The Self Serving Labor Board

Wednesday's Daily Labor Report (subscription required) featured a self-serving article likely placed by the National Labor Relations Board's PR flacks in which the two remaining board members assert that the NLRB "might actually be functioning more efficiently" with three vacancies than with a full five-member panel. Hmmm. Perhaps Congress should take another look at the NLRB's excessive funding levels.

We at Freedom @ Work also take issue with a false claim by the Board contained in the article:

Applying current board precedent, regardless of whether either of the two members disagrees with it and thinks it should be overturned, "hasn't been difficult, because as usual we generally try to decide cases based on extant board law," [Chairman Peter] Schaumber said. The two members explained that they are following longstanding board policy not to make new law or set new rules without at least a three-member majority voting for the change.

Oops, Mr. Schaumber. Not so. Just a few weeks ago, the two-member Board issued a controversial ruling which changed the law and further encouraged union-stooge congressmen to engage in deception and union coercion. As a Foundation press release explained (emphasis mine):

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a controversial and ground-breaking ruling that gives Congressmen and other public officials the green light to stage fake “certification” ceremonies that give the misimpression of official government recognition of a union during “card check” organizing drives.

The case dismissed objections to the conduct of Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ) and other government officials who participated in a televised sham union “certification” ceremony and public announcement that workers had selected a union immediately prior to a NLRB certification election last summer at the Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City.

The NLRB’s ruling raised the burden of proof requirements for arguing that conduct tainted a certification election. Earlier Board law did not require challengers to present incontrovertible evidence that many employees were actually aware of the objectionable conduct – only that it was likely that many were.

Either Schaumber was confused when deciding this Trump Plaza Hotel case, or he's being disingenuous to the press.

Big Labor Unleashes Record Political Activisim

Yesterday, the AFL-CIO officially endorsed its candidate for president. The endorsement should come as no surprise, of course, since Big Labor has always used member dues -- and forced dues from nonmembers -- to support its Far Left political agenda. But this year's campaign will apparently be the largest and most expensive yet:

This year, the AFL-CIO is carrying out its largest grassroots political mobilization in history. Thousands of volunteers are helping educate millions of workers and mobilizing them to get to the polls to elect Barack Obama and a working family-friendly Congress. The AFL-CIO union movement is focusing on mobilizing more than 13 million union voters―including union members, families of members, retirees and members of the AFL-CIO community affiliate Working America―in 24 priority states, working to elect U.S. senators and representatives, as well as state and local candidates.

An Associated Press report reports how much money Big Labor is admitting it will spend on electioneering. (While large, the numbers below understate by several hundred million dollars Big Labor's true political spending this year, according to our research.):

As expected, the leaders of the nation's largest labor organization voted unanimously to endorse Obama, freeing the organization and its 56 unions to spend some of its $200 million war chest on his campaign.
...
Between the AFL-CIO and its chief rival, the Change to Win labor organization, the nation's labor movement plans to spend around $300 million on the 2008 elections. Change to Win, made up of seven powerful unions that broke away from the AFL-CIO in 2005, already has endorsed Obama. The AFL-CIO represents 9 million union members; Change to Win, 6 million.

Big Labor "represents" so many workers because forced unionism laws compel workers in 28 states to join or pay dues to a union. Even in Right to Work states, many workers are unaware of their rights, and in some cases union bosses pretend Right to Work laws don't even exist. Legally, thanks to Foundation-won Supreme Court cases Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, and Communications Workers of America v. Beck, workers can be forced to pay dues for unwanted bargaining, but may opt out of paying dues which union bosses use on non-bargaining activities such as union politics, lobbying, and member-only events.

But as we so often see, union officials frequently trample these constitutional rights. Last week, the Foundation announced a settlement reached between an Alaska state employee and the Alaska State Employees Association union, an AFL-CIO affiliate. ASEA union officials threatened Hunsick's dismissal for refusal pay full union dues. Hunsick did not want to support the union's political and ideological agenda, but union bosses continually denied him the procedural safeguards guaranteed under Hudson.

When an AFL-CIO activist knocks on your door and hands you a pamphlet explaining who to vote for, keep in mind that the funding behind it all might just be seized at gunpoint (figuratively speaking, in most cases) from folks like Robert Hunsick.

News Release

Federal Government to Prosecute Hollywood Union Bosses for Unfair Labor Practices

Film crew union officials illegally refuse to disclose expenditures of politically-active affiliates

Los Angeles, California (July 2, 2008) – Federal labor prosecutors in Los Angeles have issued a class-action complaint against union officials for failing to provide Paramount Classics film crew members with proper financial disclosure of their forced union dues.

In July 2006, with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, Mary Jasionowski filed an unfair labor practice charge on behalf of similarly situated employees with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Script Supervisors/Continuity & Allied Production Specialists Guild, Local 871. The NLRB Regional Director has agreed with Jasionowski’s charges and will prosecute the case before an administrative law judge in Los Angeles.

Though not a union member, Jasionowski is forced to pay union fees as a condition of her employment. However, she exercised her limited right to object to the collection of forced dues spent for any purposes other than collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance administration. In the Foundation-won Communication Workers of America v. Beck (1988) decision, the United States Supreme Court held that private-sector employees may be compelled to pay certain union dues, but may withhold the portion of union fees which funds activities like union politics, lobbying, and member-only events.

Under legal precedents won by Foundation attorneys, all non-union members must be provided with a statement breaking down the union’s expenditures, verified by an independent auditor. Additionally, a nonmember may challenge the amount of the fee imposed by union officials.

In late May 2006, Jasionowski notified Local 871 – an affiliate of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IASTE) – that she objected to the payment of forced fees for non-bargaining activities. Union officials, however, failed to provide an adequate breakdown of the union’s expenditures, particularly payments to IASTE and other union affiliates that are also involved in political and other non-bargaining activity.

“Perhaps more than in any other profession, union officials in the entertainment business seem to think they are above the law,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Mary Jasionowski – or any other employee – should not be forced to support the political agenda of a union she never wanted to ‘represent’ her in the first place.”

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

SEIU Union Officials Face Federal Prosecution for Illegal Threats against Non-Striking Nurses

Right to Work attorneys trigger prosecution after union bosses threatened Pomona Valley nurses with jail time for refusing to abandon patients

Los Angeles, California (July 3, 2008) – Federal labor board officials in Los Angeles will prosecute the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 121RN for illegally threatening nurses at the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center with financial penalties and arrest for refusing to abandon their patients during a union-ordered strike.

Last October, SEIU officials ordered a general strike after the collective bargaining agreement between the union and the hospital expired, but many nurses refused to abandon their patients. To continue treating patients during the union-ordered strike without union retaliation, the nurses resigned from formal union membership. However, union bosses – citing an unenforceable California state law deterring “strikebreakers” (i.e. dutiful employees) – told the nurses that they could face stiff fines and even up to 90 days in jail if they did not join the strike. With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, nurse Carole Jean Badertscher filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

When the NLRB Regional Director originally declined to prosecute the law-breaking SEIU bosses, Foundation attorneys filed an appeal with the NLRB’s General Counsel. The General Counsel determined that the Regional Director improperly dropped the case and ordered issuance of an unfair labor practice complaint against the abusive union hierarchy.

According to the complaint, union bosses illegally threatened nurses with arrest and jail under the invalid California law that is preempted by federal labor law. Additionally, the complaint alleges that union officials misled nurses by suggesting that non-member employees would continue to owe compulsory union dues even though no contract containing a valid forced-dues clause was in effect.

“Rather than being properly commended for refusing to turn their backs on their patients, these brave nurses faced ugly threats of fines and imprisonment from union bosses,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “It is reprehensible that union bosses are illegally threatening nurses in an effort to get them to walk out on their patients.”

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.

More Forced Unionism Absurdity from Denver Post

A couple of weeks ago, Will Collins blasted Denver Post deputy editor Bob Ewegen for his misleading column denying the economic boom underway in Right to Work states. This weekend, Ewegen once again spouted the talking points of compulsory unionism (emphasis mine):

Despite the label, "Right to Work" laws don't guarantee anybody a job — unless you're a lawyer. Unions have filed a lawsuit alleging widespread fraud by the petition gatherers hired by the anti-union forces. The challenge could knock the initiative off the ballot, though sponsors have asked for the right to seek extra signatures to "cure" those defects.

Big Labor and its media stooges love setting up a tired false dichotomy about Right to Work. The Right to Work principle is not at all "anti-union." The Right to Work principle makes no judgment on whether workers should join/support a union for whatever reason. That is a decision best left up to the individual. The Right to Work principle is therefore anti-compulsory unionism and pro-freedom of choice.

Whether he knows it or not, Ewegan actually ends up highlighting an injustice flowing from forced unionism later in his column:

Amendment 27, the 2002 Colorado campaign finance law written by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, allows labor unions to contribute up to $4,000 to candidates to the legislature. Businesses and private citizens are limited to one-tenth as much as unions can contribute, no more than $400 per election season.

That's because Amendment 27 allows "small donor committees" to give politicians 10 times as much as any other person or group if they get only $50 or less per contributor. Unions are well positioned to exploit that loophole because, for example, the Colorado Association of Public Employees/Service Employees International Union, can deduct $4 a month from a member's $15 monthly dues for political purposes and count the resulting $48 a year as a "small donor" contribution from a member who may not even be aware that she made that particular "donation."

Let's sum up: Colorado law (1) limits the amount of money an individual person can choose to donate to a political campaign and (2) refuses individual employees the right to decide whether they want a union's "representation."

But when it comes to unions, Colorado law (1) allows unions to donate up to ten times as much as individuals to political campaigns and (2) grants union officials the government-backed coercive power to seize dues from individuals and divert them into the union's political agenda.

Ewegen also laments that Right to Work does not guarantee employment. That's true, and Right to Work doesn't guarantee rainbows or sunshine either, although it is worth pointing out that Right to Work laws certainly do help create jobs.

Next time, instead of shilling for Big Labor and complaining about Right to Work laws' lack of mystical powers, Ewegen should acknowledge the fact that compulsory unionism guarantees special privileges for Big Labor at the expense of individuals' freedom of association.

"Union Bosses of the World Unite!"

Last week, officials from the United Steelworkers union and "Unite the Union" -- among the largest unions in North America and the United Kingdom -- announced that they had signed an agreement to merge into a single, global union. From their joint press release:

Consistent with this calling, Workers Uniting will "match our words with action and resources, utilizing our collective expertise and knowledge through collective bargaining, organizing, global political action and international solidarity."

What might this "global political action" include? Among other activities... "Exposure to the political processes in each other's countries, including Democratic Party primaries and Labour Party conferences."

Initially, the two unions claim, "Workers Uniting" (though "Union Bosses Uniting" would be a more accurate name) will operate with a budget of several million dollars.

Of course, the press release fails to mention that the bulk of the budget will be funded by forced union dues from American workers who never asked for globalist union "representation" in the first place.

Debunking the Latest Card Check Myth

Karen Ackerman, the national political director for the AFL-CIO, recently had this nonsense to say about the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act:

"Of course, employers are not happy about it," Ackerman said of the legislation. "Of course, employers are going to call it undemocratic.

"But, in fact, if people want to be members of the Republican Party, they don't have to have a secret-ballot election. If folks want to join a church or be a member of a Boys Club, they don't have to have a secret election," she said.

The Employee Free Choice Act, she said, is "a way to even out the system."

What she doesn't want to acknowledge is that my political party or church does not have special coervice powers granted by the government to compel other people to accept its "representation" and even to join or pay dues.

Even secret ballot elections for union certification are far from fair. That's because if a union is voted in, it is awarded the power to be the "exclusive representative" of all members of the bargaining unit -- even those workers who do not want to join (or be "represented by") the union brass.

Opponents of Card Check Instant Organizing shouldn't only rely on appeals to "democracy" in the debate against union officials and union-backed politicians. A democratic election may seem a better alternative to union goons misleading or coercing workers into signing authorization cards -- but one should not overlook the link between card check and the greater evil of monopoly bargaining.

If Ackerman were to be honest, she would look at the flip side of her own example -- I may be free to donate money to the Republican party, but she is also free NOT to do so. A worker should be free to join or pay dues to a union, but a worker should also be free NOT to support a union -- or to be "represented" by a union.

As long as there is monopoly bargaining -- whether it is imposed through an NLRB-supervised election or the even more abusive card check process -- there can be no real employee free choice.

News Release

Construction Workers File Charges against Union after Hit with $16,000 Fines for Nonunion Work

Right to Work attorneys file federal unfair labor practice charges for workers punished by union officials for trying to make a living

Sedro-Woolley, Washington (July 10, 2008) – With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, two construction workers have filed unfair labor practice charges against the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302 union for exorbitant and illegal $16,000 fines levied against them in an internal union kangaroo court – even though the workers were allegedly never voluntary union members.

Shane Davis and Chad Aldridge filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against IUOE Local 302 after union bosses declared them “guilty” of refusing to give up employment at TriMaxx Construction, a contractor whose employees had voted against unionization. Late last year, union bosses learned that Davis and Aldridge were earning paychecks from the nonunion firm and demanded that they quit their jobs. In February, after Davis and Aldridge refused to put themselves in the unemployment line and resigned from the union, the union hierarchy held its “trial” and levied the confiscatory fines of $16,728.40 each.

In NLRB v. General Motors (1963) and Communications Workers v. Beck (1988), the United States Supreme Court ruled that unions may force workers to pay certain fees as a condition of employment, but workers have the right to refrain from formal union membership. Employees who exercise the right to refrain from union membership cannot be subjected to internal union discipline. Unions have an obligation to tell workers about their General Motors and Beck rights, which Local 302 never did.

Davis and Aldridge claim that as involuntary members, they cannot be lawfully subjected to internal union discipline. They also claim that union officials would not have imposed such severe fines had they not resigned from union “membership.” It is illegal for unions to fine workers as retaliation for resigning.

“Criminals convicted of misdemeanors in the state of Washington can be socked with $5,000 fines,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “It is unconscionable that Local 302 union bosses would slam Shane Davis and Chad Aldridge with fines greater than three times that amount just for trying to earn an honest living.”

The NLRB Regional Office in Seattle will now investigate the charges and decide whether to issue a formal complaint and prosecute the union before an administrative law judge.

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