13 Mar 2019

Workers Challenge Big Labor’s ‘Window Period’ Schemes to Restrict Janus Rights

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Union bosses attempt to block public employees from ending union dues payments

Susan Fischer and Jeanette Speck

Foundation staff attorneys are litigating several class action lawsuits for civil servants, including teachers Susan Fischer (left) and Jeanette Speck, who are victims of union officials’ coercive “window period” schemes.

TRENTON, NJ – The Foundation’s Supreme Court victory in Janus v. AFSCME was a direct hit on Big Labor’s forced fees coffers. As government employees have begun exercising their Janus protections, union officials have attempted to avoid the Supreme Court precedent and continue violating the rights of the workers they claim to represent.

Foundation staff attorneys are currently litigating more than fifteen cases to enforce the Janus decision. Recently, Foundation staff attorneys filed several class action lawsuits challenging union officials’ “window period” schemes, arbitrary windows of time limiting when employees can exercise their First Amendment right to refrain from subsidizing a union.

NJ Teachers Challenge State Law Limiting Janus

Before Janus, New Jersey public school teachers Susan Fischer and Jeanette Speck, along with five million other public sector workers, were required to subsidize a union even if they were not union members.

“You have to pay if you join and pay if you don’t join,” said Fischer. “That was so un-American to us.”

Days after the monumental ruling at the Supreme Court, both teachers resigned their union memberships under the Janus decision’s protection of their choice to completely refrain from supporting a union. However, the teachers were informed that they could only stop payments and withdraw their membership during an annual 10-day window period.

In anticipation of Janus, New Jersey state legislators enacted a law in May to limit workers from exercising their rights under the then-pending Supreme Court decision except during the annual 10-day window. Fischer and Speck sought free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys to file a lawsuit arguing that the law is unconstitutional and must be struck down.

In the class action lawsuit, filed against the Township of Ocean Education Association (TOEA), the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), and the National Education Association (NEA) unions, Fischer and Speck also seek a refund of the union dues forced from their paychecks. The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court to certify a class to include all other public employees whose attempts to resign and cease subsidizing a union following Janus have been rejected by the NJEA and its affiliates.

CA Homecare Provider Seeks to Stop Unconstitutional Forced Fees

Delores Polk, a California home healthcare provider who cares for her daughter, is not a voluntary member of an SEIU local union. However, pressured by an unsolicited call from an SEIU telemarketer, Polk verbally agreed to join the union and pay dues.

When Polk reconsidered days later and attempted to resign her membership and stop paying union dues, union officials informed her via letter that she had missed the “window period” to cut off payments and must wait another year before opting out.

Polk was never notified of her First Amendment rights, protected by Janus, to refrain from joining or subsidizing SEIU Local 2015, and did not sign any written documentation agreeing to be a union member or waiving her First Amendment rights as the Janus ruling requires.

Despite her lack of consent, the California State Controller, at the behest of SEIU Local 2015, continues to deduct union dues from the Medicaid funds Polk receives to care for her daughter.

Polk came to Foundation staff attorneys to file a lawsuit challenging the scheme. Her lawsuit asks the court to certify a class, including the potentially thousands of home healthcare providers who have been forced to pay union dues even after notifying the State Controller or SEIU Local 2015 officials, that they do not consent to financially supporting the union.

Ohio Civil Servants Sue AFSCME to Exercise First Amendment Rights

After Janus, several Ohio public sector workers each resigned their memberships from AFSCME Council 8. Despite the employees’ desire to refrain from subsidizing the union, AFSCME union officials have continued siphoning union dues from the workers’ paychecks, citing a union policy that restricts revocation of dues deductions to a narrow 15-day window before a new monopoly bargaining contract is enforced.

The workers sought free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys to file a complaint. In the lawsuit, filed on behalf of all other Ohio public employees who were blocked by AFSCME Council 8 from exercising their Janus rights after attempting to cease paying union dues and fees, the workers ask the court to declare AFSCME’s revocation policy unconstitutional and to stop union officials from collecting dues from non-consenting public employees. The class potentially includes thousands of workers.

On the same day that lawsuit was filed, Foundation attorneys filed another class action lawsuit against AFSCME for an Ohio civil servant seeking to reclaim forced union fees coerced from workers by AFSCME Local 11 officials before Janus. (Read more about that case here.)

These most recent lawsuits join several others in which Foundation staff attorneys are providing free legal aid to public employees, challenging policies that block their First Amendment rights under Janus. In just two examples, Pennsylvania school bus driver Michael Mayer and California court worker Mark Smith each filed federal complaints after union officials blocked their attempts to exercise their Janus rights.

“Contrary to the wishes of union bosses and their allies in state legislatures, First Amendment rights cannot be limited to just a matter of days out of the year,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The Foundation-won Janus decision at the Supreme Court recognized that all civil servants may exercise their rights to free speech and free association by resigning their union membership and cutting off union payments whenever they choose. Foundation staff attorneys remain committed to enforcing the constitutional rights of millions of public sector workers guaranteed by Janus.”

7 Mar 2019

Ohio Civil Servant Sues for Return of Coerced Union Fees

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Class Action Lawsuit Seeks to Enforce Janus

Nathaniel Ogle

With free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys, Nathaniel Ogle seeks the return of forced union fees to thousands of workers.

COLUMBUS, OH – The Foundation’s victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME opened the door for public sector workers to reclaim years’ worth of forced union fees seized without their consent. In Janus, argued and won by Foundation staff attorneys, the Court held that no government employee can be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Government employees are now seeking to hold union officials accountable for money seized without consent before the Janus decision.

Foundation staff attorneys have already filed several class action lawsuits to reclaim unconstitutionally seized fees from Big Labor’s coffers for workers who earned it in the first place. Together, the lawsuits seek over $170 million in forced-fees refunds. That number is anticipated to grow as the Foundation receives more requests for free legal aid to enforce Janus.

Ohio Worker Demands Refunds of Forced Fees

One recent lawsuit, filed by an Ohio public sector worker, seeks to hold union officials accountable for potentially millions in forced fees.

As an employee at Ohio’s Department of Taxation, Nathaniel Ogle exercised his legal right to refrain from membership in the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (AFSCME Local 11). However, before Janus, Ogle and many other union non-member employees were compelled to pay union fees.

After the Janus decision, Ogle came to Foundation staff attorneys for free legal aid in filing a federal lawsuit against AFSCME Local 11. The lawsuit asks that the court certify a class to include all other employees who during the statutory limitations period were forced by AFSCME Local 11 to pay union fees without their consent. AFSCME Local 11 has monopoly bargaining power over more than 30,000 Ohio government employees, meaning a potential class of forced-fee victims may have union fees totaling millions of dollars due to them.

Foundation attorneys continue to enforce the Janus precedent through several other class action lawsuits to refund victims of union boss coercion. The victory strengthened the ongoing Hamidi v. SEIU case, currently pending at the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

In Hamidi, a certified class of over 30,000 California workers is challenging SEIU Local 1000 union officials’ “opt-out” policy that required workers to affirmatively opt out of the portion of union fees that workers cannot be legally required to pay. Foundation staff attorneys notified the Court of Appeals of the Janus decision’s relevance to Hamidi, and the case was argued in December.

“Thanks to the landmark Janus ruling, tens of thousands of public sector employees are now a step closer to finally receiving recompense for years of being forced to hand over their hard-earned money to a union under threat of being fired,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The Foundation will continue to enforce workers’ First Amendment protections.”

18 Feb 2019

School Employees Seek Refunds and an End to Union Bosses’ Illegal Forced-Dues Demands

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

After this article went to print, the workers were vindicated in a settlement. Read more in our news release here.

Citing Janus, Michigan civil servants file lawsuit to challenge coercion over forced union fees

Linda Gervais

Linda Gervais is one of the independent-minded Michigan workers receiving help from Foundation staff attorneys to enforce Michigan’s Right to Work Laws and halt union bosses’ illegal intimidation tactics.

LANSING, MI – Even after Michigan enacted its popular Right to Work Law protecting workers from being forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment, union officials continued to harass and threaten two public school employees in attempts to illegally extract forced union fees from them.

After years of union bosses’ intimidation tactics, Linda Gervais and Tammy Williams filed a federal class action lawsuit, with free legal aid from Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, to enforce their First Amendment protections under the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME decision. Their lawsuit demands that union officials stop the harassment, including the use of debt collectors, and refund dues illegally obtained from potentially thousands of other victims.

Michigan Education Association Union Bosses Ignore Law and Harass Workers for Dues

Gervais and Williams both are employees of the Port Huron Area School District. Both workers exercised their right to resign their union memberships in September 2013, within a year after Michigan enacted Right to Work legislation freeing employees to choose whether or not to financially support a union without fear of being fired.

However, Michigan Education Association (MEA) union officials refuse to acknowledge that Gervais and Williams have resigned their union membership and continue to claim that the workers still owe union dues.

Ignoring the Right to Work law that protects workers’ right to refrain from subsidizing a union, MEA agents contacted Gervais and Williams dozens of times demanding hundreds of dollars worth of back dues. Although the workers were under no legal obligation to pay, union agents threatened to take both women to court to extract the fees.

Foundation Continues to Defend Michigan Right to Work Law — Litigated More Than 100 Cases In Michigan

Gervais and Williams sought free legal assistance from Foundation staff attorneys in filing a class action lawsuit to put an end to MEA officials’ demands. The complaint asks the court to certify a class including other workers who faced, or continue to face, the same harassment, along with refunds for all workers who paid the dues MEA officials unlawfully demanded.

Their lawsuit seeks to apply to the class the protections established in Janus. In the landmark Janus decision, the Supreme Court ruled that union officials violate the First Amendment by demanding or coercing public employees to pay union dues or fees without the workers’ affirmative, clear consent.

Since the 2012 passage of Right to Work legislation in Michigan, Foundation staff attorneys have litigated more than 100 cases in the state to combat compulsory unionism and union bosses’ attempts to stop workers from exercising their Right to Work.

“As union bosses’ attempts to counteract Michigan’s Right to Work Law demonstrate, the fact that union membership and financial support are voluntary under the law doesn’t mean Big Labor will obey that law,” said Ray LaJeunesse, vice president and legal director of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Thankfully, armed with the Foundation-won Janus Supreme Court decision, Linda, Tammy, and countless other Michigan educators are a step closer to ending this multi-year campaign of illegal dues threats.”

13 Feb 2019

Workers Sue Labor Board Over Rule Blocking Them From Holding Vote to Remove Union

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

School bus drivers’ petition for a decertification election blocked under ‘settlement bar’ rule

Obama and Hoffa

School bus drivers are challenging a coercive NLRB-created rule trapping them under the “representation” of the notoriously corrupt Teamsters union, controlled by top boss Jimmy Hoffa (left).

PITTSBURGH, PA – Two Pennsylvania school bus drivers have filed a federal lawsuit against the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after the Board blocked their petition to hold an election to remove an unwanted union from their workplace.

Marcia Williams and Karen Wunz, employed by Krise Transportation, filed their lawsuit to challenge the NLRB “settlement bar” rule. That rule blocks employees in a union monopoly bargaining unit from holding a secret ballot election to decertify the union until an NLRB-mandated period of time after a settlement agreement between the employer and the union. The complaint asserts that this Board-created policy violates the workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

NLRB Blocks Pennsylvania Bus Drivers’ Attempt to Oust Unwanted Union

In March, Krise Transportation and Teamsters Local 397 (the union with monopoly bargaining power over Williams, Wunz, and their coworkers) entered into a settlement agreement in an unfair labor practice case. The agreement included a clause that barred workers from challenging Teamsters Local 397 union officials’ monopoly bargaining status for a year after the officials’ first bargaining session with Krise. Williams and Wunz were not parties to the agreement.

In May, Williams filed a petition with the NLRB to decertify Teamsters Local 397. Out of 28 Krise employees, 24 employees signed the petition to oppose union officials’ representation. Despite the overwhelming opposition to the union, the NLRB Regional Director blocked their decertification petition using the “settlement bar” rule. Williams requested that the NLRB review the Regional Director’s decision, but the NLRB upheld the dismissal and blocked the employees’ decertification petition.

Williams and Wunz are represented free of charge by Foundation staff attorneys in their attempt to free themselves and their coworkers from unwanted Teamsters union “representation.”

Lawsuit: ‘Settlement Bar’ Rule Violates Workers’ Rights

In the federal lawsuit, Foundation staff attorneys argue that the NLRB’s “settlement bar” rule conflicts with the clear text and plain meaning of the NLRA. The NLRA requires the Board to investigate any petition in which an employee alleges that a union no longer commands a majority of the workers’ support, and that if a question of representation exists the Board must direct a secret ballot election.

However, the NLRB’s “settlement bar” rule blocks Williams, Wunz, and their coworkers from raising a question concerning representation and forces them to submit to the monopoly bargaining privileges of a union they oppose. Foundation staff attorneys point out that nothing in the NLRA grants the Board the authority to issue a “settlement bar” rule blocking employees, even for a “reasonable time,” from raising a question concerning representation, “let alone a rule based merely on the employer’s settlement of unfair labor practice charges to which the employees were not parties.”

Williams and Wunz ask the court to declare the NLRB’s “settlement bar” rule a violation of the Board’s Congressionally delegated authority and to order the Board to move forward with their decertification petition.

“The National Labor Relations Act is premised on the notion of employee rights to associate or refrain from associating with a union. Yet the NLRB has concocted several rules that undermine the Act by blocking workers from voting out unwanted representation,” commented Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Such doctrines have been restricting workers’ voices for far too long. Ms. Williams and Ms. Wunz are standing up to challenge the Board’s union boss-friendly practices, and the Foundation is proud to help them challenge this policy that directly contradicts their rights under federal labor law.”

1 Feb 2019

Public Employees Hit Union with Charges for Intimidation and Discrimination

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

California workers targeted by union official for opposition to unionization

Ryan Wagner

Three workers, including Ryan Wagner, turned to National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys for free legal aid after a union boss illegally attempted to search their emails.

SACRAMENTO, CA – After a union official attempted to search their emails to harass and intimidate them for seeking to exercise their rights, three California public sector workers came to Foundation staff attorneys for free legal aid in filing charges.

Ryan Wagner, Brett Day, and Mark Pipkin work at the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District. Their employer notified them that an Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 3 official had used the state’s public record request system to request copies of all three employees’ emails.

Union Official Harasses Workers for Seeking to Remove Union

The union official requested copies of emails with keywords such as “decertification,” “PERB,” “union,” “decertify,” “how to get rid of union,” “Public Employee Relations Board,” and “Meyers Milias Brown Act.” The terms are related to the employees’ legal rights under California law, specifically the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA), which includes county and municipal employees’ right to remove a union that has lost the support of a majority of workers.

Under the MMBA, workers have a right to abstain from union membership and participation in union activities. Unions are prohibited from interfering with, intimidating, restraining, coercing, or discriminating against any public employee who chooses to exercise those rights.

In response to the union official’s attempt to harass them for being critical of the union, Wagner, Day, and Pipkin sought free legal assistance from Foundation staff attorneys in filing unfair labor practice charges against IUOE Local 3 with the California Public Employee Relations Board (PERB).

In the charge, Foundation staff attorneys argue that the union official’s requests violate the workers’ rights under California’s labor law. As a remedy for the illegal intimidation, the three workers ask that union officials be required to post notices informing all employees of their right to refrain from union activities under California law, and that the union officials acknowledge they violated the workers’ legal rights and cease the illegal activities.

Before the Foundation’s victory at the Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME, public sector employees in California could be required to pay union dues or fees to get or keep a job. After Janus upheld government employees’ First Amendment right to refrain from funding union speech without fear of losing their jobs, over five million workers – including Wagner, Day, and Pipkin – were freed from forced union dues.

However, the three workers are still stuck under IUOE Local 3’s monopoly bargaining contract and so-called “representation.” A decertification election, about which the union official had sought to comb the workers’ communications, would force the union to prove it actually has the support of at least a majority of the workers it claims to represent. If a majority of workers vote against the union in a secret ballot decertification election, the unwanted union would be removed from the workplace.

“This case shows that union officials will go to any lengths to try to trap workers under a union monopoly they oppose,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Apparently, IUOE union bosses are so fearful of letting workers vote on unionization, that they are willing to harass and attempt to intimidate workers whom they claim to ‘represent.’”

21 Jan 2019

U.S. Supreme Court Asked to Hear Case Challenging Monopoly Bargaining Power

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Homecare providers challenge mandatory union ‘representation’ as First Amendment violation

Bierman

SEIU bosses force Teri Bierman (pictured with her family) to affiliate with the union as a condition of caring for her own daughter in her own home.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With free legal representation provided by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a group of homecare providers seeking to care for their sons and daughters without union boss interference have taken their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The providers’ lawsuit, Bierman v. Dayton, challenges a Minnesota scheme that forces thousands of providers under the exclusive monopoly “representation” of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials.

Bierman follows on the heels of Janus v. AFSCME, argued and won at the Supreme Court by Foundation staff attorneys. In Janus, the Court declared forced union fees for public sector employees to violate the First Amendment and opened the door to further cases seeking to uphold workers’ right of freedom of speech and freedom of association.

Suit: Monopoly Bargaining Violates Freedom of Association

Teri Bierman and the seven other petitioners provide homecare services to their sons and daughters and receive state Medicaid assistance to help pay for the care.

After Minnesota declared homecare providers to be “state employees” solely for unionization purposes, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota officials moved to put all under the “exclusive representation” of union officials.

Once granted, “exclusive representation” made union officials the state-designated representative of all providers, even those opposed to unionization and who would prefer to represent themselves or be represented by a different organization.

SEIU officials notified the state that, if the union was certified, it would not force non-members to pay union fees, which the U.S. Supreme Court held to be unconstitutional for homecare providers in the Foundation-won Harris v. Quinn decision in 2014. Union officials would still, however, have the power to act as homecare providers’ sole “representative” in lobbying the state.

Concerned that the impending vote could empower union bosses to interfere with their care for their children, the group of nine homecare providers came to Foundation staff attorneys to challenge the encroachment on their First Amendment rights.

In August 2014, SEIU officials won a sham mail-in election in which just 13 percent of the nearly 27,000 care providers voted in favor of SEIU affiliation.

Consequently, even though seven out of eight providers didn’t vote for unionization, SEIU officials are now empowered to deal with the State for all care providers.

“The sparse vote only adds insult to injury for these homecare providers opposed to union affiliation,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Ray LaJeunesse. “It’s wrong, and contrary to the principle of freedom of association, to force them to affiliate with and accept the so-called representation of a private organization they oppose.”

The homecare providers continue to challenge the forced union “representation.” Their legal odyssey has so far taken four and a half years, and is now at the steps of the Supreme Court. In December, Foundation staff attorneys filed a petition for certiorari with the High Court, asking it to hear the case.

Janus Victory Opens Door for Further First Amendment Protections

By asking the Court to declare it a First Amendment violation to force homecare providers to submit to union officials’ sole power to speak for them to the state, Foundation staff attorneys seek to build on the Janus victory in June 2018. In Janus, Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his opinion for the Court: “Designating a union as the employees’ exclusive representative substantially restricts the rights of individual employees.”

Foundation staff attorneys are litigating another challenge to union officials’ monopoly bargaining privileges in Mentele v. Inslee, brought by Washington homecare providers. Mentele was argued at the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in December.

“Forcing folks who care for their relatives into forced union representation is a slap in the face of fundamental American principles we hold dear,” continued LaJeunesse. “If the Supreme Court agrees to hear Bierman, these homecare providers will be one step closer toward vindicating their rights and establishing First Amendment protections for thousands of other individuals.”

26 Dec 2018

Workers’ Lawsuits Challenge State Attempts to Restrict their Janus Rights

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2018 edition.

Cases seek to strike down laws that let union bosses block workers from stopping dues payments

William Messenger at the Supreme Court

Foundation staff attorney William Messenger argued Janus at the Supreme Court. The Foundation’s victory must be vigilantly enforced.

SPRINGFIELD, VA – Since the 2012 passage of Right to Work legislation in the Wolverine State, Foundation staff attorneys have provided free legal assistance to Michigan workers in more than a hundred cases. With 41 ongoing cases and another 61 closed as of the publication of this article, Michigan cases continue to make up a disproportionate amount of the Foundation’s caseload of approximately 220-230 active cases at any given time. Developments in Foundation legal cases in recent months show that despite dozens of victories for workers, Michigan union bosses continue to attempt to force workers to pay dues despite the Right to Work laws.

These federal lawsuits are among dozens of legal actions workers have pursued, with the assistance of Foundation staff attorneys, to enforce the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling. As decades of Foundation litigation has amply demonstrated, without relentless enforcement, Big Labor ignores precedent and violates the rights of rank-and-file workers.

California Court Worker Sues to Exercise Janus Rights

In California, Foundation staff attorneys are assisting Mark Smith, a court worker in Contra Costa County, who attempted to exercise his new protections days after the Janus decision.

Mr. Smith submitted his resignation from membership in American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2700 and told union officials they did not have his authorization to deduct union dues from his paycheck.

AFSCME officials continued siphoning Mr. Smith’s hard-earned money without his consent and despite his multiple attempts to resign. When Mr. Smith sent his resignation via certified mail, postal service records show union officials left the delivery unclaimed.

After his requests were repeatedly ignored, Mr. Smith came to Foundation staff attorneys for free legal aid in filing a federal lawsuit against AFSCME officials and his government employer.

In the complaint, Mr. Smith challenges union officials’ violation of his First Amendment rights and a California law requiring public employers to deduct dues at the union’s request, even if the worker revokes authorization. This egregious law, enacted mere hours after the Janus decision, also blocks public employers from informing employees of their Janus rights.

Pennsylvania School Bus Driver Blocked from Resigning Union Membership

In Pennsylvania, school bus driver Michael Mayer attempted to exercise his rights under Janus just weeks after the ruling. He resigned his membership in the Teamsters union on July 20 and hand-delivered a notice in August demanding that his employer stop deducting membership dues from his paycheck.

However, Teamsters Local 312 officials refused to honor his resignation, and his employer, Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, continued withdrawing union dues from Mr. Mayer’s hard-earned wages.

Teamster bosses claimed Mr. Mayer only had a 15-day window to escape from the union’s new monopoly bargaining contract under a section of Pennsylvania’s Public Employee Relations Act (PERA). Such a policy directly conflicts with the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling, which held that dues taken without workers’ clear and knowing affirmative consent violate the First Amendment.

When dues continued to be seized from Mayer’s paycheck in September, Foundation staff attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against the Teamsters union and the school district for violating his rights.

The lawsuit seeks a refund of the dues that the Teamsters conspired to take without his consent after his resignation and asks the court to rule that the PERA violates his First Amendment rights by restricting his ability to resign union membership and stop paying dues.

“Unfortunately, though not surprisingly, rather than work to earn the voluntary support of the workers they claim to represent, union officials coast-to-coast are resorting to illegal schemes to block workers from exercising their rights under the Janus decision,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “These cases likely won’t be the last challenging attempts to prevent workers from exercising their Janus rights.”

23 Dec 2018

Seattle Housekeeper Challenges NLRB Policy Blocking Secret Ballot Vote to Remove Union

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2018 edition.

Foundation attorneys seek to overturn Obama-era ruling that traps workers in union after abuse-prone “card check”

President Obama with Richard Trumka

Foundation staff attorneys have asked the Trump NLRB to repeal Obama-era rulings that granted coercive powers to union officials, such as AFL-CIO top boss Richard Trumka (right), at the expense of worker freedom.

WASHINGTON, DC – Since 2011, a Big Labor-friendly ruling by the Obama National Labor Relations Board has barred workers from holding secret ballot votes to remove an unwanted union from their workplace.

Foundation staff attorneys have urged the new Trump NLRB to overturn the case called Lamons Gasket to restore employees’ protections against union officials’ coercion. The latest appeal, the third this year brought by staff attorneys, is on behalf of Seattle hotel housekeeper Gladys Bryant.

Bryant works at Embassy Suites. UNITE HERE Local 8 union officials unionized the workplace through a card check drive, which bypasses an NLRB-supervised secret ballot election and is often characterized by manipulation and intimidation. Union organizers misled Bryant and her fellow workers into signing cards, and then counted those cards as “votes” toward unionization.

When Bryant realized what had happened, she led a group of colleagues in filing an NLRB petition for a secret ballot decertification vote with free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys.

However, the election petition was dismissed by a regional career NLRB official using the Lamons Gasket ruling.

Trump Labor Board has Chance to Restore Worker Protections

Under the Foundation-won Dana decision, workers could collect signatures to request a secret ballot election during a 45-day window following notice that they had been forced under union representation via card check. Dana had provided an important, although limited, protection for workers against coercive card check drives. However in the 2011 Lamons Gasket ruling, an Obama-selected NLRB overturned Dana. This means that no matter how many workers sign a petition seeking to oust a union, they can be barred for one year before they can file for a secret ballot vote.

Instead of ceding her workplace voice when her secret ballot vote petition was dismissed under Lamons Gasket, Bryant continued the legal battle with help from Foundation staff attorneys.

Foundation attorneys have submitted an appeal to the NLRB asking the Board to overturn Lamons Gasket and restore workers’ protections against the coercive tactics union officials use to force their monopoly bargaining privileges onto employees.

Such protections are especially important for workers in states like Washington that lack Right to Work protections. In those states, private sector employees can be forced to pay fees as a condition of employment to a union about which they never even had the chance to vote.

“Ms. Bryant’s situation reveals the coercive nature of a card check drive, and why the Trump Labor Board must end the Obama Board’s disastrous precedent,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Ray LaJeunesse. “The Lamons Gasket decision means that workers can be forced to pay union fees even if the majority of the workplace wants to vote out the union. Workers must be allowed to fight back against this coercive process.”

Foundation staff attorneys also filed unfair labor practice charges, still under NLRB investigation, for Bryant against the union and hotel management for coercive tactics used in the union card check process.

7 Dec 2018

Michigan Right to Work Enforcement: 6 Years and More Than 100 Cases Later

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2018 edition.

Foundation legal action still critical to enforcing Wolverine State Right to Work Laws

Susan Junak

Foundation staff attorneys represent a number of Michigan workers, including public school teacher Susan Junak, defending their rights under the state’s Right to Work laws.

MICHIGAN – Since the 2012 passage of Right to Work legislation in the Wolverine State, Foundation staff attorneys have provided free legal assistance to Michigan workers in more than a hundred cases. With 41 ongoing cases and another 61 closed as of the publication of this article, Michigan cases continue to make up a disproportionate amount of the Foundation’s caseload of approximately 220-230 active cases at any given time. Developments in Foundation legal cases in recent months show that despite dozens of victories for workers, Michigan union bosses continue to attempt to force workers to pay dues despite the Right to Work laws.

Michigan Workers Face Illegal Forced-Dues Demands

After Michigan’s Right to Work Law covering government employees went into effect, school district employees Ryan Woodward and Susan Junak each attempted to exercise their rights under the law by submitting union membership resignations and dues check-off authorization revocations to the Michigan Education Association (MEA) union, only to have their dues revocations ignored. Indeed, MEA officials threatened to collect the dues with lawsuits.

With free legal representation from Foundation staff attorneys, Woodward and Junak won settlements from the MEA. Both settlements require the MEA to end attempts to collect the dues from the two workers. In addition, the union is required to take steps to repair the workers’ credit, if it had been damaged by the union bosses’ attempts to collect the supposedly-owed dues via collection agencies.

Another Foundation Right to Work enforcement victory was won for plaintiff Gordon Alger against Teamsters Local 214. Alger, a building maintenance worker, filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) when the Teamsters union continued to deduct dues from his paycheck after he revoked his deduction authorization. Rather than be prosecuted, Teamsters officials agreed to refund about $300 that was taken from Mr. Alger in violation of his rights under Michigan’s Right to Work protections.

EMTs File Class Action Lawsuit Against United Auto Workers Union

Despite Michigan union bosses repeatedly being caught trying to illegally extort forced dues from workers, one recently filed case further shows that union officials in the state continue to violate the rights of independent-minded Michigan employees.

On September 6, two EMTs in Flint filed a class action lawsuit in Michigan state court against United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 708 and their employer to enforce their rights under the state Right to Work law making union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary. Foundation staff attorneys helped the workers file the lawsuit, which seeks refunds of over $25,000 in illegally seized union dues and fees.

The lawsuit asks for injunctive relief and the return of three years of dues and fees that were collected by UAW officials in violation of Michigan’s private sector Right to Work Law. In addition to the illegal forced dues, the workers were required to be dues-paying members of the UAW – in violation of the law.

Pharmacy Worker Files Charges After Being Forced by the UFCW to Pay Dues

UAW bosses weren’t the only Michigan labor officials on the receiving end of Foundation litigation brought in September for a worker seeking to exercise his or her rights under the state’s Right to Work law.

Days after the lawsuit against the UAW was filed, Rite Aid employee Kolby Klopfenstein-Snyder hit United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 951 with a federal unfair labor practice charge for illegal dues seizures. Klopfenstein-Snyder exercised her rights under Michigan’s Right to Work Law by resigning her union membership only to have union officials refuse to stop seizing union dues.

Her charge, filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), says UFCW officials are violating her rights by continuing to take her dues, even though the union’s own dues deduction card does not authorize the taking of dues from non-members.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, UFCW Local 951 officials are no strangers to violating workers’ freedom of choice protected under the Right to Work law. In 2015, Foundation staff attorneys assisted Laura Fries after she was threatened with the loss of her job by UFCW officials. When she brought the case before the NLRB, which issued a complaint against the union, UFCW officials quickly backed down and reached a settlement.

“Unfortunately for the workers Big Labor claims to represent, Michigan union bosses show no signs of voluntarily complying with Michigan’s popular Right to Work Laws and seeking to earn workers’ support voluntarily,” said Ray LaJeunesse, vice president and legal director of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “As demonstrated by the more than 100 cases filed in Michigan since Right to Work was enacted there, the Foundation’s legal aid program remains vital to protect workers from being forced to fund a union they oppose.”

5 Dec 2018

Foundation Attorneys Win Janus Refunds for Minnesota Court Employees

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2018 edition.

Teamsters officials forced to return every dollar of fees seized, plus interest

Elizabeth Zeien and Carrie Keller

Elizabeth Zeien (left) and Carrie Keller were forced into union ranks and compelled to pay union fees. Thanks to Janus, the two Minnesota state workers have won refunds of their hard-earned money.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Two more workers have received refunds of unconstitutionally seized union fees under the Janus precedent. After being forced into union ranks and required to support a union they oppose, Carrie Keller and Elizabeth Zeien have won a settlement against Teamsters union officials for violating their First Amendment rights.

The refund is a result of the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME decision, which held that no public sector worker can be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Now that union officials have settled their lawsuit, Keller and Zeien are the second and third public sector employees to win refunds in lawsuits under the new Janus precedent of unconstitutionally seized union fees.

Court Workers Forced to Fund Union Against Interests

Neither Keller nor Zeien, employees of the State of Minnesota Court System, was a union member when they started working at the court. They both negotiated their own terms and conditions of employment and salaries free from union interference.

In 2015, Teamsters Local 320 union officials started proceedings to force a number of state employees who were not in monopoly bargaining units into union ranks, in which they could be required to pay union dues and fees.

In March 2017, Minnesota state officials gave in to the Teamsters’ demands and added a number of employees, including Keller and Zeien, to a Teamsters-controlled bargaining unit. The workers were never given a vote on whether they wanted to be part of the union bargaining unit.

The pay scales and benefits Keller and Zeien had as unrepresented employees – and were forced to give up – equaled or exceeded what they now received under the union-mandated contract. To add insult to injury, the two workers were forced to pay compulsory union fees for this unwanted “representation.”

To challenge the forced unionization scheme, the two workers came to Foundation staff attorneys for free legal aid in filing a lawsuit.

Foundation Won First Janus Refund for Oregon Worker

In the Foundation-won Janus ruling, issued on the last day of its term on June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to force government employees to pay any union dues or fees as a condition of employment. The Court also 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.

Deciding to settle the lawsuit after the Janus decision, Teamsters union officials were obligated to refund Keller and Zeien the entirety of the unconstitutionally seized union dues plus interest. No further union dues or fees will be collected from the workers’ wages unless either affirmatively chooses to become a union member and authorizes deductions.

Keller and Zeien join Debora Nearman as the first three government employees who, with free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys, have received their hard-earned money back under Janus. In July, SEIU officials settled with Nearman to return nearly $3,000 in forced-fees refunds.

“These workers are among the first of millions of government employees to finally receive justice for the violation of their rights,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens. “The Foundation will continue to hold union officials accountable when they attempt to force workers into unconstitutional forced-fees schemes.”