Illinois Care Providers Ask Supreme Court to Take Case Challenging Forced Union ‘Representation’ Law
Home and Childcare Providers ask the court to strike down unwanted ‘representation’ as a violation of the First Amendment
Washington, D.C. (June 6, 2017) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Illinois-based Liberty Justice Center staff attorneys, six personal care and child care providers today petitioned the Supreme Court to strike down a compulsory unionism scheme that grants Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials exclusive monopoly “bargaining” powers with state government for thousands of Illinois caregivers – including many who never joined the union and oppose the union’s so-called ‘representation.’
In the brief, Foundation staff attorneys contend that the state law infringes on the providers’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to associate with a union they do not wish to join or support. Granting the union exclusive power to deal with the State of Illinois over caregiving practices violates the caregivers’ right to choose with whom they associate to petition their own government.
The caregiver’s petition to the Supreme Court in Hill, follows the Right to Work Foundation’s landmark 2014 Supreme Court victory in Harris v. Quinn, which was also filed on behalf of several home-based Illinois care providers. That decision prohibited union officials from collecting mandatory dues or fees from home-based caregivers.
The Hill petition argues that although the Harris case dealt with compelled fees, because the Court ruled that the state’s justification for mandatory fees was insufficient under the First Amendment, the Supreme Court should strike down the compelled association on the same grounds. The petition asks the Court to take the case so that it can apply the same standard to the First Amendment infringements created when state law forces home care providers to accept a government-appointed monopoly union agent against their will. Foundation staff attorneys have also helped home and childcare providers challenge similar schemes in Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Washington State.
“It is outrageous that across the country state laws force home and child care providers to accept unwanted ‘representation’ from a union they have no interest in joining or supporting,” commented Foundation President Mark Mix. “This is a clear violation of providers’ freedom of association and we are hopeful that this case will build on the Foundation’s landmark 2014 victory in Harris v. Quinn and end these corrupt forced unionism schemes for good.”
New Mexico Worker Hits Employer and Union with Federal Unfair Labor Practice Charges for Coercion and Threats
Worker was threatened with termination unless she signed a dues ‘checkoff’ card and paid full union dues
Albuquerque, NM (June 2, 2017) – With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, a Rio Rancho school cafeteria worker has filed federal unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Sodexo, Inc (SDXAY:US), and the Western States Regional Joint Board Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Yumiko Traylor is employed by a subsidiary of Sodexo, Inc, as a cafeteria cook in the Rio Rancho, New Mexico, public school system. Currently SEIU officials have a monopoly bargaining agreement with the Sodexo subsidiary, SDH Education West, LLC, that employs Traylor.
On March 8, 2017, Traylor was told by Sodexo that her employment would be terminated if she did not sign a union membership card to join the SEIU and allow Sodexo to deduct union dues and fees from her paycheck and deliver the money directly to the SEIU. Traylor refused to sign the membership card. Because New Mexico is not a Right to Work state, nonmember workers can be forced to pay a portion of union dues as a condition of employment. However, employees who exercise their right to refrain from membership cannot be forced to pay the portion of union dues that goes towards union boss politics and lobbying activities.
On April 28, Sodexo issued Traylor a written warning that she would be terminated unless she signed the membership card. A week later on May 5, Sodexo told Traylor that unless she joined the SEIU and paid dues, it would issue a second written warning that signing the union membership card is a condition of employment. Afraid that she would lose her job for exercising her federally protected right to refuse to join a union, Traylor signed the membership card under protest. At no point did Sodexo or SEIU officials explain her rights and options to remain a nonmember, not sign a membership or ‘checkoff’ card, and pay a reduced fee instead of full union dues.
Traylor approached the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation for assistance, and filed federal unfair labor practice charges in mid-May. The charges will now be investigated by the NLRB Region 28 office in Albuquerque.
“No worker should be afraid to exercise their federally protected right to join, or in this case, refuse to join a union,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Rather than attempting to attract the voluntary support of the workers they claim to ‘represent,’ we frequently see union officials attempt to trap workers into dues payments with threats and coercion.”
“Cases like this show why New Mexico needs a Right to Work law to protect workers from coercion and intimidation by union bosses and their crony company officials,” concluded Mix.
Foundation President Mark Mix’s exclusive op-ed on Ending the Obama Labor Board Majority was published in the Friday print and e-print edition of The Washington Times
Below is an exert from the piece. Please click here to read the full op-ed.
“Elections have consequences, or at least they are supposed to. Unfortunately for the rights of independent workers who don’t want to associate with a labor union, more than 100 days have passed since Barack Obama left office, but the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) remains in the hands of an Obama majority intent on pushing the limits of Big Labor’s forced unionism powers. It doesn’t need to be that way.
The five-seat NLRB, with two vacancies, remains controlled by a two-to-one Obama majority. Until two new members are nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate, the Big Labor majority will continue to issue rulings to expand union boss powers.”
Newsmax published Foundation President Mark Mix’s op-ed on the Obama National Labor Relations Board’s assault on independent-minded workers over the past eight years and its effects today. Below is an exert from the piece.
Maureen Madden is a bookkeeper at Lakeside Foods, a unionized independent grocery store located in greater Chicago. Early this March, Madden filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), cosigned by every other unionized employee at the store, asking that United Food and Commercials Workers (UFCW) Local 1456 be “decertified.”
In plain English, that means that not a single one of the employees wanted UFCW officials to continue wielding monopoly power to negotiate their terms and conditions of employment.
To read the rest of the op-ed please click here.
MO Right to Work supporters object to deceptive proposed constitutional amendment language approved by former Secretary of State
St. Louis, MO (May 24, 2017) – A group of Missouri workers have a hearing today in their lawsuit challenging the deceptive ballot language on a set of constitutional amendments that would effectively repeal Missouri’s popular new Right to Work law. The three Missourians are represented by a staff attorney from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Seeing the writing on the wall for passage of a Missouri state Right to Work law making union membership and dues payment strictly voluntary, Mike Louis, the Missouri AFL-CIO’s top official, submitted to the Missouri Secretary of State ten proposed amendments to the state constitution. Each of the proposals seek to overturn Missouri’s Right to Work law enacted in February.
The workers’ lawsuit challenges the summary statements and ballot language for the amendments as confusing and misleading. The language was approved by outgoing Secretary of State Jason Kander who ran a failed U.S. Senate campaign that was funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars in union contributions. He approved the ballot language just hours before vacating office, ignoring the fact that none of the petitions even mentioned the Right to Work law that they are designed to nullify. The amendments would appear on the 2018 ballot if union organizers obtain a sufficient number of signatures.
If any of the Big Labor-backed constitutional amendments are put on the ballot and approved by the voters, they would repeal the new Right to Work law and block future passage of any state legislation to protect workers from mandatory union fees. Any future attempt to pass Right to Work would first require another amendment of the state constitution.
In late March, in response to the lawsuit filed by three pro-Right to Work employees with free legal representation provided by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Judge Beetem of the Cole County Circuit court ruled that the proposed language was “unfair and insufficient.” He ordered that the ballot language be rewritten to be more balanced and clearly reflect that the proposed constitutional amendments would repeal Right to Work in Missouri.
The workers then filed a technical appeal so that they can defend the Circuit Court’s decision from union lawyers’ efforts to overturn it and reinstate the misleading language. The hearing in the appeal will be in the Western Division of the Missouri Court of Appeals’ courthouse in Kansas City at 1:30 p.m. Central Time.
“Big Labor continues to resort to any tactic in an attempt to block Missouri’s new Right to Work law,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Big Labor knows that the citizens of Missouri believe it is wrong for an employee to be fired simply for refusing to pay union dues or fees to a union boss. That’s why the union bosses are so intent on confusing voters about their goal of restoring their forced dues powers.”
The workers have also filed a lawsuit opposing the language proposed for a Right to Work law repeal referendum filed by the AFL-CIO. That lawsuit alleges that the approved language of the repeal referendum, which would put Missouri’s Right to Work law on hold pending a statewide vote, amazingly, includes grammatical errors and does not meet the statutory requirements that govern the process.
Union Officials Hit with Federal Labor Charges For Blocking Oklahoma Worker’s Right to Leave Union, End Dues Payments
Charge states UFCW union officials deliberately violating protections for workers who want to resign their union membership
Guymon, OK (May 23, 2017) – With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, a local worker has filed federal unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the United Food and Commercial Workers District Union Local 2 (UFCW).
Santos Muz Pu is an employee of Seaboard Foods, LLC, in Guymon, Oklahoma. The UFCW Local 2 has a monopoly bargaining contract with Seaboard Foods at the Guymon facility. In early 2017, Muz requested a copy of his union dues check-off authorization from the UFCW union office in Guymon, but officials refused to honor his request.
On February 13, Muz resigned from the UFCW and revoked his dues check-off in a certified letter to the Wichita, KS office after the local union office refused to tell Muz where to send his resignation and dues check-off revocation. However, Muz’s letter was returned due to an undisclosed change in the union’s address.
When Muz contacted the Guymon UFCW office again for assistance, UFCW officials refused to provide any information and threatened him, saying that he would lose his insurance, overtime pay, and paid holidays and vacation days if he left the union.
In late March, Muz was informed in a letter from the Bel-Air, KS, UFCW office that his dues-checkoff revocation was being rejected. That letter alleged that Muz’s check-off revocation was untimely and had not come at the proper time, as well as being submitted to the wrong UFCW office. UFCW bosses continue to seize dues from his paycheck.
In April, Muz reached out to the National Right to Work Foundation for assistance. With free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys, Muz has now filed federal unfair labor practice charges against the UFCW for obstructing and interfering with his resignation and revocation attempts. The charges will be investigated by the NLRB Region 14 office in Tulsa, OK.
“In their desire to maintain their forced dues monopoly, union bosses have given this worker the runaround and refused to accept his resignation and check-off revocation,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Rather than attempting to attract the voluntary support of the workers they claim to ‘represent,’ we frequently see union officials attempt to trap workers into dues payments with bureaucratic hurdles and illegal schemes, even in Right to Work states where union membership and financial support are voluntary.”
“Cases like this show that, even in Right to Work states, protections for workers against forced unionism must be vigilantly enforced or else union officials will simply ignore the law and illegally threaten employees,” concluded Mix.
Operating Engineers union bosses continue to demand forced dues in defiance of the National Labor Relations Act
Milwaukee, WI (May 23, 2017) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, a Milwaukee-area worker has filed federal unfair labor practice charges against the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 139 for refusing to accept his dues checkoff revocation and threatening him with termination unless he paid union dues in conduct that violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The worker, Anthony Arnold, is employed at United Rentals in Brookfield, Wisconsin. On August 15, 2015, Arnold sent the union a letter resigning his formal union membership and objecting to paying full union dues. About the same time Arnold also sent a letter to the union revoking his dues checkoff authorization.
When union officials failed to respond and grant his requests, Arnold sent an additional letter to the union in December 2016 stating that he previously had sent letters expressing his right to resign and revoke his dues checkoff authorization. Additionally, he asked for the exact amount of union fees he was required to pay each month and explanation of a mysterious deduction that only said “139 App & Pen.”
In January 2017 the union responded with a letter saying that they would not terminate his dues checkoff authorization until July 1, 2017. The letter did not provide Arnold with all of the financial information he had requested including information about the “139 App & Pen” charge. Arnold’s checkoff card does not include language stating that he signed it irrespective of union membership, which means that he can revoke it at will, according to NLRA case law.
On April 13, 2017, Arnold received another letter from the union. This letter stated that he was behind sixty days in paying his dues–even though he is not a member of the union and had expressed his right to not pay full union dues–and that if he did not pay these dues by the end of month, the union would seek his termination. Fearing for the loss of his job, Arnold paid the union the fees demanded under protest.
“It is outrageous that IUOE union bosses are blatantly violating the NLRA by extorting payment of union dues through threats against a worker’s employment,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “These officials’ thuggish tactics against Mr. Arnold shows the importance of vigorous enforcement of the law.”
There are multiple media reports that Communications Workers of America (CWA) union officials are ordering all union-represented workers to walk off the job starting at 3:00 PM EST May 19. As a result of numerous legal inquires the National Right to Work Foundation has released a special legal notice to AT&T employees affected by the announcement of a strike by Communications Workers of America (CWA) union officials.
Affected AT&T employees need to know they have rights that CWA union officials will not tell them. To learn about these rights please read the special legal notice.
Employees who have additional questions can contact the Foundation for free legal aid.
PA teachers opposed to public sector forced unionism ask court to rule against them to move case toward U.S. Supreme Court
Pittsburgh, PA (May 19, 2017) – Four Pennsylvania teachers have filed a brief in federal court seeking judgment in their case against the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) union. The teachers are represented by staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Fairness Center.
These teachers, led by lead plaintiff Greg Hartnett, are challenging the constitutionality of mandatory union dues and fees for public-sector employees. The teachers are employed by three different school districts and have filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. Their case joins six other National Right to Work Foundation-litigated cases in other states that seek to win a ruling on the issue from the United States Supreme Court.
Nearly 40 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that public-sector workers can be compelled as a condition of employment to pay union fees. However, in two recent National Right to Work Foundation-won Supreme Court decisions, Knox v. SEIU (2012) and Harris v. Quinn (2014), the High Court suggested it was ready to revisit its 1977 precedent in Abood, expressing skepticism about the constitutionality of public sector union officials’ forced-dues privileges.
In the majority opinion in Knox v. SEIU, which struck down a Service Employee International Union (SEIU) forced dues scheme, Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “This form of compelled speech and association imposes a ‘significant impingement on First Amendment rights.’ The justification for permitting a union to collect fees from nonmembers – to prevent them from free-riding on the union’s efforts – is an anomaly.”
The brief filed in Hartnett notes that, because lower courts are bound by past Supreme Court precedents, only the Supreme Court could issue the ruling the teachers seek. The brief therefore asks the district court to grant judgement against the teachers to clear the way for this case to move to the U.S. Court of Appeals and eventually to the Supreme Court.
“Americans overwhelmingly agree that forced dues are wrong. It is an especially egregious violation of the First Amendment for public servants to be required to subsidize union officials’ speech as a condition of working for their own government,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “In Knox the Supreme Court majority acknowledged that compulsory union dues create a serious impingement on the First Amendment rights of public employees. That case only challenged an increase in forced fees imposed without notice. In this case, the teachers are simply asking that the High Court apply the same strict scrutiny to all public sector forced union fees.”
Twenty-nine states have laws that protect public school teachers from forced unionism. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.
Appeals Court to Hear Illinois Homecare Providers’ Case Seeking More Than $32 Million in Illegally Seized Union Dues
Despite Supreme Court ruling that the SEIU’s dues scheme was illegal, union officials refuse to refund workers’ money
Chicago, IL (May 17, 2017) – Today, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorney Bill Messenger will argue before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on behalf of Illinois homecare personal assistants in Riffey v. SEIU. The case attempts to win back more than thirty-two million dollars in forced dues illegally seized by a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) scheme that the U.S. Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional in the 2014 Foundation-won Harris v. Quinn decision.
The case stems from an executive order issued by former Governor Rob Blagojevich that classified as “public employees” more than 20,000 individuals who provide in-home care to disabled persons receiving state subsidies” which meant that the providers could be unionized. As a result, these in-home care givers, many of them parents caring for their own children, were targets of coercive “card-check” union organizing drives.
Staff attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation assisted eight of these providers in filing a federal lawsuit challenging the scheme and eventually in petitioning the Supreme Court to hear the case. The High Court took the case and, on June 30, 2014, it Court ruled that SEIU’s forced dues scheme imposed by Governor Blagojevich is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment rights of the in-home care providers.
“If we accepted Illinois’ argument” that homecare workers can be forced to pay union dues, wrote Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. in the majority opinion, “we would approve an unprecedented violation of the bedrock principle that, except perhaps in the rarest of circumstances, no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support.”
After the Supreme Court’s June 2014 ruling in Harris – now designated Riffey v. SEIU – the case was remanded to the District Court to settle the remaining issues, including whether SIEU would be required to return more than $32 million in dues confiscated from nonmembers through its unconstitutional scheme.
In June 2016, the District Court ruled that SEIU did not have to repay these funds. That decision was immediately appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals where Foundation staff attorney Bill Messenger will appear today.
“If SEIU union bosses are allowed to keep the millions in unconstitutionally seized dues it would be outrageous and a perversion of justice,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “These homecare providers should not have to jump through all these hoops just to get the money that is rightfully theirs after the Supreme Court ruled the dues seizures unconstitutional.”