Country Music Star Hits Union with Federal Charges

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Jason Fitz, of The Band Perry, has filed federal unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 247 union for illegally threatening he must pay fees to the union.

Fitz, who is the band manager and plays various instruments including the fiddle and keyboard, participated in studio sessions on April 12 and 13 at The House of Blues Studio in Nashville. Fitz has exercised his right to refrain from union membership, but the record label sent his paycheck to the union. Secretary-Treasurer of the Union, Vince Santoro, then sent Fitz a threatening email stating that his checks for work performed at The House of Blues would be withheld until he paid a “service fee” to the union.

This is blatantly illegal because Tennessee has had Right to Work protections for workers in place since 1947 ensuring that no worker can be required to join or pay dues or “fees” to a labor organization as a condition of employment. Charging a non-member a so-called “service fee” violates Section 8 (b) (1) (A) of the National Labor Relations Act as well as the Tennessee Right to Work law.

Hempstead Charter School Teachers Overcome Union Obstructionism to Force Vote to Remove Union from their School

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, 27 Evergreen Charter School employees have won the right to conduct a decertification election to decide the fate of the Evergreen Charter Staff Association-NYSUT union. The Regional Director for Region 29 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has scheduled the union decertification election for June 16, 2016.

Under the National Labor Relations Act, private-sector employees in unionized workplaces have the right to petition for a decertification election to remove a union. After 22 Evergreen employees signed and submitted an election petition to the NLRB in April, union officials attempted to head off the vote by claiming that Evergreen Charter School is a public employer, and thus outside the NLRB’s jurisdiction.

Union lawyers argued that the New York State Public Employment Relations Board has jurisdiction over Evergreen employees, an interpretation that was ultimately rejected by the NLRB, which determined that the Evergreen Charter School is a private employer. Had the union’s arguments prevailed, the school’s employees would have been forced to pursue a much more onerous and complex process to remove the unwanted union.

Wisconsin Union Officials Must Stop Illegally Seizing Union Fees, but Workers Still Waiting for Refunds

Recently, International Association of Machinists Lodge No. 1771 (IAM) union officials and Northern Engraving Corporation officials jointly distributed a letter to all Northern Engraving employees notifying workers that their attempts to resign union membership and stop union dues deductions from their paychecks would no longer be blocked or ignored. The letter, which came in response to NLRB charges filed by Northern Engraving employees, also stated that all wrongfully seized union dues would be refunded.

However, some workers still have not received refunds. On Monday, another worker, with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation-provided staff attorneys, filed new charges against the company and union officials.

Earlier this year Foundation-provided staff attorneys assisted multiple Northern Engraving Corporation employees in filing federal unfair labor practice charges against their employer and the IAM union local. According to the charges, union and company officials violated federal law by ignoring the workers’ attempts to resign from the union and stop paying union dues. Under Wisconsin’s recently-enacted Right to Work law, no employee can be forced to join or pay dues to a union to keep a job.

10 More Employees File Charges against Union Officials for Fining Them Up to Fifty Thousand Dollars for Defying Strike Order

With free legal assistance from Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, 10 more Northshore Sheet Metal employees have filed federal unfair labor practice charges against a local union for illegally fining them thousands of dollars after they refused to participate in a union-ordered strike. A total of 38 Northshore employees are now challenging the union’s strike fines with the help of Foundation staff attorneys.

All 10 employees originally joined the Sheet Metal Workers Local 66 union because they were wrongfully informed that union membership was a condition of employment at Northshore Sheet Metals. After union officials ordered a strike in August 2015, the employees learned that formal union membership is voluntary and decided to exercise their rights to resign from the union and refrain from participating in the work stoppage.

Although the employees formally resigned from the union, Local 66 officials refused to honor their resignations and subjected them to internal union disciplinary procedures for refusing to strike. The 10 workers were charged over five thousand dollars each for rebuffing the union’s strike order. Three of the employees were charged $55,000, $36,000, and $11,000, respectively. Moreover, Northshore Sheet Metal continues to deduct – and Local 66 continues to collect – money for a union “strike fund” from all 38 employees’ paychecks.

Under federal labor law, no employee can be required to formally join a union as a condition of employment. Employees also have the right to resign from a union at any time and cannot be subjected to internal union discipline for conduct after they have left the union. Local 66 union officials are now trying to collect over $267,000 in retaliatory fines from the 38 Foundation-assisted employees who continued working rather than give in to union officials’ demands that they abandon their jobs.

Michigan Teachers Union Hit with Charges for Forced Dues Demands in Violation of Right to Work Protections

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a public school teacher in Grand Rapids, Michigan has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) against the Grand Rapids Education Association (GREA) and the Michigan Education Association (MEA). The charge details how union officials violated Michigan’s public sector Right to Work law by illegally demanding compulsory union fees.

Becky Lapham is a teacher with Grand Rapids Public Schools and works at the Lincoln Developmental Center. When she resigned her membership with the GREA union, union officials informed Lapham that even as a nonmember she would be required to pay union fees until the existing monopoly bargaining agreement expired in 2015.

Once the preexisting monopoly bargaining agreement expired on June 30, 2015, Lapham became fully covered by Michigan’s public sector Right to Work law.

NRTW Foundation Announces West Virginia Task Force to Defend and Enforce Newest Right to Work Law

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced today the creation of a special task force to defend and enforce West Virginia’s newly-passed Right to Work law. Foundation staff attorneys will offer free legal advice and aid to Mountain State workers seeking to exercise their rights to refrain from union membership and union dues payment, guaranteed by the Right to Work law.

On Friday February 12, West Virginia legislators overrode Gov. Tomblin’s veto of Right to Work legislation, thereby making West Virginia the nation’s newest Right to Work state. Under the law – which applies to monopoly bargaining contracts entered into, modified, renewed or extended after July 1, 2016 - workers will no longer be required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment once any union monopoly bargaining agreement in effect on or before June 30, 2016, is modified, renewed or extended.

The NRTW Foundation has a long history of assisting employees seeking to exercise their Right to Work rights, most recently under Right to Work provisions enacted in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Foundation staff attorneys are prepared to defend the West Virginia Right to Work law from any spurious legal challenges brought by union officials. Big Labor, unwilling to give up their forced-dues powers, routinely challenges Right to Work laws in courts despite the fact that Right to Work laws have repeatedly been upheld.

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