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FOUNDATION ACTION: Union Bosses Caught Diverting Charitable Donations to Union Coffers

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.


BUSTED: Union Bosses Caught Diverting Charitable Donations to Union Coffers

Union scheme may have stiffed several charities, including the NYC Firefighters' Burn Foundation 

NEW YORK, NY - With the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a Long Island teacher has won a favorable ruling against two unions at the New York State Supreme Court. Maureen Stavrakoglou originally filed suit against the two unions for refusing to tell her what they did with union dues that were supposed to have been redirected to charities.

Stavrakoglou is employed by the Brentwood School District, which requires all teachers to pay dues to the Brentwood Teachers Association (BTA) union and its state affiliate, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) union, as a condition of employment. Because New York lacks a Right to Work law, nonunion employees throughout the state can be forced to pay union dues to get or keep a job. However, teachers with sincere religious objections to supporting a union are entitled to request that their union dues be redirected to a mutually agreed upon charity.

After Stavrakoglou made known her objections to the NYSUT union’s ideological activities, the BTA and NYSUT unions entered into an agreement in 2005 that was to have all of her NYSUT dues redirected to charity. Stavrakoglou then asked union officials to redirect her dues for 2007-2008 to the Make a Wish Foundation. The BTA’s president assured Stavrakoglou that the dues would be sent to the charity she designated.

Unscrupulous union officials kept dues earmarked for charity

After coming to an agreement with the unions, Stavrakoglou subsequently designated a new charity each year as the recipient of her union dues. However, two of the charities she chose – The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation – have no record of ever receiving a donation from the union under Stavrakoglou’s name. A third charity, The NYC Firefighters’ Burn Foundation, only received Stavrakoglou’s donation after she called union officials to inquire about the status of her dues. The donation was made over half a year after it was supposed to have been done.

“Maureen Stavrakoglou took union officials at their word, and they repaid that trust by deceiving her about where her union dues were going,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Their outrageous actions prevented Stavrakoglou from contributing her dues to several worthy charities.” 

Teacher wins ruling that safeguards her beliefs

Last August, Stavrakoglou filed a lawsuit seeking an account of how her union dues were spent and the immediate payment of any illegally-confiscated dues to the charities she designated. Although they admitted to failing to donate Stavrakoglou’s dues to several of the designated charities, union lawyers filed a motion to dismiss, promising that the unions would no longer keep any dues earmarked for charitable donations.

Fortunately for Stavrakoglou, the New York Supreme Court ruled that the union must provide evidence that her dues were sent to charitable organizations, and ordered the union to hold Stavrakoglou’s dues in escrow until such proof is established.

“We’re happy to report that Mrs. Stavrakoglou has received a favorable ruling and will finally have her religious beliefs respected,” continued Semmens. “However, teachers shouldn’t have to jump through a series of bureaucratic and legal hoops to stop paying dues to an organization they’d rather not join or support. They also shouldn’t have to trust unaccountable union officials not to mispend a chunk of their hard-earned paychecks. Instead, New York should enact a Right to Work law, which would make union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary and end this type of abuse once and for all.”

 

Worker Files Federal Charges against NBC Sports, CWA for Forcing Him to Join Union, Pay Full Dues

News Release

Worker Files Federal Charges against NBC Sports, CWA for Forcing Him to Join Union, Pay Full Dues

Case shows why West Virginia's workers need Right to Work protections

New York, NY (March 11, 2013) – With the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, an NBC Sports technician has filed federal charges against his employer and the NABET-CWA Local 11 union for forcing him to join the union and pay full dues.

Over the past six months, Steve Wahlenmayer has worked as a daily hire for NBC Sports, which is party to a bargaining agreement with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union. Because New York lacks a Right to Work law, regular employees can be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment after 30 consecutive days of employment. This means temporary or daily hires cannot be required to pay union dues if they don't reach the 30-day threshold.

Despite the fact that Wahlenmayer has never worked for NBC for 30 consecutive days, CWA officials and NBC Sports demanded he join the union and sign a dues check-off card authorizing the CWA to deduct automatically dues from his paycheck and to pay a $9,000 initiation fee. Other temporary hires at NBC Sports have faced similar demands.

Click here to read the full release.

Worker Advocate Asks Federal Labor Board to Uphold Precedent Disallowing Forced Unionization of Grad Students

News Release

Worker Advocate Asks Federal Labor Board to Uphold Precedent Disallowing Forced Unionization of Grad Students

Foundation files brief supporting university teaching assistants’ and graduate students’ First Amendment freedom of association

Washington, DC (July 24, 2012) – The National Right to Work Foundation has filed a brief with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) asking the Board to uphold its own precedent that disallows union officials from corralling university graduate students into unwanted union affiliation.

Foundation staff attorneys filed the amicus curiae brief with the NLRB in a case involving United Autoworkers (UAW) union organizers' attempts to unionize graduate students at New York University and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and ultimately force them to pay union dues.

Foundation attorneys argue that universities do not fit the self-styled industrial model of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) – the federal law governing private-sector labor relations for non-managerial workers – a conclusion of the U.S. Supreme Court in NLRB v. Yeshiva University (1980).

Click here to read the full release.

School Bus Drivers Slam the Brakes on Shoddy Federal Settlement in Teamster Union Disclosure Case

News Release

School Bus Drivers Slam the Brakes on Shoddy Federal Settlement in Teamster Union Disclosure Case

Labor Board settlement lets scofflaw Teamster union off the hook

Long Island, NY (July 6, 2012) – A group of Lindenhurst, New York, school bus drivers have appealed a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office’s proposed settlement of a federal charge filed against a local Teamster union.

With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, a Baumann & Sons Bus Company driver filed the charge for herself and at least four of her coworkers in late 2011 with the NLRB regional office in Brooklyn, after Teamsters Local Union 1205 officials refused to provide the workers with adequate information about the union's financial expenditures as federal law requires.

The workers exercised their right to refrain from formal, full dues-paying union membership upheld under a National Right to Work Foundation-won precedent in the Supreme Court case Communication Workers v. Beck.

Click here to read the full release.

Unionized Probation Officers Win Refunds in Federal Suit over Free Speech Rights

News Release

Unionized Probation Officers Win Refunds in Federal Suit over Free Speech Rights

New York public employees desperately need Right to Work protections

Rochester, NY (April 24, 2012) – Four Monroe County probation officers have won relief in their protracted federal legal battle against two government unions for violating their First Amendment rights.

The four officers, led by David Scheffer, filed the suit with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys.

The probation officers sued Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) union and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union for deliberately violating their First Amendment rights by seizing forced union dues from their paychecks for illegal union expenditures. The officers charged that union officials were spending their forced dues on union organizing drives, despite the officers' objections.

Read the entire release here.

NYC Marriott Officials Face Additional Charges for Silencing Employees Opposed to Backroom Deal

The saga continues, as New York City Marriott officials are facing additional federal charges for trying to force workers to accept local union officials' unwanted "representation" and with it, the obligation of forced dues payments.

Last month, a group of SoHo Marriott workers targeted in a vicious campaign of intimidation and harassment by union organizers and company officials filed federal charges against Marriott and the union with free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation.

New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council Local 6 union organizers entered into a backroom deal (called a "neutrality agreement") with company officials. Of course, there is nothing "neutral" about the agreement, which allows union organizers unfettered access to the employees in order to install a union in the workplace while workers who wish to refrain from union affiliation are silenced with threats and punishment.

For example, Marriott worker Coralina Alcantara (who filed the latest around of charges against Marriott last week) and many of her colleagues are prohibited from meeting in the employee break room. Meanwhile, the company's lawyer has been interrogating Coralina and her colleagues and threatening them for wishing to remain free from union boss shackles.

It should come to no surprise that the workers are now unanimously opposed to the union officials' presence in the workplace. The same union officials have used video cameras in employee changing rooms, accessed employee lockers, handled employees' personal possessions, and resorted to verbal abuse against workers. One union official even took photographs of a female employee without her consent while she was changing her uniform in an employee changing room. As reported in the New York Post last month:

Workers at a downtown hotel charge that union goons resorted to outrageous tactics to browbeat them into joining their ranks — going so far as to photograph a female staffer as she changed clothes in an employee locker room, apparently to blackmail her.

"I was wearing my uniform pants and my bra and holding my shirt to put it on when they started snapping pictures," front-desk worker Gisel Rodriguez, 28, recalled of the alleged sneak attack at the SoHo Courtyard Marriott in December.

"I was furious, really didn't know what to do," she said. "They said, 'We're allowed to be here,' and clicked away."

Rodriguez said she believes the union reps wanted to use the photos "as blackmail, to get us to sign."

News Release: Hotel Officials, Union Bosses Hit With Multiple Federal Labor Board Charges for Abusive Organizing Tactics

News Release

Hotel Officials, Union Bosses Hit With Multiple Federal Labor Board Charges for Abusive Organizing Tactics

Union organizers verbally abuse Marriott employees and spy on workers in changing rooms after striking backroom deal with company officials

New York, NY (January 24, 2012) – A group of New York City Marriott (NYSE: MAR) employees – acting on behalf of their coworkers – have filed federal charges against the company and a local union for workplace intimidation and harassment.

The three SoHo Marriott employees filed the charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys.

New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council Local 6 union organizers entered into a backroom deal with company officials that allows union organizers unfettered access to the employees in order to install a union in the workplace.

Abusing this privilege, union organizers are attempting to browbeat the workers into supporting the union through a prolonged campaign of intimidation and harassment. Meanwhile, company officials deny workers' attempts to meet on company grounds.

Union officials have used video cameras in employee changing rooms, accessed employee lockers and handled employees' personal possessions, and have even resorted to verbal abuse. Union officials even took photographs of a female employee without her consent while she was changing her uniform in an employee changing room.

Read the entire release here.


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