Big Labor 

Know Your Rights: Michigan's Right to Work Law

In December 2012, Michigan became the nation's 24th state to pass Right to Work protections for its workers. On March 28, 2013, Michigan's private sector and public sector Right to Work laws went into effect and Michigan workers finally have Right to Work protections.

If you are a private sector worker in Michigan and you want to know more about your rights under Michigan's new Right to Work law, click here.  If you are a public sector worker, click here.

Recent media reports suggest that union bosses are attempting to skirt Michigan's Right to Work law any way they can.  The Wall Street Journal even reported that a Michigan teacher union boss sent out a memo stating union officials should consider suing union members who exercise their Right to Work and refrain from union membership and dues payments.

Fortunately, the National Right to Work Foundation has of a special task force committed to defending Michigan workers who seek to exercise their rights under the state's newly-enacted Right to Work law.  If you, or someone you know, needs legal assistance, please contact the National Right to Work Foundation by calling toll free 1-800-336-3600 or by clicking here.

West Virginia Utility Worker Wins $10,000 Settlements from Penn Line Service, Local Laborer Union

News Release

West Virginia Utility Worker Wins $10,000 Settlements from Penn Line Service, Local Laborer Union

Worker discharged from job for not contributing to "voluntary" union PAC

Beckley, WV (May 31, 2013) – A former Penn Service Line, Inc. truck driver/laborer has won a substantial federal settlement from a Pennsylvania-based construction company and a West Virginia union after the company and union violated his rights and illegally seized union dues from his paychecks for the union's political action committee (PAC).

Jeff Richmond of Meadow Bridge, WV, received free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

In July 2012, when Penn Line Service hired Richmond, company management told him that the job was a "union job." Between July and October, the company confiscated, and the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 453 accepted, full union dues from Richmond's paychecks even though he had not joined the union or consented to union dues payments.

In October 2012, company management gave Richmond and his coworkers a union membership and dues deductions authorization form. The form included a section for the employees to authorize "voluntary" contributions to three LIUNA-affiliated political action committees. Richmond signed up for union membership because he thought it was required for him to keep his job. Richmond did not, however, authorize the "voluntary" PAC contributions. Shortly thereafter, Richmond was discharged from his job for refusing to sign up for the union PAC contributions.

Click here to read the full release.

Nurse Union Faces Federal Suit for Selling out Workers

News Release

Nurse Union Faces Federal Suit for Selling out Workers

Union organizers’ intimidation sways outcome of unionization election

Massillon, OH (May 14, 2013) – Four local nurses have filed a federal lawsuit against the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) union for violating its duty of fair representation by striking a backroom deal with company management in exchange for its assistance with unionizing its nurses.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Affinity Medical Center nurses Cinda Keener, Susan Kelley, Ryan Chizmadia, and Katherine Manfull filed the lawsuit with the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division in Akron.

NNOC union organizers and Community Health Systems (CHS) management entered into a "neutrality agreement" designed to help the union organizers impose monopoly bargaining on all the nurses at Affinity and at least two other CHS hospitals. In the agreement, union organizers were given preferential access to the facility and conducted a "quicksnap" unionization election.

Click here to read the full release.

FOUNDATION ACTION: Foundation Legal Director Warns Congress of NLRB's Big Labor Bias

NOTE: This article is from the March-April issue of Foundation Action, our bi-monthly newsletter. You can sign up to receive a print edition of the newsletter here.  


Foundation Legal Director Warns Congress of NLRB's Big Labor Bias

Testimony highlights Board's indifference to individual workers' rights

WASHINGTON, DC - On February 13, Ray LaJeunesse, Vice President and Legal Director of the National Right to Work Foundation, testified before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce about the need to more vigorously enforce employees’ rights to refrain from funding union politics.

LaJeunesse, who has over 40 years of experience on the Foundation’s legal staff and has argued four cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, repeatedly criticized the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for its lax enforcement of the rights of workers who wish to refrain from union affiliation. Under the Foundation-won Supreme Court precedent Communication Workers v. Beck, private sector employees have the right to refrain from paying for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as members-only events and union political activism. However, the Obama-era NLRB has shown little interest in helping employees assert their rights to opt out of paying for union politics.

NLRB throws up bureaucratic hurdles to employee rights

LaJeunesse pointed out that the Board has permitted union officials to install a number of bureaucratic hurdles that discourage independent-minded employees from asserting their Beck rights. LaJeunesse noted that many unions now require employees to annually renew their objections to union political spending during a designated “window period,” a practice that allows union officials to continue extracting full dues from nonunion employees if they miss an arbitrary filing deadline.

Moreover, the Board has recently held that nonunion employees can be charged for organizing activities and political lobbying for “goals that are germane to collective bargaining.” LaJeunesse noted that this elastic interpretation of the Supreme Court’s Beck standard undermines the ability of nonunion employees to refrain from funding ideological and organizing activities they may disagree with.

“In sum, the problem is systemic,” concluded LaJeunesse. “The Board has dismally failed to protect workers’ Beck rights. Indeed, the current Board seems bent on totally eviscerating those rights.”

Obama Appointees Kowtow to Big Labor

Unfortunately, the Board – a supposedly neutral arbiter of American labor law – has been stacked with pro-Big Labor appointees throughout the Obama Administration. Former NLRB Member Craig Becker actually worked for the SEIU and AFL-CIO before joining the Board and ruling on cases he was involved with as a union lawyer. Current NLRB Member Michael Griffin also worked as a union lawyer before joining the Board.

“As our Legal Director noted in his testimony before Congress, the Board has shown a total disregard for the rights of independent-minded employees,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “We hope this will serve as a wake-up call to citizens concerned about the Board’s pro-forced unionism bias.”

 

FOUNDATION ACTION: Union Officials Hit with Lawsuit for Violating Utah's Right to Work Law

NOTE: This article is from the March-April issue of Foundation Action, our bi-monthly newsletter. You can sign up to receive a print edition of the newsletter here.


Union Officials Hit with Lawsuit for Violating Utah's Right to Work Law

Workers sue company and union for illegally seizing nearly twelve thousand dollars in union dues

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - In Utah, four railroad car repairmen have filed a lawsuit contending that their employer and a local union violated their rights under Utah’s popular Right to Work law and illegally coerced them into paying thousands of dollars in union dues.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the four workers – Bryan Rees, James Rogers, Richard Simone, and Jason Wilson – sued Progress Rail, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen/International Association of Machinists (IAM) Local 6601 union in the Third Judicial District Court in Salt Lake County.

Union boss contract violates Utah’s Right to Work law

Utah’s popular Right to Work law, enacted in 1955, gives workers the unconditional right to refrain from union membership and dues payments.  Despite the Right to Work law, IAM Local 6601 union brass negotiated a contract with Progress Rail in May 2006 that contained an illegal forced dues clause that requires all covered employees, including nonmembers, to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. 

All four workers allege in the suit that when they started working at Progress Rail at various dates between December 2005 and August 2011, union officials informed them that union membership and full dues payments were a condition of their employment. 

And as a result, union officials confiscated up to $12,000 in illegal union dues payments from the workers’ paychecks until October 2012, about two months after the workers found out about their rights under Utah’s Right to Work law.

The four workers are asking the court to bar the company and the union from enforcing the illegal forced dues clause in the contract and to order a refund of the illegally-seized union dues.

Case highlights national importance of Right to Work laws

“For years, IAM Local 6601 union bosses kept workers in the dark about their rights and took thousands of dollars of their hard-earned money in violation of Utah’s popular Right to Work law,” Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation, told the Salt Lake Tribune. “The union’s careless disregard for these workers’ rights underscores the need for more states to pass Right to Work protections for their workers.”

Twenty-four states currently have Right to Work protections for employees. According to public polling, nearly 80 percent of Americans - and 80 percent of union members - support the Right to Work principle of voluntary unionism.

Moreover, Right to Work states consistently enjoy better economic performance than their forced unionism neighbors. Over the past decade, data collected by the Bureau of Economic Analysis reveal that Right to Work states   outperform forced unionism states in terms of private sector job creation.

Not only are more jobs created in Right to Work states, but employees’ paychecks also go farther. A recent study from University of Colorado economist Barry Poulson found that households in Right to Work states have nearly $4,300 more in purchasing power than families in forced unionism states. 

“Not only do Right to Work laws boost economic growth and create jobs, they also strike at the very heart of Big Labor’s government-granted power to compel workers to pay dues just to get or keep a job,” said Mix.  “And the lawsuit in Utah goes to show just how important Right to Work protections are for workers who want nothing to do with forced-dues hungry union officials.”

 

Union, Company Face Federal Prosecution after Construction Worker Digs Up Illegal PAC Scheme

News Release

Union, Company Face Federal Prosecution after Construction Worker Digs Up Illegal PAC Scheme

Worker discharged from job for not contributing to "voluntary" union PAC

Beckley, WV (April 22, 2013) – A Pennsylvania construction company and a local union are facing a federal prosecution for violating the rights of a former truck driver/laborer and illegally seizing union dues from workers' paychecks for the union's political action committee (PAC).

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Jeff Richmond of Meadow Bridge, WV, filed federal unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Penn Line Service, Inc. and the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 453.

In July 2012, when Penn Line Service hired Richmond, company management informed him that the job was a "union job." Between July and October, the company confiscated, and the LIUNA hierarchy accepted, full union dues from Richmond's paychecks even though he had not joined the union nor given prior authorization for the company to take full union dues from his paychecks.

Click here to read the full release.

Hostess Delivery Driver Wins $47,000 in Federal Case Challenging Teamster Union Boss Discrimination

News Release

Hostess Delivery Driver Wins $47,000 in Federal Case Challenging Teamster Union Boss Discrimination

Teamster union bosses sought to punish worker for refraining from union membership

Tulsa, OK (April 4, 2013) – An Interstate Bakeries Wonder Bread/Hostess delivery driver has won over $47,000 in back pay and reimbursement from a local Teamster union and the company in a union discrimination case that the union twice appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oklahoma worker Kirk Rammage received free assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation during his seven year legal battle challenging a local Teamster union's discriminatory policy.

Click here to read the full release.

FOUNDATION ACTION: Foundation Forms Task Force to Defend Michigan Right to Work Law

NOTE: This article is from the last issue of Foundation Action, our bi-monthly newsletter. You can sign up to receive a print edition of the newsletter here.


Foundation Forms Task Force to Defend Michigan Right to Work Law
Union officials plan to challenge law making union membership and dues payments voluntary
SPRINGFIELD, VA -– In December 2012, Michigan stunned political prognosticators by becoming the nation’s 24th state to pass Right to Work protections for its workers. And

as Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed private sector and public sector Right to Work legislation into law, union officials and others had already announced their plans to file frivolous lawsuits designed to delay implementation of and hamstring the legislation in court.

Responding to these tactics, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation immediately announced the creation of a special task force to defend Michigan’s newly-enacted Right to Work law.

“"Michigan’'s new Right to Work laws are a great advance for worker freedom, but union bosses won’t give up their special privileges without a fight,"” said Ray LaJeunesse, Vice President and Legal Director of the National Right to Work Foundation. "“Big Labor is already planning a vicious legal counterattack in state and federal court, which is why we need to be ready.”"

Just as Foundation Action went to press, to preempt union lawyers from getting an injunction from a friendly state court judge, Governor Snyder asked Michigan’s Supreme Court to render an advisory opinion on the constitutionality of the state’s new Right to Work laws. Foundation attorneys are preparing to file an amicus brief in that case for Michigan workers supporting the laws’ constitutionality.


Foundation attorneys ready to defend Right to Work

Fortunately for Michigan workers, Foundation attorneys have successfully defended several state Right to Work laws in the past.

Shortly after Indiana became the nation’s 23rd Right to Work state, United Steel Worker (USW) union bosses filed a lawsuit challenging the bill’s legality in state court.

Right to Work attorneys quickly responded by filing a brief opposing the union’s lawsuit for two workers who are employed at facilities unionized by USW operatives and are forced to pay union dues just to keep their jobs. Foundation attorneys attended oral argument on a motion to dismiss on October 16 and sent local counsel to a hearing in late January.


Cases highlight success of Foundation legal program

Moreover, Foundation attorneys defended Wisconsin’s recently-enacted public sector union reforms (including Right to Work protections for most Wisconsin public employees) in a federal appeals court (see page 3 of this issue of Foundation Action) for three Wisconsin civil servants. Foundation attorneys are also assisting three other Wisconsin public employees defending the reforms in two other cases, one pending in federal court, and another at the state’s appeals court.

Recent public polling reveals that a majority of Michiganders support the new Right to Work laws. Despite losing in the court of public opinion, Michigan union bosses are undeterred. Big Labor is predictably turning to the court system to delay or even roll back the state’s popular Right to Work laws in an effort to reclaim their force-dues powers.

"“Despite union lawyers’' attempts to strike down Right to Work laws wherever they are passed, their track record against our experienced Right to Work staff attorneys is far from stellar,”" explained LaJeunesse. “"But union bosses know all it takes is one friendly judge to temporarily block any restraint on their special government-granted power to compel workers to pay dues as a condition of employment."
”

"“That is why Foundation attorneys are are already preparing to defend Michigan’s new Right to Work laws from any frivolous union boss legal challenges,"” added LaJeunesse. “"Thanks to Foundation cases expanding worker freedom in state and federal court -- including numerous Supreme Court wins -- we’re confident of victory.”"

DC Appeals Court Orders NLRB to Respond to Foundation Petition

Earlier this month, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit asking the court to order the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to suspend further action in a case that expanded union bosses' powers to charge nonmember workers for union political lobbying.

The petition was filed after the Board held that a union hierarchy could force nurses in Rhode Island to pay for union bosses' political lobbying, including lobbying in the state of Vermont.

Foundation attorneys filed the petition after the court ruled in January that President Barack Obama's controversial purported "recess appointments" to the Board are unconstitutional. The court held President Obama could not constitutionality make those appointments without U.S. Senate confirmation because the Senate was not in recess.

Today, the court ordered the NLRB to respond to the Foundation's petition within 30 days, and then allows Foundation attorneys to respond within 15 days after the NLRB responds.

The demand for briefing on the petition suggests the court's willingness to grant the writ of prohibition that would order the NLRB to cease and desist action on the Geary case. Stay tuned.

Right to Work Legal Director Testifies Before Congress on NLRB's Pro-Forced Unionism Agenda

Today, National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Ray LaJeunesse testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. LaJeunesse explained how the National Labor Relations Board has allowed union bosses to erect bureaucratic hurdles that discourage independent workers from asserting their rights. A copy of LaJeunesse's testimony can be found here.

Regular Freedom@Work readers are undoubtedly familiar with the Obama NLRB's pro-forced unionism bias. For more on the Board's troubling agenda, click here


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