Teacher Unions 

News Release

Grand Rapids Teacher Files State Charges Against Union and School District for Right to Work Violations

Union and school officials collude to force school employees into dues-paying union ranks despite Right to Work law

Grand Rapids, MI (April 21, 2014) – A Grand Rapids-area special education teacher has filed state charges against a local union and the school district for violating school employees' rights under Michigan's Right to Work law.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Becky Lapham of Portland, Michigan, filed the state charges last week with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) in Detroit.

The 11-year Lincoln Developmental Center school teacher notified the Michigan Education Association (MEA) union that she was exercising her rights under the Foundation-won Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson case to refrain from full union dues payments and requesting a financial disclosure of how her forced union dues and fees are being spent.

MEA union officials refused to comply with Lapham's request, claiming that she would have to wait for a union-designated "window period" in August 2014 to refrain from full dues payments, and threatened to report her to a collections agency. Lapham points out that Michigan's Right to Work law protects her unequivocal right to refrain from union membership at any time. Analogously, federal labor law also protects workers' absolute right to refrain from union membership at any time without penalty.

Lapham also filed additional charges against the union and Grand Rapids Public Schools for entering into an agreement illegally amending and extending the forced unionism provisions in the monopoly bargaining agreement beyond the date allowed under Michigan's Right to Work law for public employees. That law specifies that contracts or amendments entered into after the law went into effect must respect workers' right to refrain from the payment of any union dues or fees.

"Across the state, union officials are pulling out all the stops to keep workers from exercising their rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Foundation staff attorneys are assisting workers throughout the state whose rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law are being denied by unscrupulous union officials seeking to circumvent the law."

In similar cases across Michigan, Foundation staff attorneys have already assisted 10 other public-sector workers who filed charges with the MERC and two private-sector workers who filed federal charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

First Grade Teacher Hits Teacher Union Officials with State Charge for Violating Kansas's Longstanding Right to Work Law

Union officials stonewall teacher's attempt to cut off union dues payments

Wichita, KS (December 26, 2013) – A first grade teacher at Peterson Elementary School has filed a state charge against a local teacher union for violating her rights under Kansas's long-standing Right to Work law.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Tiffani Knowles filed the state charge last week with the Kansas Department of Labor in Topeka.

On July, 31, 2013, Knowles sent a letter to the United Teachers of Wichita (UTW) union stating that she was exercising her right under the state's Right to Work law to refrain from full union membership and dues payments. Under Kansas's Right to Work law, union officials must respect workers' right to refrain from the payment of any union dues.

Because the union did not receive the letter before August 1, UTW union officials told her that she would have to wait for a union-designated "window period" of July 1, 2014 through July 31, 2014 before she could resign union membership even though UTW's own constitution states "Members may resign by sending written notice to the United Teachers of Wichita office prior to August 1."

Knowles points out in her charge that Kansas's Right to Work law protects her unequivocal right to refrain from union membership at any time. Analogously, federal labor law also protects workers' absolute right to refrain from union membership at any time without penalty.

Knowles is asking the Kansas Department of Labor to order the UTW union to accept her union membership resignation and either strike down the UTW's provisions prohibiting workers from freely exercising their Right to Work or require the UTW to accept resignations sent in compliance with its own constitution.

"Union officials are violating their own rules in order to keep this teacher from exercising her right to refrain from union membership and dues payments," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Because state and federal law protect workers' right to unconditionally refrain from union membership at any time, we call on the Kansas Department of Labor to hold this union's scheme invalid.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

Pro-Act 10 Settlement in Wisconsin Teachers' Lawsuit Clears Path for Union Recertification Elections

Teachers win right to union recertification elections guaranteed under law

Waukesha, WI (December 5, 2013) – The Waukesha County Circuit Court has approved a settlement between five Wisconsin public school teachers and the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) that will allow teachers across the state to determine whether union officials can continue to claim to represent those teachers in their respective workplaces guaranteed under Wisconsin Act 10.

With the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, five Wisconsin public school teachers filed a lawsuit in the state court last month against the WERC after WERC officials canceled the teachers' recertification elections.

The WERC cancelled the elections, which were originally scheduled to take place in early November, after a Dane County Circuit Court judge halted implementation of the law.

All five teachers are employed in workplaces where they are subject to a union monopoly bargaining agreement, which means all five have been forced to accept the union's so-called "representation." The teachers work in school districts in Waukesha, Milwaukee, La Crosse, Racine, and Elmbrook.

Wisconsin Act 10 prevents government sector union officials from forcing nonmember workers to pay any union fees, restricts union monopoly bargaining to the issue of employee wages, ends the use of taxpayer funded payroll systems for the collection of union dues, and guarantees that public workers will vote on their union representation yearly.

In compliance with the court's judgment approving the settlement, the WERC began conducting secret-ballot recertification elections on November 29, 2013.

Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a ruling vacating the Dane County Circuit Court judge's order that had prohibited the WERC from conducting recertification elections.

"Many independent-minded civil servants have no interest in associating with government sector unions and they deserve to have their voices heard," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Act 10 protects those workers' right to do so and now these civil servants will be allowed to participate in the elections that they were promised to express their interests regarding union representation."

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

Right to Work Foundation Launches Campaign to Assist Illinois Teachers Who Want to Stop Paying for Union Politics

Radio campaign and TeacherRefund.com website inform teachers about their right to reclaim union dues spent on politics

Springfield, VA (November 14, 2013) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal assistance to employees nationwide, has launched a multimedia advertising campaign to inform Illinois public school teachers of their rights to refrain from union membership and the payment of full union dues.

“Employee rights have been in the news since the tumultuous but ultimately successful efforts to reform labor law in neighboring Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “We’d like to capitalize on that momentum by informing Illinois educators of their rights to opt out of paying for union politics.”

Illinois is one of 26 states that lack Right to Work laws, which means employees – including public school teachers – can be forced to pay union dues or fees just to get or keep a job. However, under Supreme Court precedents won by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, employees cannot be lawfully forced to pay for union activities unrelated to workplace bargaining, such as union political activism.

All employees also have the right to resign their union membership at any time.

“Unfortunately, many Illinois public school teachers are simply unaware of their rights to leave a union and stop paying for union politics,” continued Mix. “We hope to address that problem by educating as many teachers as possible about their workplace rights.”

Radio ads will direct Illinois educators to TeacherRefund.com, a website that provides legal information about teachers’ rights to resign from a union and opt out of dues for union politics.

“No teacher should be forced to pay for political causes he or she disagrees with, which is why these educational campaigns are so vital,” said Mix. “Our team of experienced staff attorneys is standing by to help Illinois public school teachers assert their workplace rights.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

Five Wisconsin Teachers File Lawsuit Seeking Act 10 Enforcement

Teachers seek union recertification elections guaranteed under law

Waukesha, WI (October 30, 2013) – With the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, five Wisconsin public school teachers have filed a lawsuit in state court against the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC).

In the lawsuit, the teachers seek the secret-ballot recertification elections, guaranteed under Wisconsin Act 10, which will allow teachers across the state to determine whether union officials can continue to claim to represent those teachers in their respective workplaces.

All five teachers are employed in workplaces where they are subject to a union monopoly bargaining agreement, which means all five have been forced to accept the union's so-called "representation." The teachers work in school districts in Waukesha, Milwaukee, La Crosse, Racine, and Elmbrook.

Wisconsin Act 10 prevents public sector union officials from collecting any money from nonmember workers, restricts union monopoly bargaining to the issue of employee wages, ends the use of taxpayer funded payroll systems for the collection of union dues, and guarantees that public workers will vote on their union representation yearly.

After a Dane County Circuit Court judge recently halted implementation of the law, WERC officials canceled the teachers' recertification elections. The elections were originally scheduled to take place in November.

Alternatively, the teachers ask that if the court does not declare that WERC must hold the recertification elections, then the teachers should be granted their right to represent themselves individually regarding the terms and conditions of their employment.

"Many independent-minded civil servants have no interest in associating with government sector unions and they deserve to have their voices heard," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Act 10 protects those workers' right to do so and we hope these civil servants will be allowed to participate in the elections that they were promised to express their interests regarding their union representation."

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

Special Needs Teaching Assistant Files Charge against Union for Ignoring Her Rights Under Michigan's Right to Work Law

Teacher union officials stonewall worker's attempt to resign from union membership and dues payments

Pinckney, MI (October 23, 2013) – A local special needs classroom assistant has filed a state charge against a local teacher union for violating her rights under Michigan's recently enacted public-sector Right to Work law.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Linda Evon of Pinckney filed the state charge late last week with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) in Detroit.

Evon, who works as a special needs classroom assistant for Pinckney Community Schools, informed the Michigan Education Association (MEA) union on September 4, 2013, that she was exercising her right under Michigan's Right to Work law to refrain from union dues payments after the union's monopoly bargaining agreement with her employer expired on June 30, 2013. Under Michigan's Right to Work law, contracts entered into after the law went into effect must respect workers' right to refrain from the payment of any union dues.

Instead of complying with Evon's request, MEA union officials told her that she would have to wait for a union-designated "window period" of August 1 through August 31 before she could resign union membership and refrain from union dues payments.

Evon points out in her charge that Michigan's Right to Work law protects her unequivocal right to refrain from union membership at any time. Analogously, Supreme Court precedent under federal labor law also protects workers' absolute right to refrain from union membership at any time without penalty.

"Across the state, union bosses are pulling out all the stops to keep workers from exercising their rights under Michigan's Right to Work law," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "In a growing number of Foundation cases now, union officials face state or federal charges for denying workers their rights under Michigan's Right to Work law."

"Foundation attorneys will continue their efforts to assist workers whose rights are violated by unscrupulous union bosses," added Mix.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
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).

In their brief, the teachers argue that the Wisconsin Court of Appeals should overturn the lower court's ruling that held that Act 10 is unconstitutional. The teachers' arguments in the brief rely on precedents long established by National Right to Work Foundation-won cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as recent Foundation-supported victories at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which upheld all of Act 10, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, which upheld Indiana's recently-enacted Right to Work law.

Meanwhile, two other Wisconsin public servants – Christopher King and Carie Kendrick – have also filed an amicus brief opposing a union legal challenge to Act 10 in another federal court.

"Once again, courageous Wisconsin public servants who want nothing to do with union bosses' so-called 'representation' have stepped forward to protect these vital reforms," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "No worker should be forced to pay union dues just to get or keep a job, which is why Wisconsin should pass a private-sector Right to Work law, ensuring that all Badger State employees are free of forced unionism."

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
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.

In December 2011, GEA union officials again demanded that Anaya join the union, and Anaya again informed them that she was not interested in joining.

Under Wisconsin's Act 10 public-sector unionism reforms, Anaya, as a nonmember, had the right to refrain from paying any union dues or fees as a condition of her employment.

Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court has long held that a worker has a First Amendment right to refrain from formal union membership at any time. Additionally, any worker who refrains from union membership cannot be required to pay union dues spent for union activities like political activism, lobbying, and member-only events. Nonmember workers are entitled to an independently-audited breakdown of union expenditures and the chance to challenge any forced dues or fees before an impartial third party.

Despite Act 10 and the union's failure to provide these constitutional protections, the school district deducted full union dues from Anaya's paychecks for the whole year, totaling to about $750.

"Teacher union bosses and school officials ignored state law and U.S. Supreme Court precedent to illegally coerce this teacher into full-dues-paying union ranks against her will," said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work. "This case underscores just how important Act 10 is in protecting Wisconsin public employees from forced unionism abuses such as this."

"No worker should ever be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment," added Mix.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
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).

Foundation attorneys disassemble the union lawyers' arguments for new precedent that would establish teaching assistants and other graduate students as employees of a university, because grades are the central form of compensation for graduate students who are paid to teach, research, or perform temporary work. Foundation attorneys further question whether grades would ultimately become a mandatory subject of monopoly bargaining if paid graduate students were treated as employees for purposes of unionization.

"While the UAW may have Marxist dreams that students are 'workers' (as opposed to students), who will be in the vanguard of an economic revolution when the workers of the world unite, the fact remains that graduate students are students and not employees, and have little commonality of interest with most employees," the Foundation pointed out in its brief.

Foundation attorneys also argue that allowing union officials monopoly bargaining power over all teaching assistants would violate the First Amendment freedom of association rights of dissenting teaching assistants, thereby undermining academic freedom.

Earlier this month, Foundation staff attorneys filed a similar brief with the NLRB in a case involving Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh/Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 38061 union organizers' attempt to unionize professors at Point Park University in Pittsburgh.

"Union officials' repeated ham-handed attempts to corral graduate students and university professors into unwanted union affiliation and force them to pay dues for unwanted 'representation' can only be explained as that Big Labor sees the Board’s current makeup favorable to forced unionism," stated Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This case shows that union officials will stop at nothing to collect forced dues from anyone possible, even unsuspecting graduate students."

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.
News Release

Right to Work Foundation Announces New Addition to Legal Team

Regent-trained attorney dedicated to the cause of individual liberty for America's workers

Washington, DC (January 30, 2012) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has hired Sarah Hartsfield of Austin, Texas, as an addition to its legal staff.

Hartsfield is a recently sworn in member of the Virginia State Bar and 2011 graduate of the Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

"Sarah brings to the Foundation a real commitment to defending and advancing individual liberty against the injustices of compulsory unionism," said Ray LaJeunesse, vice president and legal director of the National Right to Work Foundation.

"She will assist the Foundation's cutting-edge legal team in defending America's workers from Big Labor's growing influence in the public sector, enforcing individual employees' rights against compulsory unionism, and establishing new precedents to increase workplace freedom for America’s workers."

As the newest of the Foundation's 12 staff attorneys, Hartsfield will help build on the Foundation's litigation record for union-abused workers that includes 15 cases at the United States Supreme Court, seven of which were won in whole or in part, and one of which was argued earlier this month. Currently, National Right to Work Foundation attorneys represent thousands of workers in nearly 200 active cases nationwide.

Before joining the Foundation, Hartsfield served as an intern for the Singer Legal Group in Virginia Beach, Virginia and the Chesapeake Public Defender's Office in Chesapeake, Virginia. She was also an intern, and later an executive assistant, at the Ashcroft Group, L.L.C. in Washington, D.C.

While at Regent, Hartsfield participated in a variety of activities and clubs and was an Associate Member of Regent's Moot Court Board, competed in numerous moot court competitions, and was a member of the Student Ambassador program. She holds a bachelors degree in Government from the University of Texas, where she graduated in 2008.

Read more about the Foundation's legal team here.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.

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