SAN JUAN PUEBLO, N.M. (January 15, 2002) – In a precedent-setting 9-1 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has upheld the sovereign right of Native American reservations to pass Right to Work laws to protect workers from being forced to pay union dues.
The ruling announced today advances the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s battle to protect Right to Work laws around the country. The decision affirms that the 300 Native American reservations across America may pass Right to Work laws to limit forced unionism. Attracted to growing economies, union organizers have made increasing efforts in recent years to unionize companies on reservations. This ruling clears the path for tribal governments to act without interference from the federal government.
“Not only is this a tremendous victory for Native American workers and reservations around the country, but also for the Right to Work movement,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, which provided free legal advice to the Pueblo’s attorneys and filed as amicus curiae in the case. “In addition to preserving individual rights, Right to Work laws will help to bring new business and economic growth to these long-impoverished regions.”
The case arose when the tribal council of the Pueblo of San Juan passed a Right to Work ordinance that gave workers the right not to join and not to financially support a union as a job condition. Union bosses at the Western Council of Industrial Workers Local 1385 then filed unfair labor charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against an employer operating on the Pueblo.
The Clinton NLRB’s General Counsel brought the full force of the federal government down on the tribe. The NLRB filed for a preliminary injunction in early 1998 in the U.S. District Court for New Mexico to crush the Pueblo’s Right to Work law. After losing completely at the trial court, the federal government lost again on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals. And, after the ruling of the rare en banc court, the NLRB has now lost a third time. In affirming the District Court’s ruling, the appellate court stated, “The legislative enactment of the Pueblo’s right-to-work ordinance was also clearly an exercise of sovereign authority over economic transactions on the reservation.”
Section 14(b) of the National Labor Relations Act affirmed that states and territories may pass laws which protect employees from forced unionism imposed by federal law. Thus, 22 states have passed highly popular Right to Work laws. While other New Mexico unionized workers can still be fired for not paying union dues because the state has not enacted such a law, the San Juan Pueblo passed its Right to Work provision in November 1996.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (January 15, 2002) — In response to charges brought by hospital employees at Youngstown’s St. Elizabeth Health Center, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a formal complaint against Teamsters Local 377 for unfair labor practices. The workers, with the assistance of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, filed federal charges last year against the union for refusing to accept their resignations and for failing to properly notify them of their right to refrain from paying dues to subsidize union political activities.
“Teamsters officials must now answer for their systematic shaking down of employees,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal aid to victims of compulsory unionism abuse. “Hopefully, this is a signal that the Bush NLRB plans to stand up for union-abused workers.”
Officials of the Youngstown-based union refused to accept employees’ written resignations from union membership and told employees that they must pay all “back dues” before the union would even consider their resignations. Local Teamsters union officials were also charged with using payroll deductions to collect alleged “preexisting debt arrearages” that the union could not lawfully obligate the workers to pay under its forced unionism clause.
Under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision, workers may resign from formal union membership at any time and pay only for the union’s proven collective bargaining costs, an amount that is only a fraction of full union dues.
Unless the Teamsters Local 377 remedies its lawbreaking, the case will proceed to a trial before an NLRB administrative law judge.
Washington, D.C. (January 7, 2002) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation today called upon President George W. Bush to appeal the U. S. District Court’s decision to invalidate his executive order requiring federal contractors to post notices informing employees that they cannot be compelled to pay union dues spent for partisan politics or any other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
At the same time, the Foundation delivered an initial wave of 39,000 signed grassroots petitions urging President Bush to defend his executive order from union attack.
“The White House must appeal the court’s decision without delay to slow union officials’ systematic shakedown of working Americans for hundreds of millions dollars for politics,” stated Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “This is an important test for the White House. To what extent will the President use his power to free workers from union exploitation?”
Signed on February 17, 2001, Executive Order 13201 would affect a segment of the 12 million American employees compelled to pay union dues as a condition of employment, as it requires companies with federal contracts to inform workers of their rights under the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Communications Workers v. Beck. Bush’s father issued a similar executive order in April of 1992 that was immediately revoked at the request of union officials when President Clinton took office in 1993. Additionally, the Clinton National Labor Relations Board stonewalled the enforcement of these precious employee protections, often leaving many cases languishing within the bureaucracy for six or more years.
Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. of U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia last week enjoined the implementation of the President’s directive on the grounds that the action was preempted by Congress – despite the fact that Bush’s executive order only seeks to enforce the Supreme Court’s interpretation of congressionally enacted law. In May 2001, a group of unions filed the case, known as UAW-Labor Employment and Training Corporation et al. v. Chao et al.
“Union officials seem to be willing to go to any length to keep the forced union dues flowing into their massive political machine,” said Gleason. “Since polls show that 62 percent of unionized employees do not want their money spent this way, union officials are terrified of the consequences if workers learn about their right to withhold this money.”
Copies of the Foundation’s letter and the grassroots petitions are available upon request.
San Francisco, Calif. (January 4, 2002) – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has found reason to believe the California Faculty Association (CFA) discriminated against California State University (CSU) Professor Charles Baird by refusing to accommodate his sincere religious objections to joining or paying compulsory agency fees to the union. The federal agency judged the CFA’s actions to be in direct violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Right Act after hearing arguments from attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
“This ruling reaffirms that Big Labor cannot trample on someone’s religious freedom,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “The CFA claims to stand up for the rights of employees, but this case shows that it only wants to stand for forced unionism.”
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys first filed the religious discrimination charges with the EEOC on November 6, 2000, after the CFA refused to honor Professor Baird’s objection to supporting the union on the grounds that it violated his religious beliefs. As a Roman Catholic, Baird objects to union affiliation on the grounds, among others, that he would be supporting an organization that has promoted conflict and used coercion to achieve its goals.
“Dr. Baird’s case shows that Big Labor believes paying tribute to a union is more important than paying tribute to your faith,” stated Gleason. “The indifference union operatives have shown to honest men like Professor Baird is exactly why we need to protect every American’s right to free association.”
Under Title VII, unions must accommodate sincere religious objectors by, at least, allowing them to make charitable contributions in lieu of paying union fees. Unless the CFA remedies its lawbreaking and discriminatory behavior, the EEOC has ordered the case will be handed over to the courts for enforcement.
Des Moines, Iowa (January 3, 2002) – Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, joined Iowa Senate Majority Leader Stew Iverson at a press conference to voice their outrage at, and planned legal action against, the Polk County Board of Supervisors’ attempt to impose a project labor agreement (PLA) on the construction of the Iowa Events Center.
“The Polk County Board of Supervisors is launching an assault on Iowa’s precious Right to Work law, which gives employees the freedom to choose whether or not to affiliate with a union,” said Gleason. “Not only is this proposal discriminatory against the vast majority of Iowa’s workers, who have refrained from union membership, but such a scheme would also force taxpayers to pay the price through resulting delays and ballooning costs.”
PLAs are contracts on government-funded construction projects that are awarded exclusively to contractors who agree to accept union regulations and restrictions, whether they are unionized or not, as a prerequisite for bidding on a project. They usually require contractors to grant union officials monopoly bargaining privileges over all workers; use exclusive union hiring halls; and pay above-market prices resulting from wasteful work rules and featherbedding.
“Iowans are outraged that the Polk County Board of Supervisors is allowing union officials to use government contracts to harm workers who choose not to associate with unions,” said Gleason. “Work should be awarded on the basis of who can do the best job at a reasonable price, not on the basis of whether an employee unwillingly subjects himself to unionization.”
“If upheld, the Polk County PLA will line the pockets of Iowa’s union officials at the expense of taxpayers and individual rights.”
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (December 17, 2001) – Filing on behalf of approximately 80,000 fellow independent home care providers who serve elderly and disabled citizens in Los Angeles County, Janos Hummel today served top California government officials and a powerful labor union with a federal lawsuit challenging a scheme that arbitrarily deems private care providers “public employees” and requires them to pay union dues in violation of their First Amendment rights.
The AFL-CIO has hailed the forced unionization of the 80,000 home care providers as organized labor’s single largest organizing victory ever. Sacramento and San Diego counties and, more recently, Oregon and Washington state, have since adopted virtually identical schemes.
The civil rights class action, filed by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, names as defendants the AFL-CIO-affiliated Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 434B, the Personal Assistance Services Council (PASC) of Los Angeles County, and Attorney General Bill Lockyer, along with several other California officials.
“Union chiefs devised this lucrative scheme to seize money from taxpayers, disabled citizens, and those who care for them,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which is providing free legal aid to the plaintiffs. “This suit intends to halt the AFL-CIO’s illegal plan to use government force to unionize independent home care providers across America.”
In 1999, Local 434B officials gained recognition by PASC as the exclusive bargaining agents of home care workers who provide non-medical in-home support services to disabled low-income clients. Although they are reimbursed through the state, the workers are independently hired, fired, supervised, and trained by individual recipients of home care. The constitutionally suspect agreement brokered between union operatives and government bureaucrats declares home care providers are “public employees” for collective bargaining purposes only and has no bearing on hiring, firing, training, work schedules, workplace safety, disputes with employers, and other terms of workers’ employment. Workers must also obtain their own insurance and indemnify the state and county from any claims resulting from on-the-job acts.
The class-action lawsuit asks that SEIU Local 434B’s entire contract with PASC, and as well as its ability to collect forced dues from independent home care providers, be revoked as an unconstitutional infringement on workers’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. National Right to Work Foundation attorneys are also demanding all illegally seized union dues be returned to the plaintiffs.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (December 3, 2001) — To balance against the monolithic public relations message of union officials at the AFL-CIO’s 24th biennial convention at Paris/Bally’s hotel, a spokesman for a national legal aid organization that is helping thousands of employee victims of union coercion and violence will be available for media interviews.
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason, who appears frequently on national television and radio programs, and whose writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, Washington Times, and numerous other publications, is prepared to respond to the claims made by union officials during this year’s AFL-CIO convention. He can authoritatively comment on, for example:
- how the AFL-CIO is out of step with rank and file workers;
- how Big Labor raises and spends resources used for its aggressive political activities;
- how the AFL-CIO is increasingly reliant on explicit government grants of power to swell union ranks where efforts at persuading workers to join unions voluntarily have failed;
- how union officials have succeeded in unionizing record numbers of government employees;
- why union bosses fight so hard to defeat Right to Work laws, which protect employees’ right to refrain from union membership.
To contact Gleason during the December 3-6 AFL-CIO convention, please call the National Right to Work Foundation at 1-800-336-3600 or Gleason’s cell phone at 703-856-7399.
SPRINGFIELD, Va. (November 16, 2001) – In response to a multi-union lawsuit, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation today announced it will devote “all resources necessary” to defend the will of Oklahoma workers and taxpayers who recently enacted the nation’s 22nd Right to Work law.
Attempting to overturn long-established legal precedents affirming the constitutionality of state Right to Work laws, union officials filed suit against Governor Frank Keating and the State of Oklahoma in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, demanding that the Sooner State’s Right to Work law be struck down as unconstitutional.
“Stung by the loss of their ability to rip forced union dues from the paychecks of hardworking Oklahomans, union bosses are resorting to cynical legal maneuvers in an attempt to get revenge against Oklahoma’s voters,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “We are prepared to devote all resources necessary to defending Oklahoma’s Right to Work law from union attack.”
Oklahoma became the nation’s 22nd Right to Work state after voters approved State Question 695, a constitutional amendment making it illegal for union officials to force workers to join a union or pay any union dues as a condition of employment. Instead of having the power to get workers fired for not supporting a union, union officials must now earn their support.
Not only does Oklahoma’s new Right to Work measure protect employee freedom, it also promotes economic growth and the creation of new jobs.
In filing the lawsuit, union lawyers apparently dusted off long-dead legal arguments that state Right to Work laws violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the National Labor Relations Act. Those arguments were rejected by the United States Supreme Court in two 1949 cases, Lincoln Federal Labor Union v. Northwestern Iron & Metal Company and Algoma Plywood Co. v. Wisconsin Board. In Algoma, the High Court upheld states’ ability to pass Right to Work laws even before Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act was passed by Congress in 1947. Section 14(b) explicitly reaffirmed that ability.
Oklahoma union officials made the same spurious arguments in television ads aired just days before the election. The lawsuit appears to be a face-saving maneuver to show that the unions actually believe their own rhetoric.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 8, 2001) – In a ruling that is likely to be appealed, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia struck down a pro-worker Executive Order signed by President George W. Bush that banned union-only contracts, or project labor agreements (PLAs), on federally funded construction projects.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan issued the dramatic ruling yesterday, marking the first Executive Order of Bush that has been struck down.
“PLAs amount to extortion – union officials demand taxpayer handouts and government-granted special privileges in exchange for not ordering strikes or causing other disruptions,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
“This ruling protects 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.”
Under union-only PLAs, contracts on government-funded construction projects are awarded exclusively to contractors who agree to force compulsory unionism on their employees. PLAs usually require contractors to grant union officials monopoly bargaining privileges over all workers; force their employees to pay union dues; use exclusive union hiring halls; and pay above-market prices resulting from wasteful work rules and featherbedding.
The ruling could have a disastrous effect on the massive Wilson Bridge construction project on Interstate 495, as Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening has vowed to use the controversial PLAs.
In their “Friend of the Court” brief at the trial court level, Foundation attorneys argued that President Bush acted within his constitutional authority by issuing Executive Order 13202 banning union-only contracts. If the Bush Administration appeals the court’s decision, Foundation attorneys stand ready to devote even more legal resources in defense of the order.
SPRINGFIELD, Va. (November 7, 2001) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced today that it has hired John R. Martin, a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law.
“John Martin brings even more firepower to our nationally recognized legal team,” said Ray LaJeunesse, Legal Director of the National Right to Work Foundation. “He has demonstrated a strong commitment to defending the rights of employees who suffer under forced unionism.”
Martin will help build on the Foundation’s successful litigation record on behalf of union-abused workers. Foundation attorneys have won several cases in the United States Supreme Court. The Foundation is currently assisting nearly 200,000 employees throughout the country.
Prior to joining the Foundation’s legal team, Martin clerked for the Office of the Independent Counsel, where he helped uncover and present details of the Whitewater investigation of President Bill Clinton. In addition, the attorney has worked for two other law firms and as a tax and budgetary policy analyst for Americans for Tax Reform.
Martin has authored articles that have appeared in the Texas Review of Law & Politics and Investor’s Business Daily.
He was admitted to the Texas Bar earlier this year.