, and a heavily unionized company filed the suit last November in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma to overturn the will of Oklahoma’s voters, who enacted State Question 695 on September 25, 2001. The Right to Work constitutional amendment bans the widespread union practice of forcing workers to join an unwanted union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. Oklahoma is the newest of America’s 22 Right to Work states.

As “defendant intervenors,” the employees’ `can file briefs and Foundation attorneys can make arguments in court defending the employees’ financial and liberty interests at stake in the preservation of the Right to Work amendment. Meanwhile, Governor Keating’s primary legal responsibility is to protect the interest of the public at large in a law passed by electoral referendum.

The three employees are Kent Duvall of United Parcel Service, Michelle McKenzie of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, and Stephen Weese of Oklahoma Fixture Company.

Motions for summary judgment will be filed by the parties on or before January 31, 2002.

29 Jan 2002

Federal Investigators Ordered to Re-Open Barry Williams’ Case Against Actors Union

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 29, 2002) — Persuaded by National Right to Work attorneys, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ordered its investigators to reconsider their dismissal of unfair labor practice charges filed by actor Barry Williams against the Actors Equity Association (AEA) union.

The former “Brady Bunch” star faces confiscatory union fines for exercising his right to work on a non-Equity production.

NLRB General Counsel Arthur Rosenfeld remanded the case back to the New York Regional Office because it dismissed Williams’ June 2001 charges without conducting an adequate investigation. Inexplicably, the New York NLRB investigators had refused to interview key witnesses and collect key evidence. Foundation attorneys argue that the $30,000 fine levied against Williams for exercising his right to work in a production that did not force employees to work under union contract is excessive and without justification, since Williams was not a voluntary member of the union.

“Because Barry Williams refused to bow to union demands, Actors Equity officials have targeted him with a smear campaign designed to damage his career,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason.

Equity officials had organized nationwide pickets of “The Sound of Music” in which union militants chanted, held up signs, and handed out fliers personally attacking Williams. In their latest attempt to publicly embarrass Williams, union officials are offering to slightly reduce the amount of their exorbitant fine if Williams apologizes for working in a non-Equity production of “The Sound of Music.” Williams says he should not have to issue an apology for exercising his rights.

“It is the union’s officers who should issue an apology — to Barry Williams for this vicious harassment,” charged Gleason.

Foundation attorneys are demanding that the NLRB’s New York Regional Director conduct a thorough investigation and issue a complaint to establish that Equity is attempting to fine someone who is not a voluntary union member, and that the fine levied against Williams was levied for post resignation conduct.

28 Jan 2002

Big Labor Formally Opposes Workers’ Legal Defense of Oklahoma’s Right to Work Law

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Muskogee, Okla. (January 28, 2002) – The Oklahoma AFL-CIO is attempting to prevent three Oklahoma workers from joining Governor Keating in defending Oklahoma’s new Right to Work constitutional amendment. The workers are receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

The employees argue that, if the unions prevail in voiding the statewide ban on forced unionism, they will suffer direct financial harm as well as damage to their interests of free speech and free association.

“Big Labor opposes the intervention of our clients because they are afraid to let the workers of Oklahoma speak for themselves. They know that if given a chance most laborers will reject the shackles of forced unionism,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “These employees deserve the right to be free from the corruption and abuse created by compulsory unionism.”

The Oklahoma AFL-CIO, six local unions, and a heavily unionized company filed the suit last November in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma to overturn the will of Oklahoma voters in enacting State Question 695 on September 25, 2001. The Right to Work constitutional amendment bans the widespread union practice of forcing workers to join an unwanted union or pay any union dues as a condition of employment. Oklahoma is the newest of America’s 22 Right to Work states.

The employees had filed with the court as “defendant intervenors.” That would ensure that they can file briefs and make arguments in court defending their direct financial and liberty interests at stake in the preservation of the Right to Work amendment. Meanwhile, Governor Keating’s primary legal responsibility is to protect the interest of the public at large in a law passed by electoral referendum.

The three employees are Kent Duvall, an employee of United Parcel Service, Michelle McKenzie, an employee of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, and Stephen Weese, an employee of Oklahoma Fixture Company.

Motions for summary judgment will be filed by the parties on or before January 31, 2002.

22 Jan 2002

Oklahoma Workers Join Court Battle to Defend Right to Work Law

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Muskogee, Okla. (January 22, 2002) – Enjoying free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, workers from three different Oklahoma companies have filed formally in federal court to join Governor Frank Keating in defending Oklahoma’s new Right to Work constitutional amendment against multi-union attack.

The employees argue that if the unions prevail in voiding the statewide ban on forced unionism they will suffer direct financial harm as well as damage to their interests of free speech and free association.

The Oklahoma AFL-CIO, six local unions, and a heavily unionized company filed the suit last November in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma to overturn the will of Oklahoma voters in enacting State Question 695 on September 25, 2001. The Right to Work constitutional amendment bans the widespread union practice of forcing workers to join an unwanted union or pay any union dues as a condition of employment. Oklahoma is the newest of America’s 22 Right to Work states.

“Despite the personal risks they face in publicly opposing the state’s most powerful union officials, these employees feel so strongly that they have decided to stand beside Governor Keating in federal court to face down this multi-union lawsuit,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “The Right to Work law is not just about economic growth and creation of high-paying jobs, it’s about protecting individual rights and reducing union corruption and abuse.”

The employees are filing with the court as “defendant intervenors” which will ensure that they can file briefs and make arguments in court to defend their direct financial and liberty interests at stake in the preservation of the Right to Work amendment. Meanwhile, Governor Keating’s primary legal responsibility is to protect the interest of the public at large in a law passed by electoral referendum.

The three employees are Kent Duvall, an employee of United Parcel Service, Michelle McKenzie, an employee of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, and Stephen Weese, an employee of Oklahoma Fixture Company.

Motions for summary judgment will be filed by the parties on or before January 31, 2002.

22 Jan 2002

Unprecedented Union-Only Project Labor Agreement Hit With Lawsuit

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Des Moines, Iowa (January 22, 2002) — National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced its intention to file an Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) brief in support of Associated Builders and Contractors’ (ABC) suit to stop the Polk County Board of Supervisors’ from imposing a union-only project labor agreement (PLA) on the construction of the Iowa Events Center.

“The first of its kind in Iowa, this PLA will be the model for similar agreements throughout Iowa unless it is overturned,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “Iowa’s sacred Right to Work is under attack by Big Labor. It is vital that this new compulsory unionism power grab is stopped in its tracks.”

A PLA is a collective bargaining agreement that contractors must become a party to as a condition of performing work on a government-funded construction project. They invariably require contractors to grant union officials monopoly bargaining privileges over their workers, use exclusive union hiring halls, and operate according to wasteful union work rules. A PLA’s undeniable function is to foist compulsory union representation onto the backs of employees of non-union contractors who choose the freedom to work without union involvement.

The National Right to Work Foundation attorneys intend to file their brief at the first appropriate time. In addition, they will offer research that shows how PLAs discriminate against workers, violate the spirit of Iowa’s Right to Work Law, and lines the pockets of Iowa’s union officials at the expense of taxpayers.

“Iowans are outraged that the Polk County Board of Supervisors is allowing union officials to use government contracts to harm workers who choose not to associate with unions,” said Gleason. “Work should be awarded on the basis of who is willing to do the best job at a reasonable price, not on whether they are willing to subject themselves to forced unionization.”

For more information on the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, please click here or contact us at 1-800-336-3600.

15 Jan 2002

U.S. Appellate Court Upholds Right of Indian Reservations to Ban Forced Unionism

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SAN JUAN PUEBLO, N.M. (January 15, 2002) – In a precedent-setting 9-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has upheld the sovereign right of Native American reservations to pass Right to Work laws to protect workers from being forced to pay union dues.

The ruling announced today advances the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s battle to protect Right to Work laws around the country. The decision affirms that the 300 Native American reservations across America may pass Right to Work laws to limit forced unionism. Attracted to growing economies, union organizers have made increasing efforts in recent years to unionize companies on reservations. This ruling clears the path for tribal governments to act without interference from the federal government.

“Not only is this a tremendous victory for Native American workers and reservations around the country, but also for the Right to Work movement,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, which provided free legal advice to the Pueblo’s attorneys and filed as amicus curiae in the case. “In addition to preserving individual rights, Right to Work laws will help to bring new business and economic growth to these long-impoverished regions.”

The case arose when the tribal council of the Pueblo of San Juan passed a Right to Work ordinance that gave workers the right not to join and not to financially support a union as a job condition. Union bosses at the Western Council of Industrial Workers Local 1385 then filed unfair labor charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against an employer operating on the Pueblo.

The Clinton NLRB’s General Counsel brought the full force of the federal government down on the tribe. The NLRB filed for a preliminary injunction in early 1998 in the U.S. District Court for New Mexico to crush the Pueblo’s Right to Work law. After losing completely at the trial court, the federal government lost again on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals. And, after the ruling of the rare en banc court, the NLRB has now lost a third time. In affirming the District Court’s ruling, the appellate court stated, “The legislative enactment of the Pueblo’s right-to-work ordinance was also clearly an exercise of sovereign authority over economic transactions on the reservation.”

Section 14(b) of the National Labor Relations Act affirmed that states and territories may pass laws which protect employees from forced unionism imposed by federal law. Thus, 22 states have passed highly popular Right to Work laws. While other New Mexico unionized workers can still be fired for not paying union dues because the state has not enacted such a law, the San Juan Pueblo passed its Right to Work provision in November 1996.

15 Jan 2002

Federal Government Persuaded to Prosecute Teamsters Local 377 for Employee Rights Violations

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (January 15, 2002) — In response to charges brought by hospital employees at Youngstown’s St. Elizabeth Health Center, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a formal complaint against Teamsters Local 377 for unfair labor practices. The workers, with the assistance of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, filed federal charges last year against the union for refusing to accept their resignations and for failing to properly notify them of their right to refrain from paying dues to subsidize union political activities.

“Teamsters officials must now answer for their systematic shaking down of employees,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal aid to victims of compulsory unionism abuse. “Hopefully, this is a signal that the Bush NLRB plans to stand up for union-abused workers.”

Officials of the Youngstown-based union refused to accept employees’ written resignations from union membership and told employees that they must pay all “back dues” before the union would even consider their resignations. Local Teamsters union officials were also charged with using payroll deductions to collect alleged “preexisting debt arrearages” that the union could not lawfully obligate the workers to pay under its forced unionism clause.

Under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision, workers may resign from formal union membership at any time and pay only for the union’s proven collective bargaining costs, an amount that is only a fraction of full union dues.

Unless the Teamsters Local 377 remedies its lawbreaking, the case will proceed to a trial before an NLRB administrative law judge.

7 Jan 2002

Court Overturns President Bush’s Union Dues Executive Order

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Washington, D.C. (January 7, 2002) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation today called upon President George W. Bush to appeal the U. S. District Court’s decision to invalidate his executive order requiring federal contractors to post notices informing employees that they cannot be compelled to pay union dues spent for partisan politics or any other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.

At the same time, the Foundation delivered an initial wave of 39,000 signed grassroots petitions urging President Bush to defend his executive order from union attack.

“The White House must appeal the court’s decision without delay to slow union officials’ systematic shakedown of working Americans for hundreds of millions dollars for politics,” stated Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “This is an important test for the White House. To what extent will the President use his power to free workers from union exploitation?”

Signed on February 17, 2001, Executive Order 13201 would affect a segment of the 12 million American employees compelled to pay union dues as a condition of employment, as it requires companies with federal contracts to inform workers of their rights under the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Communications Workers v. Beck. Bush’s father issued a similar executive order in April of 1992 that was immediately revoked at the request of union officials when President Clinton took office in 1993. Additionally, the Clinton National Labor Relations Board stonewalled the enforcement of these precious employee protections, often leaving many cases languishing within the bureaucracy for six or more years.

Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. of U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia last week enjoined the implementation of the President’s directive on the grounds that the action was preempted by Congress – despite the fact that Bush’s executive order only seeks to enforce the Supreme Court’s interpretation of congressionally enacted law. In May 2001, a group of unions filed the case, known as UAW-Labor Employment and Training Corporation et al. v. Chao et al.

“Union officials seem to be willing to go to any length to keep the forced union dues flowing into their massive political machine,” said Gleason. “Since polls show that 62 percent of unionized employees do not want their money spent this way, union officials are terrified of the consequences if workers learn about their right to withhold this money.”

Copies of the Foundation’s letter and the grassroots petitions are available upon request.

4 Jan 2002

California Faculty Association Found Guilty of Religious Discrimination

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San Francisco, Calif. (January 4, 2002) – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has found reason to believe the California Faculty Association (CFA) discriminated against California State University (CSU) Professor Charles Baird by refusing to accommodate his sincere religious objections to joining or paying compulsory agency fees to the union. The federal agency judged the CFA’s actions to be in direct violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Right Act after hearing arguments from attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

“This ruling reaffirms that Big Labor cannot trample on someone’s religious freedom,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “The CFA claims to stand up for the rights of employees, but this case shows that it only wants to stand for forced unionism.”

National Right to Work Foundation attorneys first filed the religious discrimination charges with the EEOC on November 6, 2000, after the CFA refused to honor Professor Baird’s objection to supporting the union on the grounds that it violated his religious beliefs. As a Roman Catholic, Baird objects to union affiliation on the grounds, among others, that he would be supporting an organization that has promoted conflict and used coercion to achieve its goals.

“Dr. Baird’s case shows that Big Labor believes paying tribute to a union is more important than paying tribute to your faith,” stated Gleason. “The indifference union operatives have shown to honest men like Professor Baird is exactly why we need to protect every American’s right to free association.”

Under Title VII, unions must accommodate sincere religious objectors by, at least, allowing them to make charitable contributions in lieu of paying union fees. Unless the CFA remedies its lawbreaking and discriminatory behavior, the EEOC has ordered the case will be handed over to the courts for enforcement.