While Missouri still lacks Right to Work protections for employees, IBEW union officials hiked forced fees without providing financial disclosure required by law
St. Louis, MO (March 21, 2018) – With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a Missouri power plant worker has filed federal unfair labor practice charges against the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 53 union for failing to provide an adequate breakdown of how the union spends workers’ forced union dues.
In November 2017, IBEW Local 53 union officials informed James Feagins that, beginning in 2018, he would be required to pay union fees of approximately 95 percent of formal membership dues, a substantial increase over the average of approximately 50 percent of union dues he was previously required to pay.
Because a union-backed ballot petition has blocked Missouri’s Right to Work law from going into effect, workers like Feagins currently can be fired for refusing to hand over part of their paycheck to a union they choose not to join. In the 27 states with Right to Work laws in effect, union membership and financial support is strictly voluntary.
Feagins had previously attempted to exercise his rights under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court precedent Communications Workers of America v. Beck to opt out of union membership. Under Beck, workers in states without Right to Work protections cannot be compelled to pay the part of union dues used for a union’s political and member-only activities.
Beck also requires union bosses to provide workers with an independently-verified audit breaking down chargeable and non-chargeable expenses, but IBEW Local 53 union officials only provided Feagins with an unaudited statement. Moreover, IBEW Local 53’s statement of expenses included so-called “per capita taxes” sent to affiliate unions without disclosure regarding how the affiliates spend that money.
The charges allege that Local 53 union officials further violated Feagins’ Beck rights by illegally charging him for certain advertising, overhead, and organizing expenses. Further, Feagins asked union officials to provide him with a copy of the monopoly bargaining agreement, but they refused to do so in violation of federal labor law.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Regional Director in St. Louis will now investigate the charges.
“Union bosses add insult to injury by threatening workers to pay fees or else be fired, and then keeping them in the dark about where the money is going,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This case underscores the need for Right to Work protections in Missouri to make union membership and dues payments completely voluntary.”
Worker Advocate Seeks Unpublished NLRB Report and Additional Disclosures Over Labor Board’s Apparent Recusal Double Standard
FOIA request seeks to bring to light information regarding efforts to prevent a full five-member Labor Board from reviewing pro-forced unionism Obama-era precedents
Washington, DC (March 19, 2018) – The National Right to Work Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal assistance to employees nationwide, today submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), asking for information regarding the NLRB’s standards for recusal and the Board’s determination to reconsider and vacate a recent decision.
“National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys are currently providing free legal aid to workers in more than eighty NLRB cases,” stated Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse, who submitted the FOIA request. “These victims of compulsory unionism abuses deserve fair and impartial hearings from properly constituted NLRB panels.”
Barack Obama’s NLRB, which was dogged by accusations of its partiality throughout Obama’s two terms in office, overturned thirty years of precedent in Browning-Ferris Industries in 2015. This past December, in Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors, the NLRB overruled Browning-Ferris and restored “the principles governing joint-employer status that existed prior to that decision.”
Since the decision in Hy-Brand, one Board Member’s term expired. Then, the NLRB’s Inspector General concluded that another should have been recused in Hy-Brand because his former law firm represented an employer that was a party in Browning-Ferris. Citing the Inspector General’s report, the other three Members of the Board in late February vacated the Hy-Brand decision.
The FOIA request seeks information, documents, and communications regarding the Inspector General’s recusal determination in this case, any other recusal determinations since January 1, 2009, and the three-member panel’s reconsideration of Hy-Brand. In addition to communications between or among Board Members and the Inspector General, the Foundation seeks their communications regarding these matters with members and staff of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the press, or union officials.
“The NLRB’s Inspector General appears to be setting a troubling double standard regarding recusals, especially considering the same office looked the other way when former Service Employees International Union lawyer and Obama appointee Craig Becker refused to recuse himself from cases involving the SEIU and its affiliates,” explained National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix.
“The public deserves to know the truth surrounding this double standard, especially given that it advances the concerted effort by Big Labor and its allies to block a full NLRB from reviewing controversial Obama-era rulings that limit the rights of workers who don’t want to associate with a labor union,” continued Mix.
Air Traffic Controller Forces Settlement from FAA Concerning Religious Discrimination Committed at Behest of Union Bosses
Union retaliated against worker for resigning from membership, had worker transferred to force him to work on Saturday in violation of his religious beliefs
Warrenton, VA (March 8, 2018) – A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employee has won a federal settlement after the agency complied with union officials’ demands to punish him for resigning his union membership by transferring him to a position that caused a scheduling conflict with his religious obligations.
In 2013, Matthew Gray, a Seventh-day Adventist who works at the FAA’s Potomac facility, filed federal charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) union and FAA.
With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Gray filed the charges after he was informed by a union official that he was being removed from his detail and transferred to another in which he would be required to work on Saturdays as punishment for resigning from the union. Federal law ensures that independent-minded employees of the federal government, like Gray, cannot be required to pay any dues or “fees” to a union as a condition of employment.
Gray resigned union membership because he believes union membership is contrary to his faith. A central doctrine of Gray’s church is weekly worship, and not working, on Saturday. Gray’s original position allowed him to avoid any scheduling conflict between his work and religious obligations. By removing him from that detail, however, NATCA union officials effectively forced Gray to work on Saturday, unless he found a replacement or took leave every week, or lose his job.
Instead of standing up to the union’s ugly retaliation against a worker who chose to exercise his legal rights, Gray’s manager at the FAA told him that he was complying with the union’s transfer request because Gray “no longer represent[s] the best interests of NATCA.”
Before this settlement was reached, the EEOC had found cause to believe that the union violated Gray’s rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and Gray had won settlements resolving unfair labor practice charges he filed with the Federal Labor Relations Authority against the union and FAA.
“Make no mistake, union bosses punished Matthew Gray for simply acting on his deeply-held religious beliefs,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Hardworking Americans should not face religious discrimination or any other retaliation for exercising their right to refrain from union membership.”
5 Times Obama NLRB Member Split with Fellow Democrats to Favor Union Officials over Independent-minded Workers
At the Federalist Society blog, National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond J. LaJeunesse has a new commentary discussing the extreme anti-worker freedom record of Barack Obama appointee Mark Gaston Pearce, who still sits on the National Labor Relations Board:
The current term of Mark Gaston Pearce as a Member of the National Labor Relations Board expires on August 27, 2018. Traditionally, the Board has consisted of three Members from the President’s party and two from the other major party. It has been publicly reported that Member Pearce, a Democrat who represented labor organizations before coming to the Board, is lobbying for reappointment. However, Member Pearce has a record that shows that he is a particularly virulent opponent of the rights of private-sector workers who choose not to support unions and object to being forced to subsidize them, more so than other Democrat appointees to the Board. Specific cases that demonstrate this follow.
On Monday, February 26, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney William Messenger argued at the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME, arguing that forcing government workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment violates the First Amendment.
After oral argument, Messenger appeared live from the Court steps on Fox Business Channel:
SCOTUSblog provided a summary of the oral argument:
The Supreme Court heard oral argument today in Janus v. American Federation of State, Municipal, and County Employees, a challenge by an Illinois child-support specialist to the fees that he is required to pay to the union that represents him, even though he does not belong to any union. Although this is the first trip to the Supreme Court for Mark Janus, the employee, it was the third time in four years that the justices have taken the bench to consider the issue presented by Janus’ case. After roughly an hour of sometimes testy debate in the courtroom, the outcome almost certainly hinges on the vote of the court’s newest justice, Neil Gorsuch – who did not tip his hand, opting instead to remain silent.
Mandatory fees require dissenting nonmembers to support beliefs they reject. But the right of free speech, as the court long has recognized, includes the freedom not to speak. To force someone to pay for the advancement of political positions without his or her consent is incompatible with the First Amendment.
For background on Janus, click here.
Today: Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments in Landmark Workers’ Rights Case, Janus v. AFSCME; Janus Supporters to Rally Outside the Supreme Court
It’s time for the U.S. Supreme Court to restore government workers’ First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association. No government worker should be forced to pay for union politics as a condition of employment.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 26, 2018) – Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the landmark workers’ rights case, Janus v. AFSCME. Across the United States, more than 5 million government workers are required to give part of their paycheck to a government union as a condition of working in public service. This case seeks to outlaw that practice, and restore workers’ First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association.
The plaintiff in this case is Mark Janus, a child support specialist for state government in Illinois. Janus is required to pay approximately $45 each month to AFSCME Council 31, even though he is not a union member, never voted on union representation and is opposed to the policies for which the union advocates.
Janus filed his case in 2015 with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Illinois-based Liberty Justice Center.
During oral arguments, supporters of Mark Janus and the fight to restore workers’ rights will rally outside the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, offered the following statement: “Poll after poll demonstrates that the American people overwhelmingly believe that union membership and financial support should be voluntary and not forced. Now those compulsory union payments are squarely before the Supreme Court, with the First Amendment rights of over five million teachers, firefighters, police officers and other government workers like Mark Janus at stake. Forty years ago in the Abood case the High Court erred by allowing public employees to be forced to pay money to union officials as a condition to working for their own government, and we are hopeful that by the end of the Court’s term that injustice will finally be remedied.”
Mark Janus offered the following statement: “Government workers like me should not have to bear the burden of supporting political and policy causes we disagree with in order to serve our communities and state. The right to say ‘no’ to a union is just as important as the right to say ‘yes,’ but for over 40 years, government workers have been denied that right. I am hopeful that after today’s arguments, the United States Supreme Court will restore the rights of me and every other government employee in America.”
Jacob Huebert, Janus’ attorney from the Liberty Justice Center, made the following statement: “This is the biggest case for workers’ rights in a generation. No one should be forced to check their First Amendment rights at the door just because they want to work in a government job. Workers deserve a choice and a voice.”
Commentary: Does the NLRB’s Inspector General Have a Double Standard for When Board Members Must Recuse?
In a new commentary for The Federalist Society, National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond J. LaJeunesse discusses an inconsistent standard for recusals at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB):
Traditionally under the National Labor Relations Act, a company was considered to be a joint employer of another company’s employees only if the putative joint employer had direct and immediate control over the other company’s employees’ material terms and conditions of employment. However, in 2015, a National Labor Relations Board majority appointed by President Obama overturned thirty years of precedent in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, Inc., 362 NLRB No. 186 (3-2 decision), holding that a company is a joint employer even if it only exercises indirect control of essential terms and conditions of employment or only reserves the right to do so.
The issue was addressed again by the Board in late 2017 in Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors, Ltd., 365 NLRB No. 156 (3-2 decision). In Hy-Brand, a Board majority appointed by President Trump overruled Browning-Ferris and returned “to the principles governing joint-employer status that existed prior to that decision.”
One of the Board Members in the Hy-Brand majority was William Emanuel. Neither Emanuel nor his former law firm was involved in Hy-Brand at any point, nor has anyone claimed that either represented a Hy-Brand party at any time in any other matter. However, the NLRB’s Inspector General was asked by someone to investigate whether Emanuel should have been recused in Hy-Brand because his former law firm, but not Emanuel, represented one of the employers in Browning-Ferris before the Board.
Worker Files Unfair Labor Practice Charge Against Union “Policy” Trapping Workers Into Dues Payments
Worker Advocate: Union officials should stop violating the rights of employees by arbitrarily blocking requests to stop dues payments
Oshkosh, WI (February 21, 2018) – On Wednesday, February 14, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2-482 for violating a manufacturing plant employee’s rights by imposing an arbitrary “window period” to block him from ending his forced dues payments.
Since 2015, Wisconsin’s Right to Work protections make union membership and financial support strictly voluntary. However, union officials have blocked workers repeatedly from exercising their rights under the law. Donald Dillabough, a manufacturing plant employee at Clear Water Paper, Inc., found this out recently when he attempted to exercise his right to end payments to USW union officials.
In December 2017, Dillabough emailed the USW resigning from the union and revoking his authorization for the union to collect dues payments from his paychecks. Despite his revocation, USW union officials denied his request to end payments by claiming the letters were not submitted during a union-created “window period.” To this day, Dillabough remains forced to pay money to union officials because they refuse to honor his revocation request.
Dillabough turned to the National Right to Work Foundation for help with challenging the policy. Dillabough’s Foundation-provided staff attorney filed an unfair labor practice charge with NLRB Region 18 challenging the “window period” as a violation of his rights. The Region will now investigate the charge.
Unfortunately for workers, union officials frequently attempt to enforce arbitrary time restraints on when employees can or cannot exercise their right to end automatic forced dues deductions from their paychecks. Various courts have struck down these policies, but union officials continue to try and prevent rank and file workers from exercising their rights, especially in states with Right to Work protections for employees.
“Even in states like Wisconsin where union dues payments are by law supposed to be completely voluntary, union bosses frequently play fast and loose with employees’ rights to attempt to trap workers into paying forced dues against their will,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Wisconsin’s Right to Work law simply protects an employee’s right to choose for him or herself whether to join and financially support a union. Numerous court decisions have made clear that that freedom of choice cannot be limited to one week a year and the NLRB should prosecute USW bosses for this flagrant violation of the rights of a worker they claim to ‘represent.’”
Final Brief Filed in Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court Case Seeking to End Public Sector Forced Union Fees
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.”
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.
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.”