3 Feb 2017

Worker Files Brief Against Coercive Union Boss Gerrymandering Scheme

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Union bosses used controversial rule to gain a foothold in Chattanooga VW plant after previous floor-wide votes failed

Washington, D.C. (February 3, 2017) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a worker in the Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagen plant has filed an amicus curiae brief with the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals asking the court to overturn the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that allowed United Auto Workers (UAW) union bosses to gain access to the plant’s workers through a micro-unit scheme.

In February 2014 workers at the plant rejected UAW union representation in an NLRB sanctioned election. Undeterred, UAW bosses sought to gain a foothold in the plant through a 2011 NLRB decision that allows for what is termed “micro-unit organizing.” The recent NLRB decision allows union officials to gerrymander specific groups of employees into micro-units for union representation votes. In December 2015, the UAW used this tactic to win a vote for a micro-unit, thus imposing a coercive one size-fits-all monopoly bargaining contract on those workers.

Patrick Penderfraft is one of the workers in the VW micro-unit who voted against union representation. He opposed the UAW’s gerrymandering of workers to gain a victory in the vote. The Foundation has now assisted him in filing a brief in D.C. Circuit Court arguing that his vote on union representation was diluted because the micro-unit was substantially made up of pro-union employees rather than the whole workplace which had already rejected unionization.

In previous years, Foundation attorneys assisted workers in fighting back against other UAW union boss schemes to unionize the plant, including through card check organizing.

National Right to Work Foundation Mark Mix commented, “The gerrymandering scheme that union bosses used to gain a foothold in the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant is unfair to the workers who voted against union representation only to have the ground rules changed and now are forced into a monopoly union. All workers should have the right to decide on union membership through a secret-ballot election, like the one that took place in 2014 in which union bosses were rejected, instead of through manipulated micro-unit schemes.”

31 Jan 2017

Check out the lead article in the January/February 2017 Foundation Action Newsletter “Foundation Cases Poised to Challenge Forced Dues at Supreme Court”

Posted by in Blog, News Releases

Foundation Cases Poised to Challenge Forced Dues at Supreme Court

Cases to overturn forced dues could quickly reach Supreme Court with new Trump Justice

To read the rest of the January/February 2017 issue, please click here.

Washington, D.C. – Over the past few months, Foundation staff attorneys have been busy litigating hundreds of cases on the behalf of independent-minded workers across the country. Two of those cases have the potential to reach the Supreme Court this year and answer the unresolved questions left in the wake of the 4-4 split in the Fredrichs v. California Teachers Association.

One of those cases, Janus v. AFSCME, stems from an executive order from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner that placed any union fees that nonunion members were forced to pay into an escrow account until the constitutionality of those fees was resolved. Governor Rauner subsequently filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and argued that collecting forced dues or fees from state employees as a condition of employment violated the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Foundation staff attorneys then filed a motion to intervene as plaintiffs for Mark Janus and other state employees who are forced to pay union fees as a condition of employment. A Judge eventually ruled that Governor Rauner did not have standing in court but let the Foundation-represented employees continue to challenge the constitutionality of forced fees.

After the Supreme Court reached a 4-4 deadlock in a similar case earlier this year, Friedrichs v. CTA, a District Judge ruled against Janus and the other state employees. Foundation attorneys immediately filed an appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and are awaiting a decision. It is possible that a petition for a writ of certiorari could be filed with the Supreme Court later this year.

The second case, Serna v. Transportation Workers Union (TWA), is a class-action lawsuit brought by several American Eagle Airlines and Southwest Airlines employees U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas was pending with the Supreme Court as this issue of Foundation Action went to press. That suit challenges the constitutionality of the Railway Labor Act’s sanction of agreements that require compulsory union fees as a condition of employment.

Even though these employees work in the private sector, the Supreme Court has previously ruled that because the Railway Labor Act (RLA) effectively mandates forced fees for railway and airline workers, it effectively fosters the same Constitutional issues as were raised for government employees in Friedrichs. Therefore, success in Serna on the First Amendment claims against forced dues would effectively overturn forced dues for public sector workers.

After the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the airline employees citing the Friedrichs deadlock, Foundation staff attorneys filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court. The Court was scheduled to consider the petition on January 6 and a decision whether to take the case or not could follow shortly after, or the Justices may decide to hold the case in light of the potential for a 4-4 tie until a ninth Justice is seated.

“Both of these cases have the potential to answer the ultimate question that was left unresolved by Friedrichs and that is whether or not it is constitutional to force workers to pay union bosses tribute to get or keep a job,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said.

In addition to Serna and Janus, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have two additional cases working their way through the courts – one on behalf of university professors in Massachusetts and one for school employees in Kentucky – that directly challenge the constitutionality of mandatory union dues. More cases directly challenging the constitutionality of government-mandated forced union dues are expected to be filed by Foundation staff attorneys in 2017.

26 Jan 2017

National Right to Work Foundation Offers Free Legal Aid to Boeing Employees Facing Vote over IAM Monopoly Union Powers

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Foundation staff attorneys previously represented South Carolina Boeing workers against IAM officials who sought to close the North Charleston plant

Springfield, VA (January 26, 2017) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has released a special legal notice for Boeing workers at the North Charleston, SC plant in light of the recent announcement that IAM officials were moving to initiate a vote to impose monopoly control over all frontline employees at the facility.

Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation released the following statement regarding the notice and offer of free legal aid:

“In 2011, IAM union officials sought to eliminate thousands of jobs in South Carolina by filing spurious unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB seeking to shutter the North Charleston facility. In light of the IAM union bosses’ history of denigration and antipathy towards the Charleston workers, the Foundation is deeply concerned that IAM union organizers’ may use intimidation tactics or other illegal conduct in the run up to the vote.

“That is why it is vital that every Boeing South Carolina employee know they can request free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Foundation staff attorneys previously provided legal representation to Boeing employees to successfully defend their jobs against demands by IAM officials that the plant be closed.”

The legal notice details what is at stake in the vote and offers free legal aid to employees facing possible illegal conduct by IAM officials or their agents. The full notice can be found online at: www.nrtw.org/BoeingSC

Affected employees may also call the Foundation’s legal hotline toll-free at 1-800-336-3600 or contact the Foundation online at http://www.nrtw.org/free-legal-aid to request free legal assistance.

23 Jan 2017

Pro-Right to Work Missouri Workers File Lawsuits Challenging Language of Union Boss-Backed Forced Dues Ballot Measures

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Outgoing Secretary of State approved Big Labor-backed measures hours before leaving office in apparent political kickback

Jefferson City, MO (January 23, 2017) – With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys three Missouri workers filed legal challenges against ten separate initiative-petitions that could wipe out a potential Missouri Right to Work law and strip away any newly-won Right to Work protections for them and hundreds of thousands of other Missouri workers.

Although statutorily required to draft summary statements to inform petition signers and voters of the effect of the proposed amendments, former Secretary of State Kander’ s midnight actions seem designed to hide from Missouri voters the ballot measures would put in Missouri’s constitution. None of the proposals even mention the Right to Work law that they are designed to render unconstitutional.

With a Right to Work bill likely to pass the Missouri Legislature in the coming weeks, and Governor Eric Greitens pledging to sign the bill into law, union bosses scrambled to put numerous initiative-petitions to kill the law on Big Labor friendly Jason Kander’ s desk for his approval before he left office. Secretary Kander approved all ten just hours before vacating his office. They would appear on the 2018 general election ballot if they obtain a sufficient number of voter’s signatures.

Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement:

These deliberately misleading initiative petitions are nothing more than an attempt by Big Labor to confuse voters in hope that the confusion will result in overturning popular Right to Work protections.

Missourians should be outraged that outgoing Secretary of State Jason Kander, who was supported by thousands of dollars of forced dues in his recent unsuccessful Senate campaign, granted union bosses this huge political payoff just before stepping out of office. All workers should have the right to get or keep a job without having to pay tribute to a union boss, and those rights should not be put in jeopardy because of a political favor given to union hours before he leaves office.

18 Jan 2017

Foundation Releases Special Notice For Kentucky Workers

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Special Notice Informs Employees of Their Newly-Won Rights

Springfield, VA (January 18, 2017) – Today the National Right to Work Foundation released a Special Legal Notice for workers in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, informing them of their rights under the nation’s most recently passed State Right to Work law. Kentucky’s Right to Work law allows workers to cease being a member of the union and stop paying any dues, fees, or other financial support to an unwanted union.

The Kentucky Right to Work law applies to collective bargaining contracts entered into, extended, or renewed on or after January 7, 2017. If you are subject to a contract in effect before January 7, 2017, you can be compelled to either pay union dues as a union member or fees as a nonmember until that contract expires or is renewed or extended. Even if you are subject to a contract in effect before January 7, 2017, nonmembers have the right to object to a portion of those fees and pay reduced fees until the Right to Work law is effective for you. For more information on the law and the new protections for Kentucky workers, please click here.

18 Jan 2017

Public Employees in Three States File Federal Lawsuits to End Public Sector Forced Union Dues

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National Right to Work Foundation cases follow up on Supreme Court split on constitutionality of mandatory union fees for government employees

Springfield, VA (January 18, 2017) – Government employees – including Pennsylvania teachers, California medical center employees, and New York school employees – across the nation are filing three new federal court cases challenging the constitutionality of public sector union officials’ forced dues powers. These cases, being filed today with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation, argue that state requirements that the plaintiffs pay mandatory union fees as a condition of government employment violate the First Amendment.

Nearly 40 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in that public-sector workers could 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 a 1978 precedent in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case, expressing skepticism about the constitutionality of public sector union officials’ forced-dues privileges.

Assisted by staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation, two California Santa Clara Valley Medical Center pharmacists – Jeffery Lum and Andrew Li –are filing suit against SEIU officials in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose assisted by Foundation staff attorneys.

Three school workers in New York state have filed suit against the electrical workers union and Governor Cuomo in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in Utica.

In Pennsylvania, the Foundation is working with the Fairness Center on behalf of four schoolteachers from three school districts that have filed suit against the Pennsylvania State Education Association union in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.

A similar challenge came before the Supreme Court last year, in Freidrichs v. CTA. While the Court ended up tied 4-4 in Friedrichs after the death of Justice Scalia, these three new cases join the growing number of lawsuits that challenge forced dues and fees in the public sector. Foundation staff attorneys have previously filed cases on the issue in Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

“It takes a lot of courage to stand up for freedom,” said Rebecca Freidrichs, lead plaintiff in Freidrichs v. CTA. “I’m so proud of and cheering for these four courageous Pennsylvania teachers, three brave New York school employees, and two more Californians who are standing up for our hard fought liberties and bringing these cases – it is my prayer they will be victorious so all Americans can have their First Amendment rights restored.”

Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation issued the following statement on the three new cases:

“It is wrong that public employees are forced by the state government to pay fees and dues to a third party, a union, in order to keep their job as school teachers and public servants. For too long, the rights of public employees have been trampled by states that require them to pay dues to a labor union just to get or keep a government job.

“Over eighty percent of Americans support the right of all employees to work without being forced to pay tribute to union officials. Many public sector employees oppose the one-size-fits-all union monopoly bargaining contract, which makes it even more shameful that the government turns around and then forces these public servants to pay union officials for so-called representation they never wanted in the first place.”

17 Jan 2017

New York Verizon Workers Win Settlement Against Union Officials For Illegal Retaliation

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CWA Union officials illegally attempted to levy five figure fines against Verizon employees who exercised rights to work despite union boss-initiated work stoppage

New York, NY (January 17, 2017) – In mid-October, 2016, seven Verizon employees filed federal unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union for violating federal labor law. The violations came after the employees exercised their right to resign their union memberships during a high profile union boss-ordered strike last year.

After CWA union officials ordered the strike, the workers chose to resign from the union and return to work. Later they were notified by CWA officials that they were being tried on internal “union discipline” charges, despite the fact that these workers were not union members when they returned to work and thus are protected by federal law.

On September 15th, the union held an internal union trial and fined the workers for going to work. Soon after, the workers were informed by letter that they had been fined sums of between nine and thirteen thousand dollars each.

Now, CWA Local 1107 union officials were required to settle the NLRB charges filed against them. The settlement requires that a notice describing the workers’ rights, and stating that the illegal fines imposed by the union bosses have been rescinded, be posted in the facility where the workers are employed.

“Union officials were caught red-handed violating the rights of workers with illegal five-figure fines just because the employees exercised their right to return to work in order to support their families,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Although these employees have won their legal battle, it is outrageous that these types of illegal retaliatory fines remain common when workers choose to exercise their right to remain on the job and defy union-ordered strike demands.”

13 Jan 2017

Foundation Case on Petition to U.S. Supreme Court Picks up Amicus Brief

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Constitutional challenge would free childcare providers from being forced to accept unwanted union ‘representation’

On December 9th, a group of New York childcare providers, with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, petitioned the Supreme Court to strike down a compulsory unionism scheme on First Amendment grounds. The childcare providers are challenging a New York law that empowers union officials to speak for all childcare providers, including those who have not joined and do not support the union, when bargaining with state government.

Foundation attorneys argue that the current arrangement violates the providers’ First Amendment right to choose with whom they associate to petition their government by naming a union as their state-designated lobbyist.

Recently, The Pacific Legal Foundation together with the Goldwater Institute, Fairness Center, Pioneer Institute, and Empire Center, filed an amicus brief supporting the petition, arguing that Americans cannot be compelled to speak or associate, or petition the government, against their wishes. To read the full brief please click here and to learn more about the case click here.

11 Jan 2017

Worker Advocate Files Amicus Brief in Support of Personal Care Providers Seeking Refund of Illegally Seized Union Dues

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National Right to Work Foundation brief filed with 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says union bosses should not keep dues seized in scheme ruled unconstitutional by U.S. Supreme Court in Foundation-won Harris case

San Francisco CA (January 11, 2017) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has filed an amicus curiae brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Hoffman, Routh, Eby, Olson v. Inslee in support of homecare workers in the state of Washington seeking a return of illegally seized union fees. The providers bringing the case are among the thousands of personal care provers in Washington State who had union dues illegally confiscated from them in a mandatory union dues scheme later ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court.

The United States Supreme Court outlined these rights in Harris v. Quinn, argued and won by Foundation staff attorneys in 2014. Harris held that the collection of forced union dues from home-based caregivers violated their First Amendment rights. The ruling struck down the scheme in Illinois, but the precedent established rendered similar schemes in other states, including Washington, unconstitutional.

In the amicus brief, Foundation attorneys argue that under Harris v. Quinn the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has no lawful authority to take the provider’s money and that now SEIU officials have no more right to keep the money than any individual or business that illegally confiscates money from a victim against their will.

“It is outrageous that forced dues seized under a scheme struck down by the Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn have not yet been returned to the victims of the SEIU’s unconstitutional forced dues scheme,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “SEIU bosses have no more right to these providers’ money than a thief has to keep the money stolen during an armed robbery.”

10 Jan 2017

National Right to Work Foundation Launches Kentucky Task Force to Defend and Enforce New Right to Work Law

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Foundation staff attorneys will provide free legal aid to Bluegrass State workers seeking to exercise new Right to Work protections

Springfield, VA (January 10, 2017) –
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced today the creation of a special task force to defend and enforce Kentucky’s newly-passed Right to Work law. Foundation staff attorneys will offer free legal advice and aid to Bluegrass State workers seeking to exercise their rights to refrain from union membership and union dues payment, guaranteed by the Right to Work law.

On Saturday January 7, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed into law Right to Work legislation, thereby making Kentucky the nation’s newest and 27th Right to Work state.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has a long history of assisting employees seeking to exercise their Right to Work rights, most recently under Right to Work provisions enacted in West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Foundation staff attorneys are prepared to defend the Kentucky Right to Work law from any spurious legal challenges brought by union officials. Big Labor, unwilling to give up their forced-dues powers, routinely challenges Right to Work laws in courts despite the fact that Right to Work laws have repeatedly been upheld.

Unfortunately, union officials also often try to stymie independent-minded workers who seek to exercise their rights under Right to Work laws. Any Kentucky worker who has questions about his or her rights, or encounters any resistance or abuse while trying to exercise his or her workplace rights, is encouraged to contact Foundation staff attorneys for free legal aid.

“It’s not enough to enact Right to Work protections; they must be vigorously defended and enforced,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. Union bosses will go to great lengths to keep workers in their forced-dues grasp. The National Right to Work Foundation will fight to make sure that every Kentuckian’s Right to Work is protected, because no worker should ever be forced to pay union dues or fees just to get or keep a job.”

Staff attorneys are preparing a special legal notice to be released in the coming days to inform all Kentucky workers of their new workplace rights. In addition to its Kentucky task force, the Foundation is also currently active in defending state Right to Work laws in Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Idaho against union lawsuits.

Affected employees are encouraged to call the Foundation’s legal hotline toll-free at 1-800-336-3600 or contact the Foundation online at www.nrtw.org to request free legal assistance or to learn more about their new rights.