New York Childcare Providers Ask Supreme Court to Strike Down Forced Unionization Scheme on First Amendment Grounds
Constitutional challenge would free childcare providers from being forced to accept unwanted union ‘representation’
Washington, DC (December 9, 2016) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a group of New York childcare providers have 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.
The providers seek to halt implementation of a New York law that designates the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) as the exclusive bargaining agent for thousands of in-state childcare providers. Under the law, CSEA officials are empowered to negotiate with the State of New York over the providers’ professional practices and a public subsidy they receive for caregiving. The affected providers are either small business owners or family members who care for the children of relatives.
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.
The caregivers’ petition builds on the National Right to Work Foundation’s 2014 Supreme Court victory in Harris v. Quinn, which outlawed the collection of mandatory union dues from home-based caregivers. Prior to that decision, the New York law the petitioners are challenging empowered union officials to collect forced dues from all home-based childcare providers. According to Foundation staff attorneys, the Harris precedent suggests that caregivers should also be free from the burden of accepting an unwanted union’s bargaining and mandatory representation.
Foundation staff attorneys are helping home and childcare providers challenge similar schemes in Minnesota, Illinois, Oregon, and Washington State.
“Small business owners and those who help care for relatives’ children should not be forced to associate with labor union officials they have no interest in supporting,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “We hope the Supreme Court takes this opportunity to outlaw government-imposed monopoly union representation for home-based care providers as incompatible with the First Amendment.”
Charter school employees increasingly are targets for forced unionization
Springfield, VA (December 9, 2016) – The National Right to Work Foundation is stepping up its efforts to inform charter school teachers and other employees of the legal rights they have to refrain from compulsory unionism. As part of the effort, Foundation staff attorneys are attending charter school conferences in Ohio and Louisiana this month.
Sending Foundation attorneys to these charter school conferences is part of a growing initiative of the Foundation’s legal information program to ensure charter school employees are fully aware of their rights and are able to make an informed decision in regards to unionization.
Union bosses have historically been steadfastly opposed to the existence of charter schools because they see them as a threat to their monopoly over students and teachers. However, as the popularity of charter schools has continued to grow, union officials have been increasingly targeting charter school employees as new sources of forced dues to fill their depleting coffers.
“Teachers and students alike are flocking to charter schools in part because they are largely free of the teacher union monopoly that puts union boss power ahead of what is best for teachers, students and their communities,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix commented. “Sending Foundation staff attorneys to these conferences is a crucial part of our charter school initiative to ensure charter school employees are able to make informed decisions about union representation in an atmosphere free from union boss threats, harassment, coercion, or misrepresentation.”
To learn more about the Foundation’s charter school initiative and the legal rights charter school employees have, please visit www.nrtw.org/your-rights-charter.
Charter school teachers, or any other employee who finds themselves the victim of compulsory unionism abuses can contact the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to request free legal assistance at anytime by calling 1-800-336-3600 or by going to www.nrtw.org/free-legal-aid/
Workers Hit Unions with Federal Charges for Illegal Union Dues Seizures Despite Worker Vote to End the Compulsion
Union bosses continue to seize forced dues from over 50 workers
Washington, D.C. (December 6, 2016) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, two local workers have filed unfair labor practice charges against the International Union of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) and its Local 247.
The charges state that union officials continue to seize union dues from their and other employees’ paychecks despite a deauthorization election that eliminated the forced dues clause from the workplace bargaining agreement. Dues check off revocation letters sent to the union by the two workers and many others were ignored.
Troy Golson and Yasir Maatoug work as security guards in the Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington, D.C. In November 2015 employees in their company, Coastal International Security, successfully won a deauthorization election against the SPFPA union. A deauthorization election can be called by employees to remove the forced-unionism clause that allows union bosses to have a worker fired for refusing to pay the union dues or fees.
After the vote, nearly 100 Coastal employees sent union officials a dues check off revocation letter, which legally stops the collection of forced dues by the union from their paychecks. However, union officials ignored some of the letters and continued seizing dues from at least 50 employees’ paychecks, erroneously claiming workers could not stop payment except in a union-determined “window period.”
Under current National Labor Relations Board law, workers who win a deauthorization election have the right to halt automatic deductions from their paychecks immediately simply by sending the union a revocation letter.
“This is yet another example of union bosses trying to get every last penny in forced dues they can from the workers they claim to ‘represent,’” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “No worker should have to jump through all these hoops just to exercise their legal right. The District of Columbia needs to adopt a Right to Work law to ensure that the right to refrain from union membership or fees is guaranteed for all workers.
Right to Work Foundation attorneys filed a motion to intervene for pro-Right to Work Greenbrier hotel employee who opposes mandatory union dues
Charleston, WV (December 5, 2016) – With the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, an employee at the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia has filed a motion to intervene in the ongoing lawsuit concerning the recently passed West Virginia Right to Work Law.
Reginald Gibbs, a slot machine technician at the Greenbrier, seeks to intervene in the court case AFL-CIO v. Tomblin that is currently before the Kanawha County Circuit court. The unions’ complaint challenges the West Virginia Right to Work law enacted in February 2016.
Gibbs’ motion argues that, if the law is overturned or blocked by a judicial order, it would force Gibbs to continue to pay fees to a union with which he does not wish to associate. Mr. Gibbs wishes to intervene to support the law because he believes that it is his right to be free from compulsory unionism, and as a worker currently employed at a location with a compulsory unionism agreement, he will suffer from direct harm if union lawyers win their case.
Although the State of West Virginia is already defending the law in the case, the motion notes that Gibbs has a special interest in defending Right to Work and his attorneys can offer legal arguments distinct from those raised by state lawyers.
“Big Labor’s latest attack on the Right to Work comes in a state where there is overwhelmingly support for the measure,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “That’s why we’re committed to defend the rights of workers against any attempt to delay or overturn West Virginia’s law making union membership and dues payment strictly voluntary.”
Foundation attorneys have already filed two amicus briefs defending the law in this court battle. Foundation attorneys argue that West Virginia’s law is fully constitutional as are the 25 similar state Right to Work laws that are currently in force.
“This lawsuit is very similar to the cases now pending in Wisconsin and Idaho,” continued Mix. “Big Labor’s lawyers are pushing to find any possible loophole they can use to attack worker freedom to protect the union bosses’ forced dues cash flow.”
Union officials forced to settle case involving illegal strike fine threats against nurse who refused to abandon patients
Minneapolis, MN (December 2, 2016) – After months of waiting, Minnesota nurse Crystal Rehbein has finally won her battle against the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) union officials who tried to discipline her for resigning from the union and continuing to take care of her patients in defiance of a union boss-ordered walkout.
In early June of this year, Rehbein sent a certified letter resigning her membership in the MNA, shortly before the MNA hierarchy announced a weeklong strike at Allina Health Hospitals. As a non-member, Rehbein then exercised her right to continue working and take care of her patients. Following the strike, she was notified by the union brass that her resignation had been rejected, and the MNA continued forcing her to pay dues.
In early August, MNA officials informed Rehbein that internal charges had been brought against her for continuing to work during the strike, and threatened her with fines, reprimand, or censure. Consequently, Rehbein, with the assistance of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, then filed federal unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, stating that the union charges and continued collection of dues were unlawful.
Finding merit to Rehbein’s filing, the NLRB Region 18 office arranged a settlement in the case. Under the settlement, MNA officials must post a notice for 60 days in the hospitals where Rehbein and two other charging parties work, notifying all MNA members of their rights. Those rights include, but are not limited to, the right to resign at any time without any specific form, the right to pay dues on a monthly basis if they so choose, and most importantly the right of non-members to continue working during a strike without penalties and threats from the union representatives.
“This is a victory for a brave nurse who chose to exercise her right to continue to work and provide for her family, and to continue providing medical care to her patients,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Sadly, cases like this just emphasize how much Minnesota needs a Right to Work law to protect its workers from these kinds of tactics used by Big Labor operatives.”
Chicago, IL (November 28, 2016) – According to reports, workers at O’Hare International Airport have been ordered by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) union bosses to strike beginning November 29.
Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement to these workers:
“All too often union officials initiate strikes to further their own power even if striking is not in the best interest of rank-and-file workers, or of the public at large. Affected workers need to know that federal labor law is clear: any worker has the right to remain on the job during a strike if the business remains open. Further, all workers have the right to resign from union membership before crossing a picket line and thus avoid fines and other internal union discipline for going to work.”
To learn more about your rights and how to exercise those rights please click here.
Workers may contact the Foundation through its website www.NRTW.org or by calling the Foundation’s toll-free hotline: 1-800-336-3600. It is very important that affected workers understand their rights, and that they may turn to the Foundation for free legal aid if they encounter union boss resistance when trying to exercise those rights.”
Right to Work Foundation-Backed Employees Force Postal Union Bosses to Disgorge $1 Million Diverted from Backpay Award
American Postal Workers union officials forced to disgorge funds after being caught red-handed skimming back pay settlement intended for rank-and-file workers they claim to ‘represent’
Washington, DC (November 22, 2016) – In a significant victory for workers, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) has chosen to avoid going to trial and instead turn over more than a million dollars that union bosses diverted from the very postal workers they claimed to “represent.”
In December 2014, over seven thousand USPS workers were awarded a lump sum of back pay in an arbitration award. As part of an under the table agreement with the Postal Service, the APWU removed more than 1 million dollars from the award for its own use. In an effort to retrieve the missing money, two of the employees, Louis Mazurek and Scott Fontaine, filed unfair labor practice charges. Worried that the NLRB wasn’t taking their claims seriously, the workers turned to National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys for free legal assistance. The trial was scheduled for Wednesday November 9.
The day before the trial however, the workers were informed that the NLRB had agreed to a settlement with the union. Under the settlement, the APWU is forced to disgorge the money that they had withheld from the arbitration award. The settlement orders $770,804.58, or about 70 percent of the stolen money, to be divided among postal employees, just as the arbiter had originally ordered.
The remaining $330,326.70 is to be placed in a separate escrow account, with spending oversight provided by the NLRB Regional director for the next three years. After the three years any remaining funds will automatically go to the workers.
“It is appalling that the officials of the APWU could so casually take such a large sum from the workers whom they claim to represent.” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “When union officials were caught pocketing over a million dollars from the very workers they claim to represent, merely returning the money taken is a light punishment indeed. The lead union official stated, in a case document available to the public, that they ‘could have taken the whole award,’ but were afraid how embezzling the whole sum would look. ”
“The only thing more troubling is that had Foundation staff attorneys not been there to represent the interests of the rank-and-file workers, the NLRB may have allowed union bosses to keep all or part of the monies that the union bosses embezzled, with no hope of recovery.” continued Mix.
Today the National Right to Work Foundation along with the Liberty Justice Center, filed a brief on behalf of Illinois Government employees in the case Janus v. AFSCME. The case challenges the constitutionality of government union officials forced-dues privileges. The workers, all employed by the State of Illinois are currently required to pay union dues or fees to a union as a condition of their employment.
The case has the potential to go to the Supreme Court and answer the questions that the deadlocked Friedrichs case did not.
A District Judge recently dismissed the case back and the two employees, who are receiving free legal assistance from staff attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation and the Illinois Policy Institute’s Liberty Justice Center, filed an appeal of that dismissal in October.
National Right to Work Foundation Mark Mix was recently interviewed on The Illinois News Network about the case. Here are some of his comments.
“We think with the right justice, we could actually get a national right-to-work law for all government employees, thanks to the outcome of this past election.”
Mix said it could take a couple of months for a high court nominee to get approved by the U.S. Senate, but the Janus v. AFSCME case could get in front of the high court shortly thereafter.
The question is simple, Mix said: Is work that government employee unions do political in nature?
“They’re trying to advocate for certain government actions, and they’re trying to convince governments to do certain things with their resources, i.e. taxpayers’ resources, and so in that sense, it’s political speech,” Mix said.
“And if it’s political speech, it’s going to be protected by the First Amendment,” Mix said. “And if it’s protected by the First Amendment, then a worker can’t be compelled to pay anything to have someone, quote/unquote speak on their behalf.”
Mix said Illinois’ now $130 billion unfunded pension liability is the poster child of union power run amok, leaving taxpayers and government employees paying a huge price.
“And probably the biggest price will be paid by government employees who have done their job and probably are going to feel like they’ve been cheated when these pension problems really, really raise their heads, which I think they will sooner rather than later, unfortunately,” Mix said.
Workers File Brief to Stop NLRB from Imposing Unwanted Union that is Opposed by Two-Thirds of Employees
Right to Work Foundation brief argues NLRB is harming workers by imposing union over their objections
Hope, Arkansas (November 11, 2016) – National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, in St. Louis, opposing an NLRB ruling that forces workers at an Arkansas bakery into unwanted union representation. The brief was filed by the Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation on behalf of John Hankins.
Hankins is an employee of Southern Bakeries in Hope, Arkansas, and has been the leader of several efforts to remove Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers International Local 111 from his workplace. After the NLRB Regional Director refused to process multiple petitions from the workers at this facility to remove Local 111 as their exclusive bargaining representative, Hankins collected signatures from two-thirds of the employees asking that Southern Bakeries withdraw recognition of Local 111 as it “does not enjoy the support of a majority of employees in the bargaining unit.” Southern Bakeries complied with his request in July 2013.
Local 111 officials responded by filing unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB challenging Southern Bakeries’ withdrawal of recognition. The NLRB obtained an injunction to force the workers back into the union, but the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed. Now, at a later stage of the process, the NLRB is again asking that same court to reinstate the rejected union.
The Foundation’s brief argues that the NLRB order reinstating Local 111 as the monopoly bargaining agent grievously harms the workers of Southern Bakeries. Two-thirds of the employees signed the petition rejecting Local 111 officials’ representation, but the NRLB has completely ignored the employees’ wishes. The NLRB also tramples on the workers’ rights laid out in the First Amendment, the right to associate with whomever the workers choose, by forcing them into a monopoly bargaining situation without hope of relief. The brief asks the court of appeals to vacate the NLRB order and restore the workers’ freedom of association.
“It is outrageous that the Obama NLRB is using a federal court to stop employees from getting rid of a union that is overwhelmingly opposed, when the workers are simply trying to exercise their basic right to the freedom of association,” Foundation President Mark Mix said. “This is just the latest example of workers rights being trampled on by union officials and non-elected government bureaucrats, despite the protections offered by Arkansas’ Right to Work law.
Special Legal Notice Informs Workers That They Have The Right To Remain On The Job In Spite of Union Boss Ordered Strike
Springfield, VA (November 3, 2016) –The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation issued a special legal notice to the nearly 5,000 bus, subway, and trolley operators of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) workers who, according to reports, have been ordered by Transportation Workers Union (TWU) union bosses to strike beginning November 1.
Mark Mix, President of the NRTW Foundation, issued the following statement:
“All too often union bosses initiate strikes to further their own power even if striking is not in the best interest of rank-and-file workers, or of the public at large. Affected workers need to know that federal labor law is clear: any worker has the right to remain on the job during a strike if the business remains open. Further, all workers have the right to resign from union membership and avoid internal union discipline for breaking ranks with their union bosses.
To protect their rights and prevent union officials from retaliating against them in the form of internal union discipline, workers must follow certain procedures. To help workers understand their workplace rights in a strike situation, the Foundation has posted a special notice for SEPTA employees who have been ordered to strike.
Although workers have the right to continue working or return to work despite the union official-ordered strike, it is important that any worker who wishes to work during a strike resign his or her union membership before returning to work to avoid internal union discipline, including fines that have been as high as $50,000.
It is very important that affected workers understand their rights, and that they may turn to the Foundation for free legal aid if they encounter union boss resistance when trying to exercise those rights.”
Also, workers who see or encounter violence on the picket lines should contact and report such incidents to the Foundation. Workers may contact the Foundation through its website www.NRTW.org or by calling the Foundation’s toll-free hotline: 1-800-336-3600. The Foundation’s special legal notice for SEPTA workers may be found here.