Right to Work legal challenge could determine if companies are allowed to hand over sensitive employee information to aggressive union organizers
Washington, DC (January 14, 2012) – Today, the United States Supreme Court requested a brief from the U.S. Solicitor General in Mulhall v. UNITE HERE, a case that could determine if companies are allowed to hand over workers' personal information to union organizers in exchange for union concessions at the employees' expense.
Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement:
"We're pleased the Supreme Court wants more views on Mulhall v. UNITE HERE, a case that has important implications for worker rights. Big Labor organizers should not be able to offer secret deals for workers they have no relationship with that exchange union concessions for employees' personal information. The Labor Management Relations Act is intended to prevent backroom payoffs to union officials like the ones at issue in Mulhall, which is why the Supreme Court should take the case and make sure that law does not become an empty letter."
With the help of Foundation staff attorneys, Mardi Gras Gaming employee Martin Mulhall filed a lawsuit challenging an organizing pact between his employer and UNITE HERE in 2008. Under the Labor Management Relations Act, employers are prohibited from handing over "any money or other thing of value" to union organizers, a provision that is supposed to prevent union officials from selling out workers' rights in exchange for corporate concessions. Mulhall argued that the company's concessions, such as giving organizers employees' personal information, were of substantial monetary value because they made UNITE HERE's organizing drive easier and less expensive.
Mulhall won a significant victory last spring, when the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the company's organizing assistance could constitute "a thing of value." UNITE HERE lawyers quickly petitioned the Supreme Court for review, prompting Foundation attorneys to file a cross-petition asking the Court to examine certain aspects of the Eleventh Circuit's ruling. Foundation attorneys believe that the Eleventh Circuit's decision was too narrowly tailored to always prevent companies from aiding union organizers with valuable concessions.