BALTIMORE, Md. (August 6, 2001) – The Communications Workers of America (CWA) union and Verizon Communications face a federal prosecution for illegally seizing approximately $150,000 in forced union dues from employees following last year’s strike.
Agreeing with arguments presented by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued the federal complaint after Verizon employees Kenneth Olszewski and Nancy Simms filed unfair labor practice charges on behalf of thousands of their fellow employees last year.
“Thanks to these vigilant employees, CWA union officials will pay a price for systematically violating worker rights,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
The employees filed the charges after Verizon helped CWA union officials seize dues from employees for a one month period (September 1-25, 2001) following the strike in which no collective bargaining contract was in place. When no such forced-fee agreement is in effect, union officials cannot compel the payment of any dues from workers who exercise their right not to join a union.
The Foundation estimates that union officials illegally seized a total of $150,000 from approximately 3,000 Verizon employees who chose to refrain from union membership, or about $50 per employee. Foundation attorneys are demanding that all illegally collected union fees be returned to the employees, with interest. In its complaint, the NLRB also seeks to force union officials to post notices to Verizon employees informing them of their rights and the union’s violation of those rights.
Foundation attorneys also persuaded the NLRB to issue a complaint against Verizon itself. According to the Board’s complaint, “Verizon has provided illegal assistance and support to the union” by sending union officials illegally demanded union dues, seized from employees through paycheck deductions. A hearing in Baltimore before an administrative law judge, who will determine appropriate damages to be awarded to the employees and appropriate remedies for the union’s and Verizon’s violations, has been scheduled for fall 2001.
In 1997, the same union was prosecuted by the NLRB for the same scheme during a hiatus of a collective bargaining contract with Bell Atlantic (which later became Verizon).
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (August 2, 2001) — A group of employees at a casket manufacturing facility who were illegally forced to pay union dues for politics filed federal charges today against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200.
With the help of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, the Marsellus Casket employees, Mark L. Miller, Scott Bayer, and David Sprague, filed the federal charges with the National Labor Relations Board asking for prosecution of the union for unfair labor practices.
“No longer will these employees tolerate the union’s practice of fleecing them for political cash,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Foundation.
The charges state that SEIU Local 200 officials failed to honor employees’ resignations from formal union membership and continued to collect full union dues from the objectors, in violation of numerous court rulings, including the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck, workers may halt and reclaim all union dues spent on politics and other activities unrelated to workplace bargaining.
Secretive SEIU officials also failed to provide employees with a breakdown of how their union fees were being spent, making it impossible for them to identify the portion of the fees that they cannot legally be forced to pay as nonmembers. Union officials violated the Foundation-won Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson precedent, in which the Supreme Court held that unions must provide employees with an independent audit of their books before seizing any forced union dues.
Foundation attorneys are demanding that SEIU Local 200 officials return all union dues illegally seized from the paychecks of the employees and provide proper financial disclosure to all bargaining unit employees and notify them of their right to object to union membership and union politics.
Springfield, Va. (July 31, 2001) — The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced today that it has hired David Garland, a civil rights and employment attorney and a graduate of the George Mason University Law School.
“David adds even more energy to the Foundation’s precedent-setting litigation program, and his background demonstrates the type of legal expertise required to confront union officials’ abuse of employee rights around the nation,” said Reed Larson, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Specifically, Garland will help build on the Foundation’s successful litigation record on behalf of union-abused teachers. The Foundation is currently litigating 144 cases against the National Education Association union, a union which many academics say is increasingly responsible for declining education standards in America over the last 30 years.
Garland comes to the Foundation from the administration of Virginia Governor James Gilmore, where he served in the Secretary of Education’s office as Counsel and Policy Advisor to the Virginia Business-Education Partnership. Garland has also worked for the Institute for Justice, the Center for Individual Rights, and two other public-interest litigation firms in Washington, D.C.
He is a native of Roanoke, Virginia and is a member of the Board of Directors of George Mason University Alumni of Richmond.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (July 18, 2001) — A Sheraton Grand Sacramento employee today filed federal charges against an international hotel union for illegally concealing union spending practices from employees, including how much is spent on politics, and for demanding that employees sign a union membership card or face punitive “initiation fees.”
The luxury downtown hotel recently recognized the union without a vote of the employees, and its first contract with the union requires all employees to pay union dues or forfeit their jobs.
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys filed the unfair labor practice charges on behalf of Heath Langle, an employee at one of the hotel’s restaurants, with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) International Union and its Sacramento-based Local 49 affiliate.
“Secretive union officials are engaged in a campaign of deception in order to con hotel employees into paying forced union dues for politics,” said Foundation Director of Legal Information Randy Wanke.
The charges state that union officials have failed to provide employees with a breakdown of union expenditures, as required by law. By refusing to divulge their expenses for political campaigning and other activities which employees cannot be required to fund with their forced union dues, union officials violated the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson decision. Also, in the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck decision, the Supreme Court held that employees may halt and reclaim all union dues or fees siphoned into politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
The charges also state that in what appears to be a way to trick employees into joining the union, Local 49 union officials provided them with confusing dual union membership/dues deductions forms and told them they would be subject to “initiation fees” up to $95 if they did not sign and return the forms.
Since the Local 49 union is carrying out the policies established by its HERE international union parent, Foundation attorneys are demanding that the NLRB order the HERE union, which collects dues from employees throughout North America, to halt its illegal practice of discriminating against union objectors and to provide proper, independently audited financial disclosure to all employees.
WINCHESTER, Va. (July 12, 2001) – National Right to Work Foundation attorneys have forced the payment of an undisclosed monetary settlement, in a case against the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, for involvement in a violence campaign against non-striking workers at Abex Friction Products (now Federal-Mogul Friction Products, a General Motors supplier) in 1996.
Five employees and the spouse of an employee, who were terrorized during a four-week strike at the Winchester brake manufacturing plant, settled multiple civil conspiracy lawsuits pending in the Circuit Court of the City of Winchester against UAW Local 149 and the UAW international union. (As part of the settlement, the employees and their attorneys are barred from revealing specific details of the agreement.)
“The union has finally been forced to pay a price for its involvement in a bloody campaign that left a massive trail of violence and vandalism in its wake,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal aid to victims of compulsory unionism abuse.
As part of the violence campaign aimed at the non-striking workers, union militants dumped a severed, bloody cow’s head on the hood of a worker’s car and another in a worker’s backyard. In addition to the claims against the union itself, the lawsuits charged several union militants with civil conspiracy and other counts for making death threats, shooting out windows, sending obscene mail, acts of stalking, theft of property, and harassing workers on the job to coerce them into quitting their jobs.
Foundation attorneys also helped introduce evidence to a Virginia special grand jury that ultimately found that union members met at the union hall to organize the violent crimes and distributed newsletters that encouraged acts of retaliation against non-striking workers. Additionally, the General District Court found several union militants guilty of multiple counts of harassment and violence.
In earlier court documents in the case, Winchester Circuit Court Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. commented, “the workplace is not a jungle in which coemployees may prey upon weaker coemployees.”
Springfield, Va. (July 3, 2001) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation today announced the promotion of senior staff attorney Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr., to the position of Vice President and Legal Director.
LaJeunesse succeeds Rex H. Reed, who recently retired after serving 30 years as Legal Director for the Foundation.
“As the Foundation’s new Legal Director, I’ll continue to keep our precedent-setting program on the cutting edge of protecting hardworking Americans against the evils of compulsory unionism,” said LaJeunesse.
LaJeunesse was promoted to Legal Director based on his 30 years of successful litigation on behalf of union-abused workers. He became the Foundation’s first staff attorney in 1971 and has helped direct some of the Foundation’s most important and far-reaching legal victories, including the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association and Communications Workers v. Beck.
As Legal Director, LaJeunesse is responsible for overseeing the Foundation’s legal aid program, which has helped hundreds of thousands of workers victimized by forced unionism abuse throughout the country and built powerful precedents expanding employee rights. He will also be in charge of developing long-term legal strategies and goals. One of those goals, according to LaJeunesse, is ultimately to bring a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in which compulsory unionism itself could be declared unconstitutional.
LaJeunesse received his law degree from Washington & Lee University in 1967. In addition to litigation, he has communicated his expertise on employee rights through public speeches, articles in legal journals, and testimony before Congress.
Oxnard, Calif. (June 28, 2001) — 150 berry pickers who were illegally fired by the Coastal Berry Company at the demand of United Farm Worker (UFW) union officials filed state unfair labor practice charges today against the union and their former employer. The workers were fired for exercising their right not to subsidize union political activities.
With the assistance of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, Francisco Alzazar, Bertha Ambriz, Bertha Andrade, Ella Carranza, Alma Rose Arredondo, and Manuel Mena filed the class-action charges against the UFW and the Coastal Berry Company with California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB). Coastal Berry, which employs approximately 750 workers, is the world’s largest strawberry producer.
“In a cold-hearted act of retribution, UFW union officials and Coastal Berry put 150 workers out on the street,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason.
In May 2000, by order of the ALRB, UFW union officials were granted monopoly bargaining power at Coastal Berry. In March 2001, Coastal Berry entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the UFW union. Shortly thereafter, UFW officials demanded that all Coastal Berry workers join the union and sign payroll deduction cards that would have allowed union officials to seize dues from their paychecks. More than 150 workers refused to comply with the UFW union’s illegal ultimatum and were fired last March at the demand of union officials.
The charges state that UFW union officials violated the rights of employees by demanding that they become full union members and pay full union dues as a condition of employment, in violation of several Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decisions, including CWA v. Beck. UFW union officials also violated the rights of employees by failing to provide workers with an independent audit of union expenditures as required by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson.
Foundation attorneys are seeking to force Coastal Berry to rehire all the fired berry pickers, with back pay, and to force UFW union officials to post notices informing all Coastal Berry workers of their right to object to belonging to the union.
California State Senator Tom McClintock (R-19th District), whose legislative district includes Oxnard, also weighed in on behalf of the workers. “The National Right to Work Foundation should be commended for representing the hard-working Californians that have been denied their jobs due to politics. Ironically, the UFW claims to be for workers, yet it turned more than 150 workers away from the fields where they have labored for years.”
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (June 28, 2001) — Utilizing free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, several state employees intervened today to defend Utah’s Voluntary Contributions Act, a recently enacted measure that requires union officials to obtain union members’ permission before spending their dues for political activities.
Claiming that the law’s requirements infringe the unions’ freedom of association rights, the Utah AFL-CIO and the state’s biggest government unions had filed suit in April to overturn the new law as unconstitutional. The employees filing the countersuit today in the Third District Court in Salt Lake County seek to defend the statute and their constitutional rights.
The employees argue that without rights granted under the Voluntary Contributions Act, employees must give up their workplace voice in order to exercise their political freedom. That’s because state law grants union officials the exclusive right to negotiate contracts on behalf of employees. Only union members are allowed a voice about workplace issues that control the terms of their employment.
Therefore, the employees argue, the court should uphold the Voluntary Contributions Act as constitutional. If it does not, then the court must declare that the state’s monopoly bargaining law is unconstitutional.
“Union officials want it both ways. They jealously guard their many government-granted privileges while opposing all measures to protect individual employees from the adverse consequences,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an organization that provides free legal aid to victims of compulsory unionism abuse.
The individual employees ask the court to declare that the Voluntary Contributions Act is constitutional because they have a constitutional right to withhold dues spent for political and ideological activities. Additionally, they ask the court to declare they have a right to full financial disclosure revealing how the union spends employees’ dues money.
The employees intervening in the case are teachers Christy Morris, John Clark, Wendy Solomon, and Nancy Granducci, firefighter Robert Miles, and school technical advisor Joe Granducci.
STANFORD, Calif. (June 28, 2001) — A Stanford Hospital nurse today filed federal charges against a local nursing union after its officials illegally demanded that she pay a fine for refusing to abandon critically ill patients during a recent strike.
With the help of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, Barbara Williams, a nurse at Stanford Hospital and Clinic, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA) union.
“This union harassment of a loyal nurse for standing by her patients is outrageous,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Foundation. “The union must now be held to account.”
In April of this year, union officials imposed an illegal fine of $2,500 on Williams for exercising her Right to Work during a June 2000 strike. Williams, who refused to take part in a walkout which left patients unattended, cannot be subject to union fines or “discipline” because she is not a union member.
Since the strike, Williams has been subject to threats and continual harassment from striking nurses.
The charges also state that union officials have been unlawfully seizing full union dues from Williams since 1988. The union’s dues-collection practices violate the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decision Communications Workers v. Beck, which held that workers may resign their union memberships and pay a reduced fee representing only the union’s proven collective bargaining costs.
CRONA officials never notified Williams of her Beck rights and continue to demand that she fork over an amount equal to full union dues. CRONA officials have also failed to provide Williams with any breakdown of their fees or an audit of union finances, in violation of disclosure requirements established under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson decision.
Foundation attorneys are demanding that CRONA officials halt their practice of collecting full union dues from nonmembers, provide proper financial disclosure to employees, and rescind the fine illegally imposed on Williams for refusing to walk out on Stanford’s patients.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 28, 2001) — National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys today filed a “Friend of the Court” brief in federal court in response to a lawsuit filed by union lawyers to stop employees from finding out about their right to reclaim their forced union dues spent for politics.
Foundation attorneys filed the Amicus Brief on behalf of union-abused workers after the United Auto Workers (UAW) lawyers filed the lawsuit to stop the Bush Administration from enforcing Executive Order 13201, which simply requires federal contractors to post a standard workplace notice informing employees of their rights under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Communications Workers v. Beck. Beck, a case won by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys in 1988, established that employees cannot be compelled to formally join a union or pay dues spent for politics or any other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
UAW lawyers ironically complained that President George W. Bush’s executive order imposes “substantial administrative burdens” on businesses.
The UAW union, along with the UAW-Labor Employment and Training Corporation and two affiliates of the Office and Professional Employees International Union, quietly filed the lawsuit last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and several other high-ranking Administration officials.