14 Apr 2017

Illinois Grocery Workers Appeal Decision Blocking Vote to Remove Union Despite Unanimous Opposition to UFCW Union

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NLRB asked to review Regional Director’s refusal to process decertification petition signed by workers who unanimously want union ousted

Winnetka, IL (April 14, 2017) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a Chicago area worker has asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to review a case in which she and her co-workers were denied the right to decertify a union claiming to represent them, despite the fact that every employee in the bargaining unit signed a petition to remove union representation.

The worker, Maureen Madden, is employed at Lakeside Foods. On March 2, 2017 she filed a petition to decertify the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1456 (UFCW). Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), if a decertification petition garners signatures from 30% or more of the employees in a bargaining unit, the NLRB will conduct a secret-ballot election to determine whether a majority of the employees wish to decertify the union. Every single employee in Madden’s bargaining unit signed the petition in support of removing the union.

Even though the decertification petition had one-hundred percent employee support, the NLRB regional director refused to honor it, citing the so-called “successor bar.” The “successor bar” stems from a 2011 NLRB decision that strips away the rights of employees to decertify a union if a new employer has taken over a bargaining unit.

Although a “successor bar” does not appear anywhere in the NLRA, and the Act’s stated purpose is to give employees a choice in their representative, including declining union representation, the NLRB Region used this doctrine as its justification to keep employees under union control for up to three additional years. Furthermore, because Madden and her co-workers work in Illinois, a state that does not provide Right to Work protections, the NLRB Regional Director’s decision allows UFCW to continue collecting forced fees from the employees as a condition of employment.

Madden’s petition points out that so-called “successor bars” are in conflict with decisions of the Sixth and Seventh Circuits and the Supreme Court, all of which hold that a union’s presumption of majority support can be overcome by proof that a majority of employees do not support the union, as has happened in this case.

“It is absolutely outrageous that this NLRB Regional Director dismissed a petition filed by a worker with every single one of her co-workers supporting it,” commented Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Far from being a neutral arbitrator as the NLRB claims to be, the NLRB Regional Director is actively allowing UFCW to continue to collect forced fees from workers although one-hundred percent object to the union and its so called ‘representation.’ This case highlights why Illinois workers need the protections that Right to Work provides.”

11 Apr 2017

Missouri Workers File New Lawsuit to Defend Right to Work Law From Deceptive Repeal Petition

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Union officials seek to continue their forced dues powers over Missouri workers through misleading ballot questions

Jefferson City, MO (April 11, 2017) – With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys three Missouri workers have filed a legal challenge against an AFL-CIO proposed petition that could repeal Missouri’s new Right to Work law and strip away Right to Work protections from them and hundreds of thousands of other Missouri workers. The plaintiffs, police officers Roger Stickler and Michael Briggs, and nurse Mary Hill, are opposed to mandatory union payments. Each has experienced forced unionism abuses in the past, and could again without the protection of a Missouri Right to Work law. Their lawsuit challenges the deceptive ballot language proposed to overturn the law.

Mike Louis, President of the Missouri AFL-CIO has submitted a repeal petition to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, seeking to delay the enforcement of the recently passed Right to Work bill and submit the issue to the general election ballot in 2018. This petition has been approved by MO Sec. State Jay Ashcroft, and would appear on the 2018 ballot if union organizers obtain a sufficient number of signatures. The workers’ lawsuit challenges the proposed summary statement language as deceptive to voters.

“Once again, rather than be upfront with the Missouri citizens about their intention of restoring their forced unionism powers to have a worker fired for refusing to tender union dues or fees, Missouri union officials are pushing deceptive ballot language,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Right to Work is popular with the people of the state, so Big Labor is hoping to mislead voters into undoing the protections Right to Work provides workers.”

This is not the first legal challenge National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have filed for workers who back Missouri’s Right to Work law that will make union membership and dues payment strictly voluntary. Before the Right to Work bill was signed into law on February 6, AFL-CIO top boss Louis also submitted ten state constitutional amendments to kill the law and give forced unionism state constitutional protection.

Those ten amendments were sent to the desk of former Missouri Secretary of State Kander who approved them just hours before vacating his office. These same three workers sued to challenge the deceptive language that Kander approved. On March 24, the Cole County Circuit Court judge ruled that the ballot language was “unfair and insufficient,” and rewrote the language that will appear on the ballot in 2018 if union bosses collect enough signatures. The unions have appealed the ruling, and National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys are continuing to defend against the appeal to protect the lower court ruling.

10 Apr 2017

Labor Board to Prosecute Flying Food Group for Illegally Firing Worker for Opposition to Union Dues

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Worker was fired for seeking to end the forced unionism clause at his workplace and informing co-workers of their rights not to fund union political spending

Los Angeles, CA (April 10, 2017) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a complaint against Flying Food Group for illegally firing a worker as retribution for distributing a deauthorization petition that would remove the forced unionism clause in its union contract and informing co-workers of their right not to pay for union activities unrelated to bargaining. The complaint was issued after NLRB investigators found merit to charges filed against the Flying Food Group by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys for the worker, Douglas Cisneros.

Both activities are protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) even in states lacking Right to Work protections like California. The company has a nationwide agreement with the union that puts its employees under union control.

Cisneros, worked as a cook for the company. In July 2016, he began to circulate a deauthorization petition among his co-workers. If it garners enough signatures a deauthorization petition results in a vote to remove the forced unionism clause in the contract that requires workers to pay fees to United Here Local 11 as a condition of their employment.

Cisneros also circulated information to his coworkers about their rights under the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck United States Supreme Court case. Under Beck, workers have the right to opt out of paying full union dues that include union political lobbying and spending. After learning that Cisneros was exercising these legal rights, company officials terminated his employment on August 16, 2016, falsely claiming that he violated company rules against “engaging in rude or disorderly conduct.”

The NLRB complaint seeks an order requiring Flying Food Group to post notices in Spanish in addition to English and to reinstate Cisneros and reimburse him for back pay resulting from his illegal firing. A hearing is scheduled for June 20, 2017, before NLRB Region 31 in Los Angeles.

“It is outrageous Mr. Cisneros was fired simply for informing his co-workers of their rights and attempting to end union bosses’ power to require him and his coworkers to pay union dues as a condition of keeping their jobs,” commented Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This case highlights why Californian workers need Right to Work protections that would ensure that union membership and dues payment is strictly voluntary.”

3 Apr 2017

Verizon Workers Hit CWA Union Officials with Charges for Retaliation for Working During Strike

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SPFPA union officials continued to collect dues over workers’ objections despite majority vote by employees that ended mandatory payments

New York, NY (April 3, 2017) – Four Brooklyn Verizon employees have filed federal unfair labor practice (ULP) charges against the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union for violating federal labor law after the employees exercised their right to resign their union memberships during a high-profile strike in May 2016. The charges were filed with free legal assistance provided by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.

In April 2016, CWA union officials announced a coordinated work stoppage at Verizon facilities and ordered workers up and down the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Virginia, to abandon their jobs. CWA Local 1109, which is the subject of the ULP charges, participated in the multi-state strike.

Soon after CWA union officials ordered the strike, the four workers who filed the charges chose to resign from the union and returned to work. Under federal law, workers cannot be compelled to join a union-boss ordered strike. However, under a 1972 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling, to protect themselves from internal union discipline they must resign their formal union membership before to returning to work, as each of these workers did.

On March 16, 2017, these workers were notified by CWA officials that they were being tried by the union on internal charges of violating the union’s constitution, despite the fact that these workers were not union members when they returned to work and thus are protected by federal law. These four workers turned to the Foundation for assistance, and filed ULP charges with the NLRB.

The union has notified the workers that an internal tribunal, which has no legal jurisdiction over the workers, is scheduled for April 16.

“Once again union officers are blatantly violating the rights of the very workers they claim to represent,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “It is outrageous that union officials are resorting to this type of retaliation to ‘punish’ workers who chose to return to work in order to provide for themselves and their families.”

“The Foundation has successfully defended a number of Verizon workers in the New York area who were also threatened with sham trials and five-figure illegal fines, and we are eager to assist these and any other workers in defending their workplace rights,” added Mix.

In 2016, Foundation staff attorneys defended eleven Verizon workers from retaliation by CWA and IBEW union officials after the same April 2016 East Coast strike. Seven of the workers were fined up to $14,000 each for exercising their federally protected rights. The remaining four were threatened by union bosses with “union discipline” that would have resulted in similar fines. In all eleven cases, union officials were forced to settle with the workers with all of the illegal strike fines and threats rescinded.

3 Apr 2017

Federal Settlement Forces Union Officials to Refund $20,000 After Illegally Seizing Union Dues from Workers

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SPFPA union officials continued to collect dues over workers’ objections despite majority vote by employees that ended mandatory payments

Washington, DC (April 3, 2017) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, two Washington D.C. area workers have won a federal settlement from International Union of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) union officials. The settlement dictates that union officials pay back approximately $20,000 in illegally seized dues, with interest.

The two workers, Troy Golson and Yasir Maatoug, work as security guards in the Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington, D.C. In November 2015, employees in their company, Coastal International Security, won a deauthorization election against the SPFPA union. A deauthorization election can be called by employees to negate the forced-unionism clause that allows union bosses to have a worker fired for refusing to pay the union dues or fees.

After the successful deauthorization vote, more than 30 Coastal employees sent union officials a dues check-off revocation letter, which legally stops the collection of forced union dues from their paychecks. However, union officials ignored some of the letters and continued seizing dues from many employees’ paychecks, erroneously claiming workers could not stop payment except in a union-determined “window period.”

Under current National Labor Relations Board law, workers who win a deauthorization election have the right to halt automatic deductions from their paychecks immediately simply by sending the union a revocation letter.

The settlement also allows for other workers to receive refunds for illegally seized dues if they can show that they revoked their dues check-off following the deauthorization election in November of 2015. Furthermore, union officials must post and e-mail a notice stating that they “will not collect dues from bargaining unit employees who have revoked their authorizations for payroll deduction of union dues or fees following the deauthorization of the union security clause.”

“This case epitomizes the lengths to which union officials will go to collect every last cent of forced dues they can, even in violation of longstanding law,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Even after a majority of the very workers the union claims to ‘represent’ voted to strip union officials of their forced dues powers, SPFPA union officials continued to illegally seize thousands of dollars in forced dues from them. This case shows why every worker in America should have Right to Work protections that ensure that union membership and payment of union fees are strictly voluntary.”

29 Mar 2017

Iowa Teacher Moves to Defend Union Bargaining Reform Law from Union Lawsuit

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National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys help Iowa teacher file Motion to Intervene in support of the recently passed reform legislation

Des Moines, IA (March 29, 2017) – With free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, a Waverly-area school teacher has filed a motion to intervene in the recently filed lawsuit attacking Iowa’s new government union reform law. Kevin Rohne, a public school special education teacher, seeks to intervene in the court case (AFSCME v. State of Iowa) to defend the law, which limits union monopoly bargaining powers and mandates regular recertification elections to determine if union officials are actually supported by the rank-and-file they claim to represent.

Mr. Rohne wishes to intervene to support the law because his rights are at stake as a public sector worker currently forced to accept government mandated union bargaining. Rohne opposes having government-imposed union “representation” and supports efforts to eliminate or reform monopoly bargaining powers granted to union officials under Iowa law.

The unions’ complaint asks the court to overturn the recently-enacted public sector union bargaining reform law. This law, which passed the Iowa legislature on February 16, is similar to Wisconsin’s Act 10 legislation which also instituted yearly renewal elections for most public sector unions and rolled back union monopoly bargaining powers.

Wisconsin’s Act 10 law faced multiple union legal challenges but was ultimately upheld in all of the cases. Moreover, the 2007 National Right to Work Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court case Davenport v. WEA reaffirmed the right of the states to pass laws limiting compulsory unionism powers granted to public sector union officials.

Rohne’s motion is particularly important at this time due to the fact that the state official charged with defending the law, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, has publicly refused to defend the law in court. Miller in the past has been supported by the same public sector unions that are affected by the new law.

“It is outrageous first, the Attorney General will not do his job and secondly, that AFSCME union officials reject the right and the authority of the Iowa legislature to reform the extraordinary monopoly bargaining powers that were previously granted to them by the legislature,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Public sector monopoly bargaining elevates the voice of a single organization speaking to the government over the voices of the tens of thousands of workers and taxpayers who elect the government. The Foundation will proudly continue to represent workers who seek to defend their rights against union boss-lawsuits, as it did in helping to defend Wisconsin’s Act 10.”

29 Mar 2017

Worker Files Brief in West Virginia Supreme Court Defending Right to Work Law

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The new brief was filed by a pro-Right to Work West Virginia worker and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation

Charleston, WV (March 29, 2017) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have filed an amicus curiae brief with the West Virginia Supreme Court in the case AFL-CIO v. Justice formerly (AFL-CIO v. Tomblin). The brief was filed Tuesday for the National Right to Work Foundation and Reginald Gibbs, an employee of the Greenbrier Hotel and Casino. Gibbs supports the state’s Right to Work Law and the protections it provides workers like him who, without Right to Work, could be fired for refusing to pay money to a union.

The brief responds to the legally dubious arguments that were presented by union lawyers, and accepted by Judge Jennifer Bailey of the Kanawha County Circuit Court. Similar arguments to the union lawyers’ primary arguments in this case for why the Right to Work protections for workers should be overturned have already been rejected by a Federal Court of Appeals and the Indiana Supreme Court when they were raised in cases involving Indiana’s Right to Work law. Furthermore, the Kanawha County Circuit Court decision unilaterally ignores nearly 70 years of legal precedent upholding the constitutionality of state Right to Work laws, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

After the Mountain State Right to Work law passed in February 2016, the National Right to Work Foundation offered free legal aid to any employees seeking to assert their rights under the new law. The Foundation also created a special task force to defend the West Virginia law in court from any Big Labor legal challenges. The task force filed an amicus brief in the case in Kanawha County Circuit Court, and moved for Gibbs’ intervention in the case.

“West Virginia’s popular new Right to Work law is a victory for workplace freedom, but union officials never relinquish their forced-dues privileges without a fight,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Rather than being accountable by offering workers honest services they are willing to voluntarily pay for, Big Labor continues to pursue lawsuits against the very workers they claim to “represent,” raising spurious legal claims in the hopes that a judge will ignore the nearly 70 years of precedent that upholds Right to Work protections.”

The National Right to Work Foundation has a long history of successfully defending Right to Work laws in state and federal court. In addition to West Virginia, Foundation staff attorneys have taken legal action to defend and enforce new Right to Work laws in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Missouri, all of which have passed Right to Work protections for employees since 2012.

27 Mar 2017

Walt Disney World Employees Win Ruling Against Teamsters Union for Illegally Blocking Workers from Resigning

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Teamsters Local 385 Union Officials Violated Federal Labor Law

Kissimmee, FL (March 27, 2017) – Eight Walt Disney World and United Parcel Service (UPS) employees have won a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) case against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union Local 385 after union officials refused to accept their membership resignations and dues checkoff revocations, and continued to illegally deduct union dues.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, the workers each filed federal unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB in 2014 and 2015. The case was tried in late 2016 and National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys represented the workers at the hearing.

During 2014 and 2015, each of the eight workers attempted to formally resign from the union, revoke their dues checkoff authorization, and sought information from union officials on how to properly do so. In their unfair labor practice charges, the workers contended that union officials had violated the law by intentionally ignoring or delaying responses to attempts to resign and end dues payments.

The NLRB Administrative Law Judge who heard the case ordered Teamsters union officials to accept the workers’ resignations and reimburse them for the dues illegally collected, with interest. The Judge also ordered the union to distribute and post a notice to all bargaining unit employees informing them that Teamsters Local 385 union officials had broken federal labor law and spelling out the specific rights workers have under the law, including resigning without being forced to pay fees to the union. That right is protected by Florida’s Right to Work law.

Teamsters Local 385 has a history of stonewalling workers’ attempts to resign union membership and stop unwanted union dues deductions. In 2014 alone, it was hit with three separate federal unfair labor practice charges by abused workers.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix commented, “It is outrageous that this union local has repeatedly violated workers’ rights. All too often, we see that even in Right to Work states like Florida, workers are not free from union boss’ schemes to trap them into an unwanted union. Although we are pleased with the judge’s ruling, it should never be this hard for workers to exercise their fundamental Right to Work without paying dues or fees to a union official.”

24 Mar 2017

Missouri Judge Strikes Down Ballot Language of 10 Union Boss Anti-Right to Work Amendments

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Ballot language rejected as “unfair and insufficient” was authorized as an eleventh-hour political kickback by former MO Secretary of State

St. Louis, MO (March 24, 2017) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix released the following statement regarding the Cole County, Missouri, Circuit Court’s decision in the case Hill v. Ashcroft:

“This ruling is an important step in defending Missouri’s recently-passed Right to Work protections for workers. Show Me State citizens overwhelmingly oppose giving union officials the power to have a worker fired solely for refusing to pay union dues or fees, which is why Big Labor is trying to be intentionally deceptive about their efforts to overturn the state’s new Right to Work law.”

In the case a group of Missouri citizens, with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, challenged misleading ballot language put forth by union officials designed to overturn the state Right to Work law.

23 Mar 2017

AZ Fry’s Grocery Employees Win Federal Court Decision Overturning NLRB Ruling on Dues Deductions during Strike

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DC Circuit reverses NLRB ruling that allowed Arizona union bosses to deduct dues from non-member workers who revoked their deduction authorizations

Washington, DC (March 23, 2017) – Seven Phoenix-area Fry’s Food Stores employees have won a federal court decision in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals after United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 99 union and company officials refused to honor their legal right to refrain from union dues payments.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Shirley Jones of Mesa; Karen Medley and Elaine Brown of Apache Junction; Kimberly Stewart and Saloomeh Hardy of Queen Creek; and Tommy and Janette Fuentes of Florence – acting for almost 800 similarly situated employees – filed federal unfair labor practice charges in December 2009 that spurred the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to investigate and issue a statewide complaint against Fry’s Foods and UFCW Local 99 union officials.

In the midst of a well-publicized UFCW Local 99 union boss-ordered strike in November 2009, the employees and almost 800 of their co-workers resigned their UFCW union memberships and revoked their dues deduction authorizations – documents used by union officials to automatically withhold dues from employee paychecks – while the UFCW union did not have a monopoly bargaining contract in effect at their workplaces. The workers’ charges argued that, despite the employees’ efforts to halt the dues seizures, Fry’s officials illegally continued to deduct dues from their paychecks, and UFCW union officials illegally continued to accept the seized monies.

Under Arizona’s popular Right to Work law, no worker can be required to join or pay any money to a union. Further, the National Labor Relations Act provides that dues deduction authorizations cannot be irrevocable “beyond the termination date of the applicable collective bargaining agreement.”

After a long investigation, the Phoenix NLRB regional director issued a formal complaint against UFCW Local 99 union officials for enforcing illegal dues deduction authorizations that do not allow employees to revoke them during contract hiatus periods, contrary to federal law. However, an NLRB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) ruled for the union officials and rubberstamped the scheme.

The NLRB originally affirmed the ALJ’s ruling, but that decision was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Noel Canning that the Board lacked a valid quorum after President Obama’s unconstitutional 2012 NLRB “recess appointments.” After Noel Canning, a Senate-confirmed NLRB issued another ruling backing the ALJ’s decision, and exonerating Fry’s Foods and Local 99 union bosses. National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys then appealed the case to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals handed down its decision on March 21, vacating the NLRB ruling. All three judges rejected the NLRB lawyer’s arguments. Two judges sent the case back to the NLRB for a new decision because the Board did not explain how its decision could be squared with Board precedent that workers must have at least one opportunity to revoke their dues deduction authorizations when a contract expires. Judge Silberman dissented, arguing that the NLRB ruling should be reversed without a remand, because the “Board has engaged in a blatant attempt to rewrite a statute in which Congress spoke plainly” that employees have “a right to revoke at will upon termination of an agreement.”

“These workers have waited the better part of a decade for justice after UFCW bosses refused to respect their legal rights to resign from the union and stop payment of all dues during a union-instigated work stoppage,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “While it has taken a long time, this ruling is a step towards vindicating the hundreds of employees victimized first by UFCW union officials, then by an Obama NLRB that rubberstamped those abuses.”