Union Politics 

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.

Worker Advocate Seeks to Halt Obama Labor Board from Acting in Union Lobbying Case

News Release

Worker Advocate Seeks to Halt Obama Labor Board from Acting in Union Lobbying Case

Labor Board moving to negate Supreme Court's restrictions on union bosses' power to force workers to pay for union politics

Washington, DC (February 11, 2013) – Today, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia 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 in the wake of the court's ruling last month invalidating President Barack Obama's controversial purported "recess appointments" to the Board. The court held President Obama could not constitutionality make those appointments without U.S. Senate confirmation because the Senate was not in recess. National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys filed an amicus curiae brief jointly with the Landmark Legal Foundation in the case.

As a result, since at least January 3, 2012, the Board has lacked a quorum as required by a U.S. Supreme Court precedent established in 2010, thus invalidating the Board's rulings since that time.

Click here to read the full release.

Ready-Mix Concrete Worker Seeks to Break Free of Teamster Union Dues Scheme

News Release

Ready-Mix Concrete Worker Seeks to Break Free of Teamster Union Dues Scheme

Teamsters refuse to follow federal disclosure requirements

Goshen, IN (August 15, 2012) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, an Eagle Ready Mix concrete worker has filed a federal charge against a local Teamster union for violating his rights.

Edward Chupp of Goshen filed the charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) earlier this month.

Chauffeurs, Teamsters and Helpers Local 364 union officials never informed workers of their rights, including their right to refrain from full-dues-paying union membership as upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck case.

Click here to read the full release.

"Big Labor, Big Spending"

Fox Business has a great report on union bosses' extravagant spending habits, including lavish junkets and visits to luxury resort hotels:

Besides the tens-of-millions of dollars big labor spent buying luxury resorts, country clubs or Learjets, labor unions are also spending millions of dollars in tax-free union funds on conferences at lavish hotels and resorts -- including junkets at resorts owned by the unions themselves . . .

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), run by Richard Trumka, is the largest umbrella federation of unions in the U.S., with 56 unions representing more than 12 million. Its officials have been living large at member expense.

AFL-CIO unions spent at least $2.6 million in union funds on junkets to nine conferences at places like the Flamingo Hotel or Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, including more than $1.7 million at the swanky union-ownedWestin Diplomat resort and golf club in Florida, from 2010 to 2011, government documents show . . .

Luxury getaways aren't the only thing Big Labor is buying, however. According to The Wall Street Journal, unions spent over 4.4 billion dollars on electioneering from 2005 to 2011, a figure that exceeds previous estimates (except for two studies by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research) by a factor of four:

The usual measure of unions' clout encompasses chiefly what they spend supporting federal candidates through their political-action committees, which are funded with voluntary contributions, and lobbying Washington, which is a cost borne by the unions' own coffers. These kinds of spending, which unions report to the Federal Election Commission and to Congress, totaled $1.1 billion from 2005 through 2011,according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

The unions' reports to the Labor Department capture an additional $3.3 billion that unions spent over thesame period on political activity.

The costs reported to the Labor Department range from polling fees, to money spent persuading union members to vote a certain way, to bratwursts to feed Wisconsin workers protesting at the state capitol last year. Much of this kind of spending comes not from members' contributions to a PAC but directly from unions' dues-funded coffers. There is no requirement that unions report all of this kind of spending to the Federal Election Commission, or FEC.

Much of this political cash is collected from nonunion workers forced to pay dues as a condition of employment. These employees aren't affiliated with unions and often disagree with their political agenda. Technically, union officials are supposed to allow nonunion employees to opt out of paying for union political spending, but - as recent Right to Work cases demonstrate - that requirement is often ignored or actively subverted.

Whether it's politics or luxury junkets, the only real solution to Big Labor's lavish spending is right to work laws, which make the payment of union dues strictly voluntary. The power to extract dues from unwilling workers has made union bosses unaccountable. If unions were solely dependent on voluntary contributions, they'd be much less likely to risk alienating their supporters with divisive political lobbying or lavish getaways for the higher-ups. 

WSJ: New Foundation-won Supreme Court Precedent Harbinger of More Pro-Worker Decisions?

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an illegal Service Employees International Union (SEIU) political fee charged to California state workers without notice and opportunity to opt out.

And now for the first time, the Court is requiring union officials to obtain affirmative consent from workers before they increase union dues and fees or slap workers with "special assessments" for union boss political spending.

Not only is this Foundation victory a victory for the First Amendment principles of free speech and free association, but Justice Samuel Alito acknowledged the tension the Court has created by allowing Big Labor to get away with so much for so long.

The very fact that a five-member majority of the U.S. Supreme Court openly questioned Big Labor's incredible power to force workers info forced-dues payments suggests Big Labor has overplayed its hand and the Court may be willing to hear more cases to reconsider some of its pro-Big Labor precedents and possibly even freeing workers from the shackles of forced unionism. Via the Wall Street Journal:

Writing for a five-member majority, however, Justice Samuel Alito raises larger questions about compulsory union dues and individual rights. Shouldn't the people who choose not to join a union, he asks, have to opt into political and ideological activities that they may presumably dispute—rather than opt out? "Which side should bear the risk?" he continues. "The answer is obvious: the side whose constitutional rights are not at stake."

Thus Knox may provide an opening to revisit some of the Court's precedents that force people to subsidize political views or escapades contrary to their values—not to mention the First Amendment. Stay tuned.

Teamster Union Faces Federal Charge For Illegally Using Forced Dues for Politics

News Release

Teamster Union Faces Federal Charge For Illegally Using Forced Dues for Politics

Union officials violate worker’s rights; case shows need for state Right to Work law

Minneapolis, MN (June 11, 2012) – With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a New Brighton Ford journeyman technician has filed a federal charge against a local Teamster union for violating his rights.

Dylan McHenry of Hammond, Wisconsin filed the charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office in Minneapolis against the Teamsters Local 974 union for illegally confiscating union dues payments from his paychecks for political activism and refusing to follow federal disclosure requirements.

Read the entire release here.

News Release: Public Employee Union Faces Federal Lawsuit for Illegal Forced Dues Scheme

News Release

Public Employee Union Faces Federal Lawsuit for Illegal Forced Dues Scheme

Right to Work Foundation attorneys challenge union hierarchy for violating employee's constitutional rights

San Francisco, CA (March 6, 2012) – An Alameda County East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) employee has filed a federal lawsuit against a local union and the public agency for violating his rights.

James C. Hankins filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco with free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation.

Hankins resigned formal union membership from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 444 more than ten years ago.

However, in April 2011, AFSCME Local 444 and EBMUD officials began to deduct full union dues from Hawkins’s paycheck as if he was a full union member.

Read the entire press release here.


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