Right to Work legal challenge could determine if companies are allowed to hand over sensitive employee information to aggressive union organizers
Washington, DC (September 23, 2013) – National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys filed a brief at the United States Supreme Court late Friday for a Florida casino worker challenging a much used union organizing scheme. The case, Mulhall v. UNITE HERE, could determine whether union organizers can receive workers' personal information and other valuable organizing tools in exchange for concessions at employees' expense.
In 2004, UNITE HERE Local 355 and Mardi Gras Gaming entered into an agreement in which union officials promised to devote over one hundred thousand dollars to help pass a gambling ballot initiative and guaranteed not to picket, boycott, or strike against Mardi Gras facilities.
In return, Mardi Gras agreed to give union operatives workers' personal contact information (including home addresses), grant them access to company facilities during a coercive 'card check' organizing campaign, refrain from informing workers about the impact of unionization, and refrain from requesting a federally-supervised secret ballot election to determine whether employees unionized.
With the help of Foundation staff attorneys, Mardi Gras employee Martin Mulhall filed a lawsuit in 2008 challenging the organizing pact. 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 support of unionization. Mulhall argues that the company's assistance with organizing was of substantial monetary value because it made UNITE HERE’s organizing drive easier and less expensive.
Mulhall won a significant victory in 2012, when the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the company's organizing assistance could constitute "a thing of value." UNITE HERE lawyers quickly appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, prompting Foundation attorneys to file a cross-petition asking the Court to review 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 assistance. The Supreme Court will now revisit whether the company’s organizing assistance constitutes "a thing of value.
"We hope the Supreme Court will expand upon the Eleventh Circuit's landmark ruling and ensure that union organizers can't cut backroom deals that harm the very people they claim they want to represent," said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. "Companies shouldn't be allowed to turn over employees' personal information to unscrupulous Big Labor organizers as a negotiating tactic."
The Court will hear the case on November 13.