Threat of federal court appeal forces National Labor Relations Board to reverse itself
Las Vegas, NV (February 5, 2008) — Under threat of a federal court appeal, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) this week reversed itself and authorized a local worker to claim over $100,000 in damages after International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 720 union officials illegally discriminated against him.
Union brass had unlawfully expelled the employee from an exclusive union hiring hall, denied him the ability to obtain work, and offered him no means of reinstatement.
The ruling comes in a case brought by Las Vegas-area worker Steven Lucas, with free legal help from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys. Lucas is an audio-visual equipment technician employed in the Las Vegas trade show and convention industry.
In June 2007, the NLRB in Washington, DC, upheld a preliminary ruling by NLRB Region 28 in Las Vegas allowing Lucas to reclaim only about $16,000 in lost wages from one job due to the unlawful union discrimination. In reality, union officials’ illegal blackballing of Lucas from getting work from more than a dozen employers during 1995 and 1996 had cost him many times that amount.
The Lucas case has been a major source of embarrassment for the NLRB since the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals several years ago reprimanded the agency and forced it to pay attorneys’ fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) because its position in an earlier phase of the case was “not substantially justified.”
“The prospect of even more embarrassment for the NLRB in enabling this outrageous union discrimination forced the agency’s hand,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Even in a Right to Work state where payment of union dues is voluntary, union officials use their monopoly bargaining power to punish workers that don’t toe the union line.”
Lucas was a union member from 1981-1992 and used the hiring hall until 1994, when union officials illegally and arbitrarily expelled him from the hiring hall. By not allowing Lucas to be reinstated in the hiring hall, IATSE union officials denied him work opportunities for a period of roughly 18 months.
Even though Nevada has a highly popular and effective Right to Work law that frees nonunion employees from paying membership dues to an unwanted union, IATSE union officials use their monopoly bargaining privileges to set up “exclusive hiring halls.” In such halls, union officials decide which employees to refer for work at conventions and trade shows, and workers are forced to pay money to the union to be eligible for work.