News Release

U.S. Appeals Court Rejects Obama Administration Stance in Case Challenging Backroom Union Deals

Obama Labor Board and Departments of Labor, Justice sought to roll back worker’s federal court victory

Hollywood, FL (May 3, 2012) – The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has shot down the Obama Administration's attempt to roll back a worker's protracted, precedent-setting legal victory against a local union.

The case is a legal challenge initiated by Hollywood, Florida-area Mardi Gras Gaming groundskeeper Martin Mulhall with free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation.

In 2008, Mardi Gras entered into an agreement with Unite Here Local 355 union officials promising that it would hand over employees' personal contact information (including home addresses), grant union operatives access to company facilities for the purpose of organizing through a coercive card check campaign, and refrain from speaking about the downsides of unionization. In return, the Unite Here officials expended over one hundred thousand dollars to support a gambling ballot initiative and guaranteed not to picket, boycott, or strike the facility.

Federal law aimed at preventing unions from agreeing to undermine workers' rights in exchange for concessions from management explicitly prohibits employers from giving "any money or other thing of value" to unions. Mulhall sued Unite Here Local 355 and Mardi Gras in 2008, arguing that the company's organizing assistance to the union is of substantial monetary value to the union.

In a precedent-setting decision, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit agreed with Mulhall, ruling that organizing assistance can be an unlawful "thing of value." Union lawyers subsequently petitioned the full court to rehear the case.

Obama Justice and Labor Department officials, along with controversial National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon, filed an amicus curiae brief supporting the union lawyers' position.

The court rejected the union bosses' petition, even noting that not one of its regular active judges requested a poll on whether to grant the union lawyers' request for rehearing.

"Union bosses and the Obama Administration have failed to roll back a major, precedent-setting victory for workers," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Today, the court reaffirmed that union organizing is indeed a thing of value to union bosses who want to sell out workers to pave the way for monopoly control over a workplace."

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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