12 Feb 2018

Final Brief Filed in Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court Case Seeking to End Public Sector Forced Union Fees

Posted in News Releases

Illinois Childcare Support Specialist’s case set for February 26 argument

Washington, DC (February 12, 2018)– Today, attorneys for Illinois public servant Mark Janus filed the final brief in the Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME. The final brief asks the High Court to recognize that the First Amendment protects public workers from being required to make payments to union officials as a condition of working for their own government.

Plaintiff Mark Janus is an Illinois child support specialist who filed the challenge with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Liberty Justice Center. Janus is currently required to pay union fees to AFSCME union officials even though he opposes many of the positions union officials advocate using his money and feels he would be better off without the union’s so-called representation.

Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement about the case:

“Mandatory union fees are the largest regime of compelled speech in the nation, and it is long past time that public employees’ First Amendment rights be protected from being forced to subsidize union officials’ speech. We are hopeful that by the end of the Supreme Court’s term it will issue a decision ensuring that union payments for public employees like Mr. Janus are strictly voluntary, at which point the challenge will be enforcing those protections for millions of government workers.”

Jacob Huebert, Director of Litigation for the Liberty Justice Center, added the following about the filing:

“AFSCME and the State of Illinois have not shown and cannot show that unions’ desire to keep taking money out of government workers’ paychecks is more important than the workers’ fundamental First Amendment right to choose which advocacy groups they will and won’t support. We’re optimistic that the Supreme Court will recognize that and restore workers’ rights.”

Background Information:

In the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education case, a divided High Court ruled that public employees could not be required to subsidize many political and ideological union activities; however the court left in place forced fees used to subsidize union monopoly bargaining with the government. In a series of cases in the last five years, the Supreme Court has questioned the theory underpinning Abood.

In the National Right to Work Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU (2012) and Harris v. Quinn (2014) cases, the Supreme Court made clear that mandatory union payments invoke the highest level of First Amendment protection. In Janus, Mark Janus’ attorneys ask the Supreme Court to apply this heightened scrutiny to all mandatory union payments required of government employees. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled to occur on Monday February 26 at 10:00 AM ET.

If the High Court rules in Janus’ favor, more than 5 million public school teachers, firefighters, police officers and other government employees who currently are forced to pay money to union officials just to keep their jobs would be free to decide individually whether or not to make voluntary union payments.

5 Feb 2018

Federal Court Hears Uber & Lyft Drivers’ Lawsuit Challenging Seattle Forced Unionism Ordinance

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Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asked to rule that law seeking to impose Teamsters unionization and forced dues violates drivers’ rights

Seattle, WA (February 5, 2018) – Today, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys are arguing Clark v. Seattle at the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for individual drivers whose federal lawsuit challenges a controversial Seattle ordinance designed to unionize independent for-hire and ride-sharing drivers and force them to pay union dues. Dan Clark, lead plaintiff in the suit, is an independent driver who picks up riders through both Uber and Lyft.

The drivers originally filed suit against the City of Seattle in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington with free legal representation by staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Washington State-based Freedom Foundation. The drivers argue that the Seattle ordinance is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act and that imposing forced union representation and forced dues on them violates their First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of association.

A District Court judge ruled against the drivers last August, clearing the way for an appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Shortly after the District Court ruling, implementation of the ordinance was blocked by the Court of Appeals until that court could rule on the pending legal challenges to the first-in-the-nation ridesharing driver forced unionization scheme.

In addition to the drivers’ lawsuit, the Court of Appeals will also hear arguments in a separate legal challenge to the Seattle ordinance arguing that the forced unionization ordinance violates federal anti-trust law. A three-judge panel will hear arguments in both cases back-to-back in Seattle this morning.

“Big Labor’s one-size-fits-all, top-down forced unionism is the very antithesis of the ride-sharing model which attracts drivers by connecting them with consumers and providing them the freedom to decide when to work and through which mobile app to find customers,” National Right to Work Foundation president Mark Mix said.

“Not only is Seattle’s scheme to force independent ridesharing drivers under Teamsters monopoly representation through a coercive card check drive bad policy, but it violates federal labor law protections and the drivers’ constitutional rights,” continued Mix. “Hopefully the appeals court will rule to protect these independent drivers from this pernicious forced unionism scheme, but if it fails to we are prepared to take this case all the way to the Supreme Court to vindicate these drivers’ freedoms.”

1 Feb 2018

Federal Court Hears Employees’ Lawsuit Against Union For “Window Period” Policy to Trap Workers into Dues Payments

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Class-action lawsuit for Michigan workers says union boss limitations on ending forced dues violate workers’ rights

Cincinnati, OH (February 1, 2018) – Today, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys are arguing in the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case brought by two Michigan grocery store employees against United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 876. The workers’ class-action lawsuit challenges the UFCW’s arbitrary window period and other unreasonable requirements that restrict Michigan workers from exercising their right to stop dues payment.

Michigan’s Right to Work protections – enacted in 2012 – make union membership and financial support strictly voluntary. However, union officials have repeatedly blocked workers from exercising their rights under the law. Robbie Ohlendorf and Sara Adams, a part-time stocking clerk and cashier respectively at Oleson’s Foods Stores, found this out when they attempted to exercise their right to end payments to UFCW officials.

During the summer of 2016, Ohlendorf and Adams submitted letters to the UFCW resigning from the union and revoking their authorization for the union to collect dues payments from their paychecks. Despite their revocations, UFCW union officials denied both employees’ requests to end payments by claiming the letters were not submitted during a union-created “window period” and were not sent by certified mail.

Believing their rights were being violated by UFCW policies, Ohlendorf and Adams turned to National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys for help challenging the policies. With free Foundation-provided legal representation, the pair filed a federal class-action lawsuit in December 2016 against the UFCW. They brought the lawsuit on the grounds that union officials violated their statutory rights, and those of their co-workers, as well as the union’s duty of fair representation by limiting dues revocations to a “window period” and by demanding that such requests be made via certified mail.

Unfortunately, a Western Michigan District Court judge sided with union lawyers, ruling that the dues deduction authorizations containing the restrictions were binding. Ohlendorf and Adams then appealed the decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals where their arguments are being heard today by a three-judge panel.

“As this case demonstrates, Robbie Ohlendorf, Sara Adams, and countless other Michigan workers are being trapped into paying forced dues against their will because union bosses have created hurdles solely to block them from exercising their rights,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “A favorable ruling from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals would send the message that union bosses cannot limit employees’ rights through these arbitrary requirements. Leaving a union and cutting off union payments ought to be no more difficult than joining one.”

26 Jan 2018

West Virginia Resort Worker Files Unfair Labor Practice Charge After Union Officials Illegally Take His Money

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Greenbrier employee’s case demonstrates tactics used by union bosses to extort forced dues

White Sulphur Springs, WV- A Greenbrier Hotel employee has filed a federal unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Laborers’ International Union of North America, Local 1182. Reginald Gibbs filed the charge with free legal representation provided by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys. The charge states that union officials violated his rights by using mandatory union fees for lobbying efforts and failing to provide necessary disclosures of spending by union affiliates.

Gibbs, a slot machine technician at West Virginia’s historic Greenbrier Hotel & Resort, previously turned to National Right to Work Foundation attorneys for help in filing a motion to intervene in a court case defending West Virginia’s Right to Work law. That law ensures that union membership and financial support are completely voluntary. In that lawsuit, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the law should go into effect, with the Chief Justice calling a lower court’s decision to grant a preliminary injunction against the Right to Work law a “monumental failure of legal reasoning.”

Although the state Supreme Court’s ruling means that the Right to Work law is currently in effect, forced dues contracts entered into before the law’s enactment, such as that at the Greenbrier, are exempted from the law. Thus, Local 1182 officials can have Gibbs fired for not paying union fees. However, even absent full Right to Work protections, workers are entitled to certain protections under the National Labor Relations Act as interpreted in the 1988 Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court case Communications Workers v. Beck.

After receiving his Beck-mandated notice and audit that should explain in detail how forced union dues were being spent, Gibbs noticed several discrepancies that violate his rights. Specifically, as his NLRB charge notes, union officials improperly used dues for political lobbying efforts and failed to adequately disclose how the dues were spent by union affiliates. The NLRB will now investigate the charge.

“Despite U.S. Supreme Court precedent that has been the law for almost 30 years, union officials routinely violate the rights of the workers they claim to represent, to extract extra money from their paychecks,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Fortunately, due to West Virginia’s new Right to Work law, once the current union contract expires, union bosses will no longer be able to play games with the union audit process, because Mr. Gibbs can finally stop all union payments.”

“This case provides another vivid example of why West Virginia workers need the protections provided by the Mountain State’s Right to Work law,” added Mix.

25 Jan 2018

National Workplace Advocacy Group to Charter School Teachers: ‘Know Your Rights to Protect Yourself from Compulsory Unionism’

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National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation president issues statement in recognition of National School Choice Week

Washington, DC (January 25, 2018) –
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, issued the following statement in recognition of National School Choice Week 2018:

“Teacher union officials, armed with billions of dollars in mandatory union dues, have orchestrated a sustained campaign to delegitimize and block efforts to promote school choice and especially charter schools. But despite that opposition, charter schools have enjoyed steady growth and popularity.

“In response, union officials have decided that if they cannot reverse the growth of charter schools, then they would attempt to control charter schools by forcing teachers and other school employees under union monopoly power. Of course, this could prove disastrous for charter school teachers and students nationwide, many of whom are attracted to charter schools precisely because they reject the one-size-fits-all approach promoted by national teacher union bosses.

“All charter school employees are entitled to certain constitutional and statutory rights but unfortunately union officials frequently attempt to keep employees in the dark about those rights. That is why National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have provided direct, free legal aid to over 10,000 teachers since its founding and why the Foundation continues its Charter School Initiative.

“Led by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the National Right to Work Foundation’s Charter School Initiative aims to enlighten charter school employees about their rights so that they can make decisions about union representation in an atmosphere free of union boss threats, harassment, coercion, or misrepresentation. To that end, Foundation attorneys have developed free educational materials for charter school teachers and employees. Furthermore, Foundation staff attorneys are prepared to continue defending charter school employees from the injustices of forced unionism.

“Charter school teachers and other employees: You have rights. For more information about your rights and the Foundation’s Charter School Initiative, check out our website at www.nrtw.org/charterschools.”

24 Jan 2018

Special Legal Notice to Disney World Employees: How to Resign from Teamsters Local 385 & End Dues Payments

Posted in News Releases

Orlando, FL – In response to multiple inquiries from Disney World employees regarding their legal rights, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have issued a Special Legal Notice for all Disney World employees who wish to resign their membership in Teamsters Local 385 and exercise their right to end payment of union dues.

In recent years, numerous workers have filed federal unfair labor practice charges against Teamsters Union Local 385 with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys in response to union officials’ refusal to accept their membership resignations and/or dues checkoff revocations.

The National Right to Work Foundation Special Legal Notice for Disney employees can be found here.

To learn more about your legal rights in general, go to the Foundation’s “Know Your Rights” page. To request free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation call toll free at 1-800-336-3600, or use our legal aid request form.

23 Jan 2018

Worker Advocate Issues Statement on Judge’s Ruling Dismissing Union Lawsuit Against Kentucky’s Right to Work Law

Posted in News Releases

Frankfort, KY – Today, at the Franklin County Circuit Court, three Kentucky workers with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys successfully defended the Blue Grass state’s Right to Work law against spurious legal arguments from union officials attempting to retain their forced dues powers.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix issued the following statement in response to today’s ruling:

“We welcome today’s ruling by the Franklin County Circuit Court upholding Kentucky’s Right to Work law, which simply ensures that union membership and financial support are strictly voluntary. Right to Work laws have long been upheld by appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, so it comes as no surprise that union bosses’ arguments against Kentucky’s Right to Work law were rejected in this case. Rather than wasting tax dollars and workers’ dues money continuing this frivolous legal attack on Right to Work, Kentucky union bosses ought to be working to ensure that the representation they claim to provide is actually a service Kentucky employees will voluntarily pay for.”

The ruling can be found here.

19 Jan 2018

Teamsters Officials Hit With Labor Board Charge for Obstructing Workers’ Right to Remove Unwanted Union

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Unfair labor practice charge highlights systemic abuse of NLRB policy by union bosses seeking to block workers from holding decertification votes

Des Moines, IA (January 19, 2018) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, a Bemis North America employee has filed a federal unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Teamsters Local 727S for interfering with his right to hold a vote to remove a union that is not supported by a majority of workers. In late 2017, Union officials filed several frivolous “blocking charges” with the clear intent of preventing Bemis employees from holding a decertification election, as is their right under the federal law.

Wayne Devore works at Bemis North America in Des Moines, Iowa. In late October 2017, he filed a petition for a decertification election with the NLRB, after collecting the necessary signatures from his coworkers opposed to the Teamsters so-called “representation.” Under NLRB rules employees can trigger a vote to strip union officials of their monopoly bargaining powers over workers when at least 30 percent of employees in the bargaining unit sign a decertification petition.

NLRB Region 18 officials verified the signatures and scheduled a hearing on November 9 on the decertification petition to set dates and time for the decertification election. Yet, just days before the hearing was to take place, Devore was informed by the NLRB that it was postponed because Teamsters officials had filed an unfair labor practice charge.

The charge union officials filed appeared to have been filed solely to delay or block the decertification. Later, Teamsters officials withdrew that original charge, only to contrive five more frivolous unfair labor practice charges. This occurred despite the fact that in the previous year Teamsters Local 727S officials had raised no charges against Bemis management.

Despite Teamsters officials’ abuse of the process, the decertification election has been postponed by the NLRB while the Teamsters’ unfair labor practice charges are pending. Initially, Board agents said the first charge would take two to four weeks to investigate. However nearly three months later, there still has been no indication that the decertification vote will actually be held.

Understanding that his legal rights were being violated, Devore turned to the National Right to Work Foundation for assistance. His unfair labor practice charge filed by his Foundation-provided staff attorney alleges that when Teamsters officials filed their charges, they were aimed solely at blocking or delaying the decertification vote and thus infringed on the workers’ protected legal rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

“As is the case here, far too often union bosses are more interested in holding on to their power rather than respecting the rights and wishes of the rank-and-file workers they claim to represent,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Mr. Devore and his coworkers have a legal right under federal labor law to hold a decertification vote to remove the Teamsters from their workplace, and Teamsters officials violated that right when they abused the NLRB’s blocking charge doctrine.

“This case highlights a systemic problem in the NLRB’s policy that permits union officials to file unsubstantiated charges against employers designed primarily to block employees from removing unwanted unions,” continued Mix. “Nothing is more contrary to the stated purpose of the National Labor Relation Act than trapping employees in union ‘representation’ opposed by a majority of workers, which is why the current NLRB blocking charge policy must be scrapped.”

12 Jan 2018

Mechanic Hits Union With Federal Charge for Canceling His Health Insurance in Retaliation Scheme

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Dealership employee discovered insurance had been canceled by union after he exercised right to resign his union membership and filed an NLRB charge challenging union practices

Chicago, IL (January 12, 2018) – A Chicago-area auto mechanic has filed an unfair labor practice charge against International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 701 with free legal assistance from attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. The charge, filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), describes how union bosses wrongfully terminated the worker’s health insurance in retaliation for him exercising his right to resign union membership.

Mike Vallaro is employed at Gerald Subaru, Inc. in Naperville, IL. He exercised his right to resign from the union after IAM Local 701 union officials demanded that he and his co-workers abandon their jobs and join a union-initiated strike in August 2016. By resigning prior to the union-ordered work stoppage, Vallaro could continue working and not legally be subjected to IAM internal “union discipline.”

Despite this, union officials sent him a letter threatening a disciplinary trial for working during the strike. They claimed that, if he was found guilty by the union tribunal, Vallaro would be forced to pay a monetary fine. In similar situations around the country, union officials have levied fines in the tens of thousands of dollars against workers who defied strike demands.

Understanding his rights, Vallaro turned to Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys for free legal aid and filed the unfair labor practice charge. After National Right to Work Foundation’s involvement, IAM Local 701 notified Vallaro that its trial had been canceled. However, NLRB proceedings in the case continued.

The mechanic thought that was the last of IAM Local 701’s illegal intimidation, until he went into the doctor’s office for a medical procedure, only to find that his medical insurance had been canceled. Under the monopoly bargaining contract between the IAM and his employer, all employees are entitled to health insurance. The union controls and selects the insurance plan that covers the employees irrespective of whether they are a union member or not. Additionally, because Illinois is not a Right to Work state, Vallaro is still forced to pay fees to IAM Local 701 officials each month.

Vallaro never received prior notification that his health insurance had lapsed. After conferring with his co-workers he discovered that he was the only worker in the monopoly bargaining unit to have his insurance canceled, making it clear it was in retaliation for his previous resignation and unfair labor practice charge.

In response Vallaro again turned to Foundation staff attorneys, who assisted him in filing another unfair labor practice charge against IAM officials, this time for illegal retaliation and discrimination by violating their monopoly bargaining contract to cancel Vallaro’s insurance. Both charges are now being investigated by the NLRB Region 13 office in Chicago.

Meanwhile, Vallaro faces mounting medical bills as a result of his insurance being canceled. Fortunately, for now, his employer Gerald Subaru is assisting Vallaro with the bills that would have been covered had IAM union officials not wrongfully canceled the coverage.

“Mr. Vallaro simply wanted to continue working to support himself and his family instead of engaging in a union boss-ordered strike. Now, because he exercised his protected rights under federal law, he is facing a relentless campaign of illegal union intimidation,” said Mark Mix president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Union bosses’ willingness to cancel the health insurance of a worker they still claim to ‘represent’ just when he needs to rely on that insurance, is another ugly example of union officials abusing their monopoly forced dues powers to attack workers who refuse to toe the union line.”

10 Jan 2018

Foundation Warns Workers of Union Boss Tricks Ahead of Janus Ruling

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2017 edition. To sign up for a free copy of the newsletter via mail please see the form at the bottom of the page.

Special legal notice to public employees warns against signing away rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With forced dues requirements for over five million public sector employees at stake in the Foundation’s Janus v. AFSCME case now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, union bosses coast-to-coast are already scrambling to limit workers ability to cut off dues payments if the court rules that mandatory union payments violate the First Amendment.

Following the Supreme Court’s announcement in late September that it was taking the Janus case, there were reports that Big Labor was ramping up tactics to block the workers from escaping forced dues. In response, Foundation staff attorneys crafted a special legal notice to public employees, warning them against signing any union authorization cards that might later be cited to limit their right to stop paying dues.

“Unfortunately, there is a long history of union officials refusing to accept limits on their forced- dues powers, and with 5.2 million government workers forced to pay billions each year to union bosses, it is no surprise that union bosses are pulling out all the stops to attempt to block them from using the protections that a Foundation win in the Janus case would bring,” said Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation.

“Although the scale may be unprecedented given the stakes of this Supreme Court case, unfortunately these tactics are nothing new,” Semmens continued. “Invariably, after Foundation-won legal precedents or enactment of new state Right to Work laws, union officials move to block the very workers they claim to represent from exercising their rights.”

Reports: Unions Pressing Workers To Sign Away Their Rights

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s special legal notice warns employees of the tactics teacher union bosses have already begun using:

For instance, according to The Wall Street Journal, Education Minnesota, an affiliate of the National Education Association, is having teachers sign pre-filled “membership renewal” cards which also authorize their employer to deduct union dues or fees from their paychecks.

This language may seem innocuous, but it is craftily designed to lock employees into paying dues even if they wish to cease paying. The Wall Street Journal also notes: “If public sector unions are putting this ‘renewal’ strategy in place in Minnesota, it’s likely that they’re making similar plans elsewhere.”

Although Foundation staff attorneys question the legality of such cards, the special legal notice reminds workers that signing such a card could limit their legal options later. This is compounded by the fact that in many documented instances, union organizers solicit signatures under misleading or false pretenses.

Public sector employees are taking notice of such schemes and are already calling the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to report this behavior by union officials and seek advice in protecting their rights. As always, Foundation staff attorneys are prepared to take legal action for workers who are illegally required to pay forced dues.

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