Wisconsin 

FOUNDATION ACTION: Teacher Wins Settlement after Union Violated Her Constitutional Rights

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


Teacher Wins Settlement after Union Violated Her Constitutional Rights

Case demonstrates why Wisconsin reforms were need to protect state workers

GREENWOOD, WI - A former Greenwood, Wisconsin, teacher has won a settlement from a local teacher union and the school district for refusing to honor her constitutional rights and for failing to follow federal disclosure requirements.

Spanish teacher Amy Anaya taught in the School District of Greenwood for a year. When Anaya was first hired by the district in August 2011, Greenwood Education Association (GEA) union officials illegally told her that she “had to” sign the union’s membership form.  When GEA union officials demanded Anaya join the union, she told them that she had no desire to become a union member.

Anaya told Foundation Action that her initial reason for not wanting to join the union was its support of causes she opposed. “[The union] also defended teachers that should have been more concerned about improving themselves than moving up the pay scale and getting more benefits,” said Anaya.

Beginning on September 9, 2011, union officials began collecting full union dues, or $31.35, from each of Anaya’s paychecks anyway.  In December 2011, GEA union officials again demanded that Anaya join the union, and she again informed them that she was not interested in joining.

Union officials ignore worker protections

The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized that a public sector worker has a First Amendment right to refrain from formal union membership at any time. Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Foundation’s Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson case that union officials who collect union fees as a condition of employment must first provide nonmember public sector workers with an independently-audited financial breakdown of all forced-dues union expenditures and the opportunity to object and challenge the amount of forced union fees before an impartial decisionmaker.

And with passage of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s Act 10 public sector unionism reform in 2011, which contains a provision that gives most Wisconsin civil servants Right to Work protections, no Wisconsin teacher can be forced to pay any union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Union officials failed to provide Anaya with her U.S. Supreme Court-mandated constitutional protections and the school district deducted full union dues from her paychecks for the entire school year.  Moreover, the union brass negotiated a contract with the school district in an attempt to skirt Act 10’s provisions giving Greenwood teachers the Right to Work.

Complaint forces union officials to issue refund

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Anaya filed complaints against the school district and the union with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission in September 2012.  Union lawyers then agreed to a settlement with Anaya under which the union refunded the illegally seized dues to avoid further litigation and possible state prosecution.

“Teacher union bosses and school officials ignored state law and U.S. Supreme Court precedent to illegally coerce Amy Anaya into full dues-paying union ranks against her will,” said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work.  “This case teaches all of us a lesson about just how important Act 10 is in protecting Wisconsin public employees from forced unionism abuses.”

Wisconsin union bosses are still attacking Act 10 in various state and federal courts, but largely to no avail. 

In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit based in Chicago adopted arguments made by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys and upheld Act 10 as constitutional.  Meanwhile, Wisconsin civil servants continue to defend Act 10 in other cases pending before state and federal courts with free legal assistance from Foundation staff attorneys, including a case pending before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

“Union bosses can’t tolerate any restrictions on their power over workers,” stated Mix.  “And your National Right to Work Foundation continues to assist Wisconsin civil servants who are taking a stand against compulsory unionism in their workplaces.”

 

FOUNDATION ACTION: Indiana and Wisconsin Right to Work Protections Upheld in Federal Court

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


Indiana and Wisconsin Right to Work Protections Upheld in Federal Court

Foundation attorneys help thwart bogus union legal challenges to recent labor reforms  

Wisconsin teacher Kristi Lacroix successfully defended Wisconsin’s public sector Right to Work law with the help of Foundation staff attorneys. SPRINGFIELD, VA - In the span of two days, Foundation attorneys scored resounding victories defending Indiana’s newly-enacted Right to Work law and Wisconsin’s 2010 public sector Right to Work law in two federal courts.

The legal victories both highlight the need and the success of the Foundation’s litigation program.

Indiana union bosses soundly defeated in court

A United States District Court Judge dismissed a federal lawsuit challenging Indiana’s Right to Work law filed by International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 150 lawyers. IUOE Local 150, headquartered in suburban Chicago, filed the lawsuit to undo what thousands of Hoosier citizens worked hard to achieve through the legislative process immediately after the law was enacted last February.

Unfortunately for the IUOE, the constitutionality of state Right to Work laws has long been a settled question. And National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, representing four Indiana workers who support the Right to Work law, advised lawyers for the State of Indiana about arguments that were made to defend the law in court.

The four Hoosier citizens who opposed the union’s legal challenge were David Bercot, a certified wastewater operator for the ITR Concession Company in Fort Wayne; Joel Tibbetts, a Minteq International assistant manager in Valparaiso; Douglas Richards, an employee with the Goshen-based Cequent Towing Products; and Larry Getts, a Dana Holding Corporation technician in Albion.

Judge Philip Simon dismissed all of the union lawyers’ claims. He did not rule on arguments contesting the law on the grounds that it violates Indiana’s constitution, leaving that to state courts to decide. A United Steel Workers legal challenge based on state laws is still proceeding in Indiana state court, where two other Foundation-assisted employees have filed a brief arguing that the law is consistent with their state’s constitution.

“We’re happy to report that the judge rejected IUOE union bosses’ frivolous arguments and ensured that millions of Indianans will continue to work free from union coercion,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of National Right to Work.

Wisconsin public sector Right to Work law stands

A day after the Indiana victory, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit based in Chicago upheld all of Governor Scott Walker’s public sector unionism reform measures, also known as “Act 10.”

The court rejected union lawyers’ attempts to strike down the law’s annual union recertification requirements, ban on the use of taxpayer funded-payroll systems to collect union dues, new limits on the scope of what union officials can demand in contract negotiations, and a provision that granted most of Wisconsin’s public employees Right to Work protections.

With free legal assistance from Foundation and Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty attorneys, three Wisconsin public employees moved to intervene in the lawsuit in favor of the law after lawyers from seven unions, led by the Wisconsin Education Association Council, challenged it in federal court.

The three civil servants -- Kenosha teacher Kristi Lacroix, Waukesha high school teacher Nathan Berish, and trust fund specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds Ricardo Cruz -- were permitted to file amicus briefs in the district court and their Foundation attorney was allowed to argue on the merits of the law before the appeals court during a hearing.

“The appellate court upheld all of ‘Act 10’ as constitutional by relying on principles established in Foundation-supported Supreme Court victories. Those cases hold that union bosses have no constitutional power to force workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Unions also don’t have a constitutional right to use government resources to deduct union dues or fees from workers’ paychecks,” said Semmens.

“The court’s decision strikes a mighty blow for individual workers who do not want anything to do with an unwanted union in their workplace. The text of the decision makes it clear that legal arguments presented by Foundation staff attorneys were critical to the ruling.”

Teachers File Brief Defending Gov. Walker's 'Act 10' Reforms in Union's State Appeals Court Lawsuit

News Release

Teachers File Brief Defending Gov. Walker's 'Act 10' Reforms in Union's State Appeals Court Lawsuit

Teachers ask state court to uphold legislation protecting most state employees from forced unionism

Madison, WI (February 6, 2013) – Three Wisconsin public school teachers filed a brief in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals last week supporting Governor Walker's public sector union reform bill, known as "Act 10."

Elmbrook School District educator Elijah Grajkowski, Kenosha teacher Kristi Lacroix, and Waukesha high school teacher Nathan Berish filed the amici curiae brief with free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.

The case is a legal challenge brought in Dane County Circuit Court by union officials from Public Employees Local 61 and Madison Teachers, Inc., a local affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA).

Click here to read the full release.

Federal Court Upholds Wisconsin Governor's Public-Sector Unionism Reforms

News Release

Federal Court Upholds Wisconsin Governor's Public-Sector Unionism Reforms

Workers asked court to uphold reform measure protecting most Badger State public workers from forced unionism

Chicago, IL (January 18, 2013) – Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld all of Governor Scott Walker’s public-sector unionism reform measures, also known as "Act 10."

With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, three Wisconsin public employees moved to intervene in the lawsuit in favor of the law after lawyers from seven unions, led by the Wisconsin Education Association Council, challenged it in federal court. The three civil servants, Pleasant Prairie teacher Kristi Lacroix, Waukesha high school teacher Nathan Berish, and trust fund specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds Ricardo Cruz, were permitted to file amicus briefs in the district court.

Union lawyers sought to strike down the law’s annual union recertification requirements, ban on the use of taxpayer funded-payroll systems to collect union dues, new limits on the scope of what union officials can demand in contract negotiations, and a provision that granted most of Wisconsin’s public employees Right to Work protections.

Click here to read the full release.

Update: Wisconsin Civil Servants Defend Governor's Public-Sector Unionism Reforms in Federal Appeals Court

Monday, a National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney argued for three Wisconsin public employees who are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (located in Chicago) to uphold all of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's public-sector unionism reform measures, known as "Act 10."

The case is on appeal after a federal circuit court judge in Wisconsin struck down Wisconsin's new union recertification requirements and ban on the use of taxpayer funded-payroll systems to collect union dues from general employees' paychecks, and excluded the three workers from participating fully in the case.

With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, Pleasant Prairie teacher Kristi Lacroix, Waukesha high school teacher Nathan Berish, and trust fund specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds Ricardo Cruz filed a motion to intervene in the lower court. When their motion to intervene was denied, the employees appealed and were given a portion of the argument time in Monday's appeals court argument.

The three workers are asking the appellate court to uphold the law as a whole as constitutional especially the law's Right to Work protections -- relying on Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court precedents in which the Court held that union bosses have no constitutional right to collect fees from nonmembers and that unions have no constitutional right to use government resources to deduct dues from workers' paychecks.

Teacher Files State Complaints After Union Bosses Violate Act 10, U.S. Constitution

News Release

Teacher Files State Complaints After Union Bosses Violate Act 10, U.S. Constitution

Case shows why Act 10 is needed to protect state workers

Madison, WI (September 21, 2012) – A former Greenwood, Wisconsin teacher has filed complaints against a local teacher union for illegally refusing to honor her right under the state law commonly referred to as "Act 10" to refrain from union dues payments, and for refusing to follow constitutional disclosure requirements.

Amy Anaya filed the complaint with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

Anaya was a School District of Greenwood teacher for a year, beginning in August 2011, after Act 10 became effective. In September 2011, Greenwood Education Association (GEA) union officials approached Anaya and illegally told her that she "had to" sign the union's membership form. Anaya informed them that she had no desire to become a member of the union.

Click here to read the full release.

Wisconsin Civil Servants Defend Governor’s Public-Sector Unionism Reforms in Federal Court

News Release

Wisconsin Civil Servants Defend Governor's Public-Sector Unionism Reforms in Federal Court

Workers ask court to uphold reform measure protecting most Badger State public workers from forced unionism

Chicago, IL (August 14, 2012) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, three Wisconsin public employees asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to uphold all of Governor Scott Walker's public-sector unionism reform measures, known as "Act 10."

Pleasant Prairie teacher Kristi Lacroix, Waukesha high school teacher Nathan Berish, and trust fund specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds Ricardo Cruz filed their reply brief Monday.

The workers, who are forced to accept the "representation" of union officials, want instead the freedom to represent themselves with their employers. The workers are challenging a lower court judge's ruling striking down Wisconsin's new union recertification requirements and the ban on the use of taxpayer funded-payroll systems to collect union dues for general employees, as well as excluding them from the case.

Click here to read the full release.

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.

Wisconsin Civil Servants File Federal Appeals Brief Supporting Governor’s Public-Sector Unionism Reforms

News Release

Wisconsin Civil Servants File Federal Appeals Brief Supporting Governor’s Public-Sector Unionism Reforms

Workers ask court to uphold reform measure protecting most Badger State public workers from forced unionism

Madison, WI (June 6, 2012) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, three Wisconsin public employees have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to uphold all of Governor Scott Walker's public-sector unionism reform measures, known as "Act 10."

Pleasant Prairie teacher Kristi Lacroix, Waukesha high school teacher Nathan Berish, and trust fund specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds Ricardo Cruz filed the brief yesterday.

The workers, who are forced to accept the "representation" of union officials, want instead the freedom to represent themselves with their employers. The workers are challenging a lower court judge’s ruling to strike down Wisconsin's new union recertification requirements and the ban on the use of taxpayer funded-payroll systems to collect union dues for general employees.

Read the entire release here.

Civil Servants Appeal Wisconsin Public-Sector Unionism Case to Federal Appeals Court

News Release

Civil Servants Appeal Wisconsin Public-Sector Unionism Case to Federal Appeals Court

Workers ask court to uphold reform measure protecting most Badger State public workers from forced unionism

Madison, WI (May 1, 2011) – Three Wisconsin public employees have asked a federal appeals court to uphold all of Governor Scott Walker's public-sector unionism reform measures, known as "Act 10," in the latest development regarding the ongoing court saga.

With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, Pleasant Prairie English teacher Kristi Lacroix, Waukesha high school teacher Nathan Berish, and trust fund specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds Ricardo Cruz filed their appeal late last week supporting the reforms which limited government union officials' monopoly bargaining power over public workers and taxpayers.

All three Wisconsin civil servants want to exercise the freedom to represent themselves with their employers. In their earlier brief filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, they likened "the 'services' provided by (union officials) to be akin to those of some itinerant street window washers who sling dirty water on your car windshield, smear it around, and then demand payment." The teachers also object to the union's use of their forced union dues for the union's political activities and to the public employer serving as the unions' collecting agents.

The workers are appealing the district court's rulings denying them intervenor status and striking down Act 10's provisions that protect workers with a yearly secret-ballot recertification election to determine whether they want a union hierarchy to remain in their workplace and that prohibit the deduction of union dues.

Read the entire release here.


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