Cleveland, Ohio (May 9, 2002) — The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed an amicus curiae brief with the Ohio Supreme Court in support of the Open Contracting Act, a state law that bans the use of union-only contracts, or project labor agreements (PLAs), on government construction projects.
After the law was passed, in July 1999, union lawyers sued the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners in an attempt to overturn the legislature’s decision and retain forced unionism on all state construction projects.
In their “Friend of the Court” brief, Foundation attorneys argue that the state legislature acted within its rights, under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), to pass a law prohibiting a form of compulsory unionism. The appellate court used these very arguments to uphold the law.
“It is wrong for the government to support a scheme that bilks taxpayers out of millions of dollars and deprives employees of their basic right to choose whether or not to affiliate with a union,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “PLAs are nothing more than a shakedown — union officials use them to demand taxpayer handouts and government-granted special privileges in exchange for not ordering strikes or causing other disruptions.”
A PLA is a scheme that requires all contractors, whether they are unionized or not, to subject themselves and their employees to unionization in order to work on government-funded construction projects. PLAs usually require contractors to grant union officials monopoly bargaining privileges over all workers; use exclusive union hiring halls; force workers to pay dues as a condition of employment; and pay above-market prices resulting from wasteful work rules and featherbedding.
In October 1999, a trial court permanently enjoined enforcement of the law. In reviewing the statute, an Ohio appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision and ruled that the NLRA does not prohibit states from banning discriminatory, union-only PLAs, on government construction projects. The Foundation participated as amicus curiae in the Court of Appeals, and raised the issue of a state’s right under the NLRA to prohibit PLAs.
In February 2002, the Ohio Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction over the case, and oral arguments will be heard later this year.
Los Angeles, Calif. (May 6, 2002) — With the help of the National Right to Work Foundation, Matthew Kahn filed suit today in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE), for damages incurred during a vicious union beating following a 2001 strike.
The lawsuit alleges that on May 18, 2001, UNITE organizer Ramiro Hernandez and several union militants attacked Kahn in the parking lot of Labor Ready’s office in Commerce, giving him a concussion and several gashes on his head.
According to the complaint, the union brass bailed Hernandez, a long time union organizer, out of jail after the assault. Later investigation showed that Hernandez possesses an extensive arrest record for union-related activities.
“These thugs must be made to pay for their cowardly assault on an innocent man,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
The problems began in March 2001, when UNITE Local 482 began a strike against Hollander Home Fashions. Over the next two months, UNITE union official Ramiro Hernandez continually harassed Matthew Kahn, a branch manager for Labor Ready’s office in Commerce. Kahn was responsible for providing replacement workers during the strike. UNITE and its local affiliates were aware that Hernandez had numerous prior arrests for strike-related violence, and they have provided financial support to help Hernandez escape any punishment for his violent actions.
“By encouraging and supporting Hernandez and his goons, the top brass of UNITE are directly responsible for letting this happen,” stated Gleason.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. The National Institute for Labor Relations has recorded almost 10,000 media-reported incidents of union violence since 1975. Experts on labor- and strike-related violence estimate that unreported acts of harassment could swell that figure to 100,000 or more.
Salt Lake City, Utah (May 3, 2002) — Utah’s Third District Court has rejected union lawyers’ attempts to dismiss a counter suit, brought by employees represented by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, which calls into question the constitutionality of the fundamental union privilege known as monopoly bargaining.
In his ruling issued this week, Judge Stephen L. Henriod will also allow the employees to defend the constitutionality of Utah’s Voluntary Contributions Act (VCA) – a regulation that intends to give union members the right to withhold union dues spent for political activities. If the court refuses to uphold the VCA as constitutional, the court will consider the employees alternative argument that monopoly bargaining power – held in many locales by union officials of the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) and Utah Education Association (UEA) – is unconstitutional.
Even though Utah has a highly popular and effective Right to Work law that enables nonunion employees to pay no dues whatsoever to an unwanted union, the still-intact monopoly bargaining privilege forces employees to accept the rigid terms of “one size fits all” union-brokered contracts – contracts that tend to punish the best and most productive employees.
Union monopoly bargaining bars all employees – even union objectors – from individually negotiating over the terms of their own employment. And using their monopoly bargaining privilege, union officials refuse to allow non-union members any input into workplace issues that directly affect them.
“Monopoly bargaining often leaves employees who don’t support the union’s ideological agenda with an intolerable choice: Join the unwanted union and pay for its politics or give up their workplace voice,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys filed to intervene in this case on behalf of union members who oppose their unions’ politicking. Foundation attorneys argue that, if Big Labor lawyers succeed in overturning the VCA as an unconstitutional interference into private union matters, then monopoly bargaining must also be declared unconstitutional for all Utah’s government employees because of its inherent infringements on their rights to free speech and association.
Springfield, Va. (April 29, 2002) – On Wednesday, May 1, Iowa celebrates its 55th year of prosperity as a Right to Work state. Since 1947, Iowa’s workers have enjoyed the benefits of higher wages, better jobs, and protection from the abusive system of compulsory unionism that still plagues 28 states.
To mark this occasion, spokesmen from the National Right to Work Foundation are available to discuss the ongoing struggle to protect workers from union abuses and corruption, and to explain how Iowa has benefited from its Right to Work law, which bans the practice of forcing workers to join or support a union as a condition of employment.
“Championing the Right to Work shows that Iowa is committed to protecting individual liberty and continued economic growth,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is why the Right to Work law is so popular throughout the state.”
Recently, Iowa’s Right to Work law has been under attack from the Polk County Board of Supervisors, who intend to impose a discriminatory union-only Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for the building of the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. The Foundation is supporting efforts to halt the use of a PLA and allow Iowa’s most efficient workers and contractors to work on the project.
“The attempt of union officials to ram this union-only PLA down the throats of Iowa taxpayers shows that Big Labor is committed to destroying the precious Right to Work principle, which gives employees the freedom to choose whether or not to affiliate with a union,” stated Gleason. “This proposal discriminates against the vast majority of Iowa’s workers and illustrates the kind of abuses that flow from unchecked union coercive power.”
To schedule an interview with Stefan Gleason, please contact Dan Cronin at 703-770-3317.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (April 23, 2002) – The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California today ordered the Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG) union to return nearly $300,000 to California state employees who were illegally forced to pay for lobbying and other union political activities.
U.S. District Court Judge Garland E. Burrell, Jr., ruled that the union had seized almost $100 per employee over a seven-month period in 1999 and ordered the union to pay nominal and compensatory damages to 3,200 non-union employees, totaling approximately $298,000.
“Today’s ruling shows that California’s union officials cannot get away with ripping off the working men and women of this state,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, which provided free legal aid to the workers.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys originally filed the class-action suit, Wagner v. PECG, in September 1999 on behalf of Richard Wagner, an investigator for the California Air Resources Board in the Sacramento area, and Kristin Schwall, a water quality engineer from San Diego. In February 2002, the case was deemed a class-action suit, enabling all 3,200 non-union government workers under the PECG’s statewide memorandum of understanding (MOU) – also known as a collective bargaining agreement – to join the suit.
The PECG is one of California’s most politically active unions. At unusually high levels, union officials have seized union dues and used them to fund its ballot initiatives and other political activities. The court held that 56 percent of the amount charged to non-union employees was not lawfully chargeable to non-members, as it was for politics and other activities not shown to be related to bargaining. In union budgets since 1999, the percentage of dues spent for politics has risen to more than 75 percent of full union dues. In recent weeks, the state engineers filed a related class-action complaint seeking a similar rebate for dues illegally seized since April 2001.
According to the constitutional protections construed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-won decisions of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, the union may not collect compulsory dues spent on activities unrelated to collective bargaining. Politics, lobbying, organizing, public relations, and other non-bargaining activities are explicitly non-chargeable to employees who have exercised their right to refrain from union membership.
Buffalo, N.Y. (April 16, 2002) — With the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, four Laidlaw Transit Services employees filed charges against Teamsters officials for illegally forcing them to pay full union dues, including dues spent for politics, and failing to notify them of their right to refrain from formal union membership.
The four workers, Alfonso Ditillio, June Reinard, Jill Galluzzo, and Tim Stalker, have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 449.
“It should come as no surprise that the Teamsters union has such a negative reputation after the way they have lied to and misled these workers,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
Teamsters officials never notified the workers of their right not to join the union and pay a reduced agency fee, rather than the full union dues. When the employees participated in a campaign to decertify the Teamsters as their representative, they were harassed by union officials. After they finally learned of their rights and resigned from the union, in October, 2001, Teamster officials continued to charge them full union dues.
The four worker are seeking to have their dues reduced to the legal minimum. In New York, employees are forced to pay compulsory union fees as a condition of employment.
“This is another example of the corruption and crookedness that plagues the Teamsters,” stated Gleason. “Because New York does not have a Right to Work law to protect people, the Teamsters still have the power to shake down and coerce workers.”
The Teamsters actions violated the workers’ rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck, a case that Foundation attorneys argued and won, workers who are not protected by a Right to Work law may resign from formal union memberships and halt and reclaim the portion of forced union dues spent on politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
New York, N.Y. (April 15, 2002) — With the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a New York University (NYU) employee today filed charges against union officials for illegally forcing her to pay full union dues, including dues spent for politics.
Raechel Legakes, a non-union member, is filing charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against United Staff Association of New York University (USANYU), Local 3882.
“This is a clear case of union officials demanding workers shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Without the protection of a Right to Work law, New Yorkers are forced to pay compulsory union dues or risk losing their jobs.”
When Legakes began working for NYU in January, union officials failed to notify her of her right to refrain from joining the union and to pay a reduced agency fee to the union. Instead, the USANYU has demanded she pay the full cost of union dues, and has refused to provide a breakdown of how the agency fee is calculated. Under New York law, if Legakes does not pay the agency fee, she could be fired from her job.
The USANYU is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the AFL-CIO, two of the most politically active unions in the country. Every year, both organizations seize millions of dollars in compulsory dues to support candidates and causes that many of their members find objectionable. Polls have consistently shown that a majority of rank-and-file union members object to having their dues spent for political activities.
“Unfortunately, this not an isolated incident. Union bosses routinely break the law to try and shake down workers to pay for their political activities,” stated Gleason.
The actions of USANYU officials directly violate the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, which requires unions to provide objecting employees an advance reduction of forced union dues used for politics and other non-bargaining activities. Under Hudson, union officials must provide audited disclosure of their books and justify expenditures made from forced union dues seized from employees who have chosen to refrain from union membership.
Los Angeles, Calif. (April 11, 2002) – With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation, Victoria Heggem filed suit against the Arcadia Teachers Association (ATA) for religious discrimination. Foundation attorneys filed the suit today in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Ms. Heggem, a devout member of the Lake Avenue Congregational Church, asked ATA officials to accommodate her religious beliefs (which prevent her from supporting an organization involved in activities she considers immoral) and instead divert the dues to a mutually agreed upon charity.
In retaliation, ATA union officials demanded Heggem pay $700.00, union dues for a full year, in one lump sum. ATA officials told Heggem that if she did not meet this demand (a demand not imposed on any other teachers), they would not honor her religious objection and would begin automatically deducting fees from her paycheck that would go directly to the objectionable union.
“No one should be forced to support a union and political agenda that they find morally offensive,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is a fight to protect people of faith from being harassed by union bosses.”
Under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, unions must accommodate sincere religious objectors like Heggem by allowing them to make charitable contributions in lieu of paying union fees.
The ATA is an affiliate of the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the National Education Association (NEA), two of the most powerful and politically active teachers’ unions in the country. Many teachers object to the unions’ support for abortion, special rights for homosexuals, and other objectionable social causes.
“Unfortunately, this not an isolated incident. Teachers across the country, regardless of their faith, are being shaken down to pay for this radical agenda,” stated Gleason.
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (April 8, 2002) – After National Right to Work Foundation attorneys filed a series of legal actions against National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) Local 308, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled the union must pay $13,900 to non-union employees who had been denied payment for working overtime.
The case arose when NPMHU officials reached a settlement for overtime reimbursements for work done at the Philadelphia Air Mail Center in 1996 and 1997. But, union officials had refused to submit the names of non-union employees to be paid for their work. When questioned about the payments by non-union members, union officials used stalling tactics and reacted with hostility.
“It is amazing to think that anyone would trust the postal union brass after the way they treated the workers at this facility,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “They tried to deny people their wages since they would not submit to the union’s authority.”
Union officials were also found to have abused the rights of employees in other ways. As a result of the judge’s ruling, the NPMHU officials must also post a notice alerting all the employees of their right not to join the union, and that NPMHU officials will not fail to represent nonmembers, or any other employees, in a fair and impartial manner.
“The callous discrimination these workers endured points up the injustice of the privileges handed to union officials under federal law,” said Gleason.
Though postal employees are denied their right to bargain individually, they do have the right to refrain from joining or financially supporting a union. Union officials may not discriminate against nonmember employees on the basis of union status. Meanwhile, other employees in Pennsylvania are not protected by a Right to Work Law, thereby allowing union officials to force employees through-out the state to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 5, 2002) — Attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation have forced Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 108 to drop their vindictive suit against City of Anderson employee Michael Thompson.
In March, union officials filed the suit against Thompson, a non-union member who works in the city’s water pollution control department, claiming that he owed them $609.72 in back dues, including dues the union may have spent for political activities. Once the union realized that Thompson was represented by Foundation attorneys, they dismissed the suit.
To counter the charges brought by UWUA officials, Foundation attorneys showed that Thompson was never provided with the required disclosure of how non-member fees were spent. As a non-member, Thompson may only be compelled to pay for union expenses that are directly related to collective bargaining and contract administration. Under Foundation-won rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court, Thompson cannot be forced to pay anything until these First Amendment due-process rights are respected.
“The UWUA never intended to provide a record of how they spent workers’ hard-earned money,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “It’s simply pay up and shut up.”
The actions of UWUA officials directly violate the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, which requires unions to provide objecting employees an advance reduction of forced union dues used for politics and other non-bargaining activities. Under Hudson, union officials must provide audited disclosure of their books and justify expenditures made from forced union dues seized from employees who have chosen to refrain from union membership.