News Release

Building on Supreme Court Victory, Right to Work Foundation Offers Free Legal Aid to Homecare and Childcare Providers Nationwide

Foundation attorneys plan to use High Court’s Harris precedent to end homecare and childcare forced unionization schemes from coast to coast

Springfield, VA (July 3, 2014) – In the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark Harris v. Quinn ruling, the National Right to Work Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal assistance to employees, has announced an offer of free legal aid to homecare and childcare providers across the country who are subject to forced unionization.

Harris, which was argued by Foundation staff attorneys for eight Illinois care providers, struck down a scheme pushed by former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and current Illinois Governor Pat Quinn that forced providers to pay union dues. The Supreme Court ruled that forcing Illinois caregivers, whose charges receive a small state subsidy, to pay union dues violates their First Amendment rights.

Homecare and/or childcare unionization schemes have been established in at least 18 other states. Foundation staff attorneys are currently assisting homecare or childcare providers in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Michigan who wish to refrain from joining or financially supporting unwanted unions.

Foundation litigators believe that the Harris precedent can be used to challenge homecare and childcare unionization schemes nationwide. To that end, the National Right to Work Foundation has announced an offer of free legal assistance to caregivers who oppose compulsory union dues.

“After examining the Harris decision, our staff attorneys have concluded that the Supreme Court’s ruling can be used to challenge coercive homecare unionization schemes in states across the country,” said Ray LaJeunesse, Vice President and Legal Director of the National Right to Work Foundation.

“No personal caregiver should be forced to pay union dues, which is why we’re extending an offer of free legal assistance to homecare and childcare providers everywhere,” continued LaJeunesse. “We hope to leverage the Harris decision to end the specter of homecare unionization and protect providers’ First Amendment rights nationwide.”

Homecare and childcare providers subjected to forced unionization schemes can request free legal assistance from Foundation staff attorneys by visiting the Foundation’s website at www.nrtw.org or calling the Foundation’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-336-3600. Each request for assistance will be evaluated on its merits based on the facts and the characteristics of the specific unionization scheme, among other things.

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

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.
News Release

Fire Captain Wins Settlement with Employer that Protects his Religious Rights from Union Interference

Firefighter objected to union scheme that required him to “donate” annual leave to union officials

San Francisco, CA (January 13, 2015) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, a California Department of Forestry fire captain has obtained a settlement from his employer that protects his freedom of conscience in the workplace.

John Valentich, a veteran firefighter, objected to a clause in the bargaining agreement between his employer and the CAL FIRE Local 2881 union that requires all employees – even those who are not union members – to “donate” three hours of annual leave each year for union activities. Valentich is a religious objector who wishes to refrain from affiliating with the union because of its support for abortion and same-sex marriage.

In November 2013, Valentich filed charges challenging the annual leave policy with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in San Francisco.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination against religious employees and requires companies and unions to attempt to reasonably accommodate workers’ sincerely-held religious beliefs.

This isn’t the first time Valentich has filed charges to defend his religious convictions from union interference. In 2012, Right to Work attorneys helped Valentich ensure that the union dues he’s required to pay to keep his job were diverted to a charity, instead of being used to fund union activities.

However, Valentich later learned that he still had to support Local 2881 through a union-negotiated policy that required that he donate three days of leave for union activities.

Under the terms of the settlement, CAL FIRE union officials will determine based on Valentich’s salary the monetary equivalent of the three days of leave he is required to hand over. That sum will then be donated to a nonreligious, non-labor charitable organization approved by the State of California.

“No employee should be forced to give time or money to a union he or she has no interest in supporting,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Fortunately, we were able to help Mr. Valentich obtain a settlement that protects his deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“However, many California employees with political or religious objections to supporting a union are still being forced to pay dues,” continued Mix. “That’s why California needs 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

NRTW Submits FOIA to Uncover Dealings between Department of Labor and German Union during VW Unionization Drive

Freedom of Information Act request seeks to shed light on German labor organizations’ involvement in the UAW’s Chattanooga unionization push

Washington, DC (January 15, 2015) – Today, the National Right to Work Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal assistance to thousands of workers nationwide, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Labor to uncover any communication between the Department and two German labor organizations regarding the ongoing unionization campaign at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga facilities.

Foundation staff attorneys assisted several workers who were subjected to coercive card check unionization tactics and pressure from management and union organizers during the United Auto Workers (UAW) union's multi-year campaign to unionize VW’s Chattanooga plant. The Foundation also helped several VW workers file a federal suit challenging the company's assistance to UAW officials during the campaign as an illegal exchange of "thing[s] of value" under the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA).

VW’s Global Works Council and IG Metall, a German autoworker union, were both prominent supporters of the UAW’s organizing drive. However, neither organization divulged the extent of their involvement in Chattanooga to the Department of Labor, despite the fact that their high-profile support for the UAW should have triggered disclosure requirements under the LMRA.

Although a majority of Chattanooga workers voted against the UAW in a secret ballot election last February, the UAW and its German backers have continued to push for unionization. Furthermore, UAW officials have refused to abide by an agreement they signed with VW not to engage in organizing activities at the facility for one year if workers voted against them.

In November 2014, Foundation President Mark Mix submitted a letter to Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez calling on the Department of Labor to require both German labor organizations to comply with American labor law and disclose their relationship with the UAW. To date, Mix’s letter has received no substantive response and there is no record of either organization filing the mandated disclosure reports.

The Foundation’s FOIA request seeks to uncover any communications between the Department of Labor, VW’s Global Works Council, and the IG Metall union. Foundation staff attorneys hope to determine if the Department of Labor is actively assisting these organizations in their efforts to unionize VW’s Chattanooga facilities.

“German labor organizations shouldn’t be exempt from American disclosure guidelines when they operate in the United States,” said Mix. “Did the UAW make promises to IG Metall to obtain its support that could affect the wages and working conditions of VW Chattanooga employees down the road? Is the Department of Labor actively supporting the UAW and IG Metall’s efforts to unionize the Chattanooga plant? Chattanooga VW workers facing the prospect of another unionization drive deserve to know the answers to these questions, which is why we filed this FOIA request.”

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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