26 Jul 2017

Kentucky Workers Win Motion to Intervene to Defend Bluegrass State Right to Work Law

Posted in News Releases

National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys help Kentucky workers defend law to ensure union membership and dues payment remain voluntary

Frankfort, KY (July 26, 2017) – With free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, a group of Kentucky workers have won a motion to intervene in the recently filed Big Labor-backed lawsuit attacking Kentucky’s new Right to Work law.

“This ruling ensures that Kentucky workers, whose rights are protected by Kentucky’s new Right to Work law, can participate in the defense of the law,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Kentucky union bosses are offering spurious legal arguments in an attempt to restore their power to have workers fired for refusing to pay part of their hard-earned paycheck to a union they don’t support, and this ruling ensures that the Court will hear from pro-Right to Work Kentucky employees.”

For more information please refer to our June 29, 2017 press release on the motion to intervene.

21 Jul 2017

Michigan Welder Forces UAW Bosses to Settle Case for Illegal Discrimination and Retaliation

Posted in News Releases

Union officials prompted employer to illegally decrease pay of worker who exercised right to resign from union under Michigan’s Right to Work law

Ludington, MI (July 21, 2017) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Richard Dettman, a Ludington, MI welder, has won a settlement against United Autoworkers, Local 811 (UAW, Local 811) union officials and his employer Harsco Rail. The settlement dictates that Union officials and Harsco amend their collective bargaining agreement, as well as pay additional wages to Mr. Dettman for hours, worked between March 13 and April 23, 2017.

Since 1992, Dettman has worked as a Harsco welder and was a UAW member, but in February 2017 he exercised his right to resign his union membership. He had achieved “Journeyman” status because of his long tenure, which guaranteed him a $0.75 per hour premium based on the workplace contract. An employee’s “Journeyman” card is granted after years of apprenticeship or completion of work related qualifications.

Shortly after his resignation, union officials retaliated against Dettman by stripping him of his “Journeyman” card, and Harsco Rail lowered his wages under the union boss-negotiated monopoly bargaining contract. This violated not only the National Labor Relations Act but is contrary to Michigan’s Right to Work protections.

In response to the illegal retaliation, Dettman filed federal unfair labor practice charges against both the UAW and Harsco with the National Labor Relations Board, utilizing free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys. Faced with clear evidence that they had violated Dettman’s legal rights, UAW and Harsco officials settled the case.
Harsco and UAW officials agreed to pay Dettman back wages for hours worked during March-April 2017. But the case was also a victory for all Harsco employees. Harsco and Union officials amended their monopoly bargaining agreement to respect Michigan’s Right to Work law. The agreement now allows any employee, union affiliated or not, to apply for and receive the Journeyman premium if they meet certain requirements.

“Rather than operating as an organization workers would want to join voluntarily, UAW officials resorted to illegal tactics against a worker who bravely exercised his rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “As this case shows, passing Right to Work laws is only the first step in protecting the workplace rights of all workers. Without stringent enforcement of the law, greedy union bosses will do everything they can, including lowering workers’ wages, to stop workers from exercising their rights and resigning their union membership.”

18 Jul 2017

National Right to Work Foundation Issues Special Legal Notice to Nissan Employees in Mississippi Facing UAW Unionization Vote

Posted in News Releases

Foundation offers free legal aid to Nissan Canton employees facing UAW coercion and pressure tactics in run up to vote

Canton, MS (July 18, 2017) – Recently, United Autoworkers (UAW) union officials announced a push to impose monopoly control over all front-line employees at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi. In light of the tactics union organizers frequently utilize while pushing for monopoly bargaining powers over workers, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have issued a special legal notice for Nissan Canton workers.

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:

“UAW officials in Detroit have spent millions of dollars attempting to unionize this plant and others in Right to Work states where auto manufacturing is thriving. In Canton, UAW organizers failed in 2013, but now UAW union officials are once again targeting Canton as they look for new sources of revenue following the loss over two-thirds of their members in recent decades.

“Workers facing UAW organizing drives in the past have endured intimidation, misleading statements, and pressure tactics. Because of this, the National Right to Work Foundation wants every Canton Nissan employee to know they have a place to turn for free legal if they face such tactics or have a question about their right to oppose UAW monopoly representation in the run up to the vote.”

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

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.

13 Jul 2017

Missouri Workers Ask MO Supreme Court to Review Misleading Anti-Right to Work Ballot Language

Posted in News Releases

Workers opposed to forced union dues appeal ruling allowing deceptive ballot language for union boss-backed constitutional amendments

St. Louis, MO (July 13, 2017) – Yesterday, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys filed an appeal for a group of Missouri workers asking the state Supreme Court to review a lower court decision permitting misleading ballot language on a series of union boss-backed constitutional amendments designed to overturn the state’s recently enacted Right to Work law.

On June 27, 2017, the Missouri Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling on potential 2018 ballot amendments, determining that most of the amendments addressing the Right to Work law enacted in February adequately described the ballot propositions, even though none mentioned the recently-passed Right to Work law.

In December, Mike Louis, the Missouri AFL-CIO’s top official, submitted to the Missouri Secretary of State ten proposed amendments to the state constitution. Each seeks to overturn Missouri’s Right to Work law enacted in February. These amendments contain language that is confusing and misleading.
The language was approved by outgoing Secretary of State Jason Kander, who ran a failed U.S. Senate campaign that was funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars in union contributions. He approved the ballot language just hours before vacating office, ignoring the fact that none of the petitions even mentioned the Right to Work law that they are designed to nullify. One or more of the amendments could appear on the 2018 ballot if union organizers obtain a sufficient number of signatures.

Foundation staff attorneys argued that Kander’s summary statements contained misleading and insufficient language. In March, Judge Jon Beetem of the Cole County Circuit Court agreed, ruling that the proposed language was “unclear and insufficient” to accurately reflect that the amendments — if passed — would nullify the Right to Work law. Judge Beetem re-wrote the summary statements to provide a balanced and accurate description of the effect of the proposed amendments.

However, Judge Beetem’s decision was overturned by the Missouri Court of Appeals. The appellate court ruled that Kander’s summary statements for eight of the ten amendments contained sufficient language, while two needed minor revisions. The court also noted that it was an unusual case as it was the first occurrence of the legislature enacting a law that was simultaneously being addressed by the Secretary of State.

If any of the Big Labor-backed constitutional amendments are put on the ballot and approved by the voters, they would repeal the new Right to Work law and block future passage of any state legislation to protect workers from mandatory union fees. Any future attempt to pass Right to Work would first require another amendment of the state constitution.

“Big Labor continues to resort to any tactic in an attempt to block Missouri’s new Right to Work law,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Big Labor knows that the citizens of Missouri believe it is wrong for an employee to be fired simply for refusing to pay union dues or fees to a union boss. That’s why the union bosses are so intent on confusing voters about their goal of restoring their forced dues powers.”

National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys are also assisting Missouri employees in challenging misleading language in a repeal referendum being pushed by Missouri union bosses. In that case, not only was the Secretary of State’s language misleading, but it also included grammatical errors, something the judge noted when he rewrote it in that case.

11 Jul 2017

Care Providers Ask High Court to Hear Forced ‘Representation’ Challenge

WASHINGTON, D.C – In early June, staff attorneys for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and Liberty Justice Center petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Hill v. SEIU. The case seeks to strike down a compulsory unionism scheme that grants Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials exclusive monopoly “bargaining” powers with Illinois state government for thousands of Illinois caregivers – including many who never joined the union and oppose the union’s so-called ‘representation.’

In the petition to the Court for six Illinois personal-care and childcare providers, Foundation staff attorneys contend that the state law infringes on the providers’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to associate with a union they do not wish to join or support. Granting the union exclusive power to deal with the State of Illinois over caregiving practices violates the caregivers’ right to choose with whom they associate to petition their own government.

The caregivers’ petition to the Supreme Court in Hill follows the National Right to Work Foundation’s landmark 2014 Supreme Court victory in Harris v. Quinn, which was also filed for several homebased Illinois care providers. That decision prohibited union officials from collecting mandatory dues or fees from home-based caregivers.

The Hill petition argues that, although the Harris case dealt with compelled fees, because the Court ruled that the state’s justification for mandatory fees was insufficient under the First Amendment, the Supreme Court should strike down the compelled association on the same grounds.

The petition asks the Court to take the case so that it can apply the same standard to the First Amendment infringements created when state law forces home care providers to accept a government- appointed monopoly union agent against their will. Foundation staff attorneys have brought similar challenges on behalf of home and childcare providers in Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Washington State.

“It is outrageous that across the country state laws force home and childcare providers to accept unwanted ‘representation’ from a union they have no interest in joining or supporting,” commented Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens. “This is a clear violation of providers’ freedom of association. We are hopeful that this case will build on the Foundation’s landmark 2014 victory in Harris v. Quinn and end these corrupt forced-unionism schemes for good.”

Like the other Foundation case petitioned to the Court on the same day, Janus v. AFSCME, Hill v. SEIU is on track for the Supreme Court to decide whether to hear it at its conference before the next term begins in the fall.

If four justices agree, the Supreme Court could announce soon after its September 25 conference that it will hear the case. The petition also argues that if the Court doesn’t take the Hill case right away, it should at least hold it pending a decision in the Janus case.

29 Jun 2017

Kentucky Workers Move to Defend Bluegrass State Right to Work Law

Posted in News Releases

National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys help Kentucky workers defend law to ensure union membership and dues payment remain voluntary

Frankfort, KY (June 29, 2017) – With free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, a group of Kentucky workers has filed a motion to intervene in the recently filed union-backed lawsuit attacking Kentucky’s new Right to Work law.

These pro-Right to Work Kentuckians wish to intervene to defend the law because their rights are at stake as workers’ who could be forced to pay union dues or fees without the protections of the Right to Work law which was signed into law in January. In addition to protecting workers freedom of choice when it comes to financial support for union activities, the law has been cited as a reason for historic levels of investment and job creation in the Commonwealth in the months since its passage.

The workers have chosen to intervene to support the law because they believe that it is their right to be free from compulsory unionism, and as workers currently employed in Kentucky, they may suffer from direct harm if union lawyers win their case. In the workers’ motion, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys argue that various union claims to overturn the Right to Work law have been correctly rejected by courts in other states.

Although the State of Kentucky is already defending the law in the case, the motion notes that these workers have a special interest in defending Right to Work and their attorneys can offer legal arguments distinct from those raised by state lawyers.

“Big Labor’s newest attack on the Right to Work comes in a state where there is dramatic support for the measure, and where the citizens are already starting to see the benefit of living in a Right to Work state,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “That’s why we’re committed to defending the rights of workers against any attempt to block or overturn Kentucky’s law making union membership and dues payment strictly voluntary.”

“Big Labor lawyers have been working overtime in recent years, unsuccessfully attempting to slow the spread of Right to Work and restore union bosses’ forced-dues powers,” continued Mix. “If union bosses spent more time making workers want to join a union voluntarily instead of seeking legal loopholes to keep them trapped into paying dues, maybe they wouldn’t fear the choice that Right to Work provides workers so much.”

27 Jun 2017

Massachusetts Educators Ask State High Court to Take Legal Challenge to Public Sector Forced Union Dues

Posted in News Releases

Case argues forcing state employees to subsidize union officials’ speech violates First Amendment protections

Boston, MA (June 27, 2017) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, a group of Massachusetts educators are asking the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to hear their case challenging payments they are currently forced to make to union officials.

In 2014, four University of Massachusetts and Hanover School Committee educators filed a series of prohibited practice charges with the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations (DLR) against their employers and the union that holds monopoly bargaining contracts at their facilities. The charges challenge the constitutionality of the compulsory union fees that they are forced to pay.

The four plaintiffs have chosen to refuse union membership, but all must pay fees to National Educators Association union officials as a condition of their employment. The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, Dr. Ben Branch, is a Finance professor. His colleague and fellow plaintiff, Dr. Curtiss Conner, is a Chemistry professor, both at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Plaintiff Dr. Andre Melcuk is Director of Departmental Information Technology at the Silvio O. Conte National Center for Polymer Research at the University. Dr. Melcuk was born in the Soviet Union and opposes the union based on his dislike of collectivist organizations.

Plaintiff Deborah Curran is a long-term teacher in the Hanover Public Schools. She had the union officials who supposedly “represent” her attempt to invalidate her promotion to a position mentoring new teachers and push to have her investigated and suspended. She ultimately spent nearly $35,000 of her own money battling union officials just to protect her job.

All of these employees believe they would be better off without union representation and desire to be released from paying for the unwanted representation. Their charges at the Massachusetts DLR were dismissed on February 23, 2015, but only recently did the DLR formally transmit the record to the Court of Appeals.

Foundation staff attorneys now seek direct review of the educators’ case by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Ultimately the issue of the constitutionality of forced union fees for public employees will have to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“These are dedicated teachers and professors who are being forced to pay dues and fees to union bosses who do not have their best interests in mind,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “The fact that one of these educators had to pay forced fees to union officials, while the same officials were pushing for her termination, demonstrates the injustice of mandatory union payments for employees who never asked for or wanted union officials’ so-called ‘representation.’”

In addition to this case, Foundation staff attorneys have six other cases in federal court seeking a ruling that forced union payments for public employees violate the First Amendment. One of those cases, Janus v. AFSCME, is currently at the Supreme Court on a petition for certiorari.

22 Jun 2017

Court Rejects Misleading Ballot Language in Big Labor Attempt to Overturn Missouri Right to Work Law

Posted in Blog

With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a group of Missouri workers have just won a victory in their fight to defend the new Missouri Right to Work law from Big Labor attempts to repeal the new law through misleading ballot measures.

In the ruling that was just issued by Cole County Circuit Court Judge Green, the AFL-CIO union-backed repeal referendum ballot language was deemed “improperly, unfairly, and insufficiently constructed…” Judge Green further noted that “The People [of Missouri] are entitled to consider a question which is phrased in a grammatically-competent manner.”

Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, issued the following statement on the ruling:

“Union bosses know that giving workers a choice when it comes to union membership and payment of union fees is popular. This is why they are so intent on misleading the public about their attempts to overturn Missouri’s Right to Work law. Today’s ruling is an important step in defending the right of Missouri employees to work without being forced to pay tribute to a union boss.”

For more information on previous legal actions defending Missouri’s popular Right to Work law, please see the press releases here and here.

21 Jun 2017

Foundation Legal Director Ray LaJeunesse’s commentary on Janus v. AFSCME featured on The Federalist Society Website

Posted in Blog

With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, an Illinois state employee’s legal challenge to forced union dues and fees for public sector workers has garnered significant media attention nationwide since the petition to the Supreme Court of the United States was filed on June 6. Recently, Foundation Legal Director Ray LaJeunesse wrote a blog post on The Federalist Society’s website about the case, Janus v. AFSCME. An excerpt is below.

Twice in the past five years the United States Supreme Court has questioned its holding in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977) (6-3 decision on this issue), that the First Amendment allows a government to force its employees to pay “agency fees” to a labor organization that is their “exclusive representative” for purposes of “collective bargaining” with the government.

To read the whole post please click here.

13 Jun 2017

Janus v. AFSCME Media Roundup

Posted in News Releases

On June 6 the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation petitioned the Supreme Court to hear Janus v. AFSCME a case that could end forced union fees for all public sector employees. The case has generated a lot of media attention. Here are just some samples. Please click the link in the publication name to read the full article.

New York Times – “Last year, the Supreme Court seemed poised to deal a sharp blow to public sector unions. Then Justice Antonin Scalia died and the court deadlocked, granting the unions a reprieve. It may not last long.”

One News Now – “The Janus case is a very important step in our efforts to end the forced payment of fees to a union as a condition of employment,” says Mark Mix of National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation. “The Janus case specifically deals with government employees. Interestingly enough, if we win at the Supreme Court, which we fully intend to do, it would protect every government employee in America from being fired for failure to tender dues or fees to a labor union.”

Washington Free Beacon – “The Supreme Court could revisit a 40-year-old precedent that allows government agencies to force public sector workers to pay union dues, an issue the court deadlocked on in 2016 following the sudden death of Antonin Scalia.”

Illinois News Network – “Foundation President Mark Mix said this is about compelled speech vs. free speech.Mix said what’s happened is there’s “a private institution in between taxpayers and elected officials and [the union] is able to speak for government employees that, heretofore, never asked for, never wanted, and in fact stand back and say, ‘I don’t want you to speak for me,’ as [plaintiffs] have said in this case,” Mix said.”

Foxnews.com – “It’s the state’s burden to justify infringing on a worker’s association rights,” he said. “The key is there’s no difference between collectively bargaining with the government and lobbying the government. If you can’t force people to pay to lobby the government, then you can’t force them to pay union dues or exclusively bargain with them.”

SCOTUSBLOG – “With Justice Neil Gorsuch now on the bench, however, Janus hopes that the Supreme Court will seize its third opportunity to reverse Abood. ”

Washington Examiner – “The case, called Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, asks whether an Illinois state government employee can be forced to pay a so-called “security fee” to the union as a condition of employment. Such fees are common provisions in public-sector union contracts. Losing them would be a severe financial blow to the unions.”