News Release

Right to Work Foundation Files Brief Opposing NLRB Bid to Impose Compulsory Unionism on College Athletes

Foundation brief argues that student athletes aren’t employees and therefore shouldn’t be subjected to compulsory unionism

Springfield, VA (July 10, 2014) – The National Right to Work Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal aid to employees nationwide, has filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) opposing the compulsory unionization of college athletes. The brief was filed in response to a ruling issued earlier this year by an NLRB regional director that found that Northwestern University football players are employees and thus eligible for unionization.

The Foundation’s brief points out that subjecting student athletes to compulsory unionization violates their First Amendment right to freedom of association. Under the NLRB regional director’s ruling, if a majority of student athletes in an NLRB-designated “bargaining unit” vote for unionization, all student athletes in said unit – even those who oppose the union’s presence – must accept the union’s bargaining over their terms of participation in college sports. The students may also be forced to pay union dues as a condition of participating in college athletics.

The Foundation’s brief goes on to argue that the NLRB has no interest in forcing students to accept union “representation” or forcing them to pay union dues because student athletes are not employees.

Unlike employees, student athletes are not compensated for workplace performance. Scholarships are often awarded on the basis of academic merit and other criteria unrelated to athletics, while many students “walk-on” to teams for no compensation whatsoever.

Foundation attorneys note that the NLRB regional director’s labeling of student athletes as employees could also apply to college students who receive scholarships for academics, music, or the arts. This overly-broad definition could leave even more students vulnerable to coercive unionization.

“Students shouldn’t be put in a position where they can be forced to pay union dues and accept union bargaining over their participation in college sports,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “We hope the NLRB will reverse the regional director’s ruling and protect students’ First Amendment 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.

NOTICE TO MICHIGAN EMPLOYEES: EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO WORK

Under your state’s recently-enacted Right to Work laws, no worker can be forced to join or pay dues to a union. However, you must take certain steps to assert these rights if you are currently a dues-paying union member. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a charitable organization that provides free legal assistance to employees across the country. Right to Work staff attorneys can help you resign from a union and stop paying dues, but you must contact us to request free legal assistance. Our toll-free legal aid hotline is 800-336-3600. You can also fill out this form on our website to request free legal assistance.

The National Right to Work Foundation has also compiled legal information for Michigan employees about their workplace rights. Private sector employees can find more detailed information about how to leave a union and stop paying dues here. Public sector employees can find more detailed information here. Although employees can leave a union and stop paying dues without legal assistance, many find it difficult to navigate the resignation process alone. Others face bureaucratic obstructionism from union officials. Again, we encourage any Michigan worker who wishes to leave his or her union to contact the National Right to Work Foundation for help. 

If you are a member of the Michigan Education Association (MEA) union, you are subject to a special union resignation window period that only takes place during the month of August. Click here for more detailed information about your legal rights. Right to Work staff attorneys can also provided free legal assistance to any MEA members who wish to stop paying union dues and leave the union. 

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a charitable organization that strives to provide legal assistance to all employees subjected to compulsory unionism. Foundation staff attorneys currently represent thousands of workers in over two hundred cases nationwide. However, we cannot guarantee that Right to Work attorneys will be able to assist every employee who contacts us. Each request for assistance will be evaluated based on the facts and the characteristics of the specific case, among other things.  

News Release

Former Pepsi Worker Files Federal Charges Against Teamsters and Company for Illegally Firing him for Refusing to Pay Union Dues

Ebensburg employee was terminated for failing to pay full union dues and initiation fees despite never belonging to the Teamsters union

Ebensburg, PA (September 24, 2014) – With the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a former Pepsi bottling plant employee has just filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against his former employer and the Teamsters Local 110 union.

When Michael Romanchock was hired by the plant in June 2013, he was not informed that the Teamsters were the bargaining agent for his workplace. He only learned about the Teamsters’ presence in March 2014, when he received a letter from the union demanding he pay full union dues and union initiation fees.

Under federal law, no employee can be forced to formally join a labor union. Because Pennsylvania lacks a Right to Work law, nonunion employees can be required to pay dues for workplace bargaining. However, they cannot be forced to pay dues for anything unrelated to that purpose, such as political lobbying or union-only benefits.

Not only did Teamster officials attempt to extract full union dues and initiation fees from Romanchock, they also failed to provide him with any information regarding how much he would owe if he remained a nonmember. Under federal law, union officials are obligated to provide financial information to objecting nonunion workers to help them determine how much they’re required to pay.

In May 2014, Teamster officials informed Romanchock that they would have him fired by Pepsi if he refused to pay up. In June 2014, a Pepsi human resources representative told Romanchock that if he did not pay the Teamsters by July 1, he would be fired. On July 1, 2014, Romanchock was fired by Pepsi at the behest of union officials.

Romanchock’s charges will now be investigated by the NLRB, a federal agency charged with administering private sector labor law.

“Teamster bosses and pliant Pepsi officials fired a man for refusing to pay full dues and initiation fees to a union he had no interest in joining,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “We hope the NLRB will rectify this injustice immediately, but until Pennsylvania makes union membership and dues payments voluntary by passing a Right to Work law, this type of workplace abuse will continue.”

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

Hospital Employees File Second Round of Federal Charges against IUOE Officials for Refusing to Provide Financial Disclosure

Union officials failed to provide nonunion workers with necessary information about the calculation of forced union fees

Springfield, OR (October 14, 2014) – With the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, several PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center employee have filed another round of federal charges against International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 701 for failing to provide adequate financial disclosure about the amount of union dues they are forced to pay as a condition of employment.

In January 2014, Rick Wirtz, John Bykerk, and several other Sacred Heart employees sent letters to the union affirming their nonmember status and objecting to the payment of full union dues. Because Oregon lacks a Right to Work law, nonunion employees can be required to pay union fees for workplace bargaining, but they cannot be forced to contribute to activities unrelated to that purpose, such as union political spending, lobbying and members-only events.

Union officials belatedly responded to the employees’ letters in August 2014. Although they offered to reduce the workers’ dues by 13%, IUOE officials included no information about how they arrived at that figure. Under federal labor law, unions are obligated to provide an independently-audited breakdown of their financial expenditures to help nonunion employees determine what dues they are required to pay and to decide whether to challenge the calculation.

According to union officials, Sacred Heart employees could only obtain a financial breakdown if they made an appointment at the union’s office, which is a two hour drive from their homes.

After the first round of unfair labor practice charges were filed in September 2014, union officials finally sent the objecting employees an audit of the local’s expenditures. However, they provided no information about the expenditures of the union’s national affiliates. Moreover, the audit revealed that nonunion employees were being charged for “death benefits,” which are only available to full union members.

The charges will now be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency responsible for administering private sector labor law.

“When Mr. Wirtz and his co-workers asked for information they’re entitled to under federal law, union officials responded with obstruction, obfuscation, and delay,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Clearly, the union’s top priority is extracting as much money as possible from nonunion employees.”

“We hope the NLRB will promptly intervene to protect Sacred Heart employees’ workplace rights,” continued Semmens. “However, this type of abuse will persist until Oregon adopts a Right to Work law, which would make union membership and dues payments strictly voluntary.”

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

Michigan Teacher Files Charges against MEA Union for Blocking Resignation, Illegally Demanding Dues

Union officials violated Michigan’s recently-enacted public sector Right to Work law

Houghton, MI (December 4, 2014) – With the help of National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a local middle school teacher has filed charges with the Michigan Employee Relations Commission (MERC) against the Michigan Education Association (MEA) union for blocking his attempt to resign from the union and demanding he continue to pay full dues.

Jeffery Hauswirth, a veteran Houghton Middle School teacher, sent a letter to the union announcing his resignation on August 30, 2013. According to the MEA’s bylaws, teachers can only leave the the union by sending a resignation letter during the month of August. MEA officials claim that they only received Hauswirth’s resignation letter in September and that the letter was not postmarked in August.

In June 2014, union officials notified Hauswirth that he owed nearly $700 in union dues for the 2013-2014 year despite the fact that he resigned in August.

The United States Supreme Court has long held that workers have a right to resign from a labor union at any time. Moreover, Michigan’s recently-enacted public sector Right to Work law explicitly states that public employees cannot be restrained from voluntarily leaving a union.

Hauswirth’s charges seek to force the MEA to recognize his August 2013 resignation and stop attempting to collect union dues for the 2013-2014 year. The charges also seek to have the union remove any restriction on members resigning from its bylaws and notify its members, via letters and public notices on workplace bulletin boards, that it was guilty of an unfair labor practice.

“Union officials often force workers to jump through bureaucratic hoops to discourage them from exercising their workplace rights,” said Patrick Semmens, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Despite the passage of Michigan’s public sector Right to Work legislation, union bosses will continue to circumvent the law’s protections until MERC stops these illegal attempts to prevent Michigan public employees from exercising their 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.

Terms of Web Site Use      Related Links: National Right to Work Committee | National Institute for Labor Relations Research

Copyright © 2010 National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
 National Right to Work Legal Defense and Education Foundation, Inc.
8001 Braddock Road / Springfield, Virginia 22160
(703) 321-8510 | (800) 336-3600 / (703) 321-9613 fax - general (703) 321-9319 fax - legal department