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. 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.”

21 Mar 2017

National Right to Work Foundation Files Brief in Defense of Pennsylvania Homecare Providers

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Yesterday the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed an amicus curiae brief in the case David Smith & Donald Lambrecht v. Wolf currently before the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court. The brief is filed in support of homecare providers challenging an executive order signed by Gov. Wolf forcing providers across the state into union monopoly bargaining ranks.

The brief argues that Gov. Wolf exceeded his executive powers by creating, by fiat, a new forced unionism mandatory bargaining system for homecare providers in Pennsylvania. The brief explains that Gov. Wolf’s executive order is illegal and beyond the Governor’s authority because, among other reasons, the Pennsylvania Public Employee Relations Act (PERA) establishes the parameters of permissible bargaining with regards to the Commonwealth.

The executive order in question, 2015-05, is nearly identical to a 2010 executive order by former Gov. Rendell that was rescinded after a court challenge. Both executive orders sought unilaterally to force an entire class of private employee which is paid in part through Medicaid type programs into a forced unionism situation by mandating a monopoly bargaining “representative.”

To view a copy of the brief please click here.

21 Mar 2017

Worker Advocate Files Brief with Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Defense of Wisconsin Right to Work Law

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National Right to Work Foundation brief responds to Big Labor attempt to overturn longstanding Right to Work protections against forced union fees

Chicago, IL (March 21, 2017) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have filed a legal brief for six Wisconsin workers with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in defense of Wisconsin’s Right to Work law. The brief was filed after union lawyers appealed a district court judge’s decision to dismiss a challenge by union officials to Wisconsin’s Right to Work law.

Union officials have asked that the lawsuit be heard before an en banc panel of Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judges because a three judge panel on the same appeals court previously upheld Right to Work laws as constitutional in 2015 in a similar union boss challenge to Indiana’s Right to Work law. The attempt to have this en banc hearing is part of a nation-wide strategy by union officials to have Right to Work protections for workers struck down.

Union lawyers are claiming that Right to Work laws, which simply allow an individual to work without being forced to pay dues or fees to a union boss, should be overturned. First, union lawyers claim that they are constitutionally entitled to a portion of each worker’s paycheck. Second, union lawyers argue that despite decades of precedents to the contrary, section 14 (b) of the Taft-Hartley Act, which gives individual states the ability to pass Right to Work laws, was never intended to allow workers to stop paying union fees and should be completely reinterpreted.

Foundation staff attorneys argue in the workers’ brief that union bosses do not have a ‘constitutional right’ to a worker’s paycheck and that Section 14 (b) of the Taft-Hartley Act has been correctly interpreted for the past 70 years to allow states to pass Right to Work laws that prohibit any requirement that workers pay union fees as a condition of their employment. The brief further argues, to the extent that U.S. labor laws create a “taking” it is union bosses using the forced unionism provisions in federal law to seize mandatory union fees from workers without Right to Work protections.

Additionally, Foundation staff attorneys point out that the National Labor Relations Act compensates unions by granting them immense workplace power to impose one-size-fits-all union contracts on all employees – union and nonunion alike – in union-controlled bargaining units.

Right to Work laws have withstood intense legal scrutiny for over 60 years, having never been struck down by a federal court or state appellate court. Foundation staff attorneys have also defended newly-enacted Right to Work laws in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia from various union legal challenges.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix commented, “It is outrageous that union officials are once again advancing this dubious legal theory that Right to Work protections that give workers choice over handing over a portion of their paycheck to a union somehow constitute an ‘illegal taking’ of union resources. Workers in non-Right to Work states are the ones having something taken from them. The Seventh Circuit should uphold Right to Work as constitutional as it did in 2015 and toss out this legal challenge.”

17 Mar 2017

In the News: Foundation Defends Uber & Lyft Drivers Against Seattle Forced Unionism Scheme

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On March 10th, a group of independent drivers gathered national media attention when they filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle, seeking to block the City Council bill instituting forced unionism on independent driver contractors. The drivers’ lawsuit argues that the Council bill is an infringement on their First Amendment rights as well as being preempted by the federal National Labor Relations Act.

These drivers are being represented by staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Freedom Foundation. Below is a selection of media coverage about the Foundation’s efforts to protect the individual liberty of all the ride-sharing workers. To read the full article please click on the hyperlinked title of each publication. To read the Foundation’s press release about the lawsuit please click here.

Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal

Law 360 – Eleven independent drivers sued the city of Seattle in federal court Friday claiming its new ordinance allowing for-hire drivers for Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing apps to unionize is unconstitutional and unfairly forces all drivers to comply with terms set by designated unions just to use the app.

Seattle Times – In a federal lawsuit, the drivers are seeking a temporary restraining order barring the city from enforcing the law — the first of its kind in the country — saying it goes against federal labor and privacy laws, as well as violates their rights to free speech and association.

Wall Street Journal –Seattle also is a crucial test case for millions of so-called gig economy workers who make deliveries, run errands and perform other freelance tasks as contractors. Uber and startups like delivery company Postmates Inc. and errands service TaskRabbit Inc. have withstood pressure to treat their contract workers as employees, thereby avoiding payment of full benefits or compensation for expenses like gasoline.

Reuters – The 11 drivers, represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, said in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle on Friday that the city’s law violates their rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by forcing them to join a union in order to work, and is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act.

KIRO TV – “It’s freedom, it’s the way of life these days if you want to be entrepreneur and own your own business. Be your own boss, manage your own life,” said driver Tianna Williamson.

Forbes – The Seattle ordinance also raises fundamental questions about the nature of work and employment, and the fairness of labor laws forged in the industrial era when they are applied to gig-economy workers.

17 Mar 2017

Indiana Worker Hits Union Bosses with Federal Unfair Labor Practice Charges for Refusing to Follow the Law

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Union Officials Seize Union Dues Despite Worker’s Resignation

Indianapolis, IN (March 17, 2017) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, an Indiana worker has filed federal unfair labor practice (ULP) charges against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union Local 135 for continuing to deduct dues from his paycheck despite his resignation from formal union membership and revocation of his dues check-off authorization.

The worker, Allen Sizemore, works at Builders First Source in the lumberyard. In December 2016, Sizemore resigned his formal union membership and revoked his dues check-off authorization within the “window period” permitted by the union. In spite of this, Teamsters union bosses continue to accept dues deducted from Sizemore’s paycheck in clear violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Recently, the same union, IBT Local 135, was hit with federal charges for a similar action against another worker, Daryl Mitchell, also at Builders First Source. Indiana’s Right to Work law clearly provides that a worker has the right to resign and stop paying forced dues to a labor union, as does the NLRA in Right to Work states.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix commented, “It is maddening that Indiana union officials continue to illegally seize forced dues from a hard-working Hoosier they claim to ‘represent.’ No worker should be forced to jump through all these hoops just to exercise their rights under the law.”

Indiana became the 23rd Right to Work state to end union officials’ power to have a worker fired solely for refusing to pay union dues or fees in early 2012. Since then Michigan (2012), Wisconsin (2015), West Virginia (2016), Kentucky (2017) and Missouri (2017) have joined the ranks of states with Right to Work protections.

13 Mar 2017

Foundation-Backed Worker Joins Battle to Defend West Virginia Right to Work Law

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Check out this article from the January/February 2017 newsletter. To read the full newsletter and to sign up for your free copy, please click here.

Greenbrier employee files Motion to Intervene to oppose forced unionism

Since its establishment in 1968, one of the most critical missions of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has been defending state Right to Work laws from the never ending Big Labor legal attacks. Inevitably, soon after a new Right to Work law is passed union officials sue with the intent of overturning, or at least delaying the worker freedom protections offered by Right to Work.

West Virginia, which passed the nation’s 26th Right to Work law in early 2016, is no exception. Even before the law took full effect, union lawyers for the AFL-CIO and a coalition of other unions initiated a challenge to the law in state court.

In early December, Foundation staff attorneys moved to intervene in the case on behalf of Reginald Gibbs, asking the circuit court that Gibbs be made a party to the case so he can defend his rights under the Right to Work law. In his motion, Gibbs adopts the arguments made in two amicus briefs filed by the National Right to Work Foundation, arguing why the court should reject Big Labor’s attempt to overturn or delay the law.

Reginald Gibbs is a slot machine technician at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. As an employee of the Greenbrier, Gibbs is currently under a monopoly bargaining contract with a union forced dues clause, requiring him to pay dues or fees to the union or be fired.

The motion to intervene argues that if the law is overturned or blocked by a judicial order, Gibbs would continue to be forced to continue to pay dues and fees, despite his objections. Although the State of West Virginia is already defending the law in the case, the motion notes that Gibbs has special interests in defending his Right to Work as an employee affected by the law, which is distinct from the interests of the state whose duty is to defend the constitutionality of the law.

“Like clockwork, instead of accepting the decades of precedent upholding Right to Work protections, union officials are once again spending forced dues to attack worker freedom of choice in court,” said Ray LaJeunesse, Vice President and Legal Director for the Foundation. “We’re proud to offer assistance to Mr. Gibbs in defending the legal protections he stands to gain from West Virginia’s popular new Right to Work law.”

Gibbs further argues in his motion that as a worker currently employed under a compulsory unionism agreement, he will suffer direct harm if the law is overturned. The court will be considering the motion with the next hearing scheduled for early 2017.

West Virginia is not the only state where Foundation staff attorneys have responded to union boss legal attacks on Right to Work. Foundation staff attorneys have also filed briefs in similar cases in Federal Court in Idaho and Wisconsin, as well as in a Wisconsin State Court.

With the possibility of new Right to Work laws in Kentucky, Missouri and New Hampshire in 2017, the Foundation stands ready in 2017 to defend worker freedom in those states from the inevitable attacks by Big Labor operatives.