SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (June 28, 2001) — Utilizing free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, several state employees intervened today to defend Utah’s Voluntary Contributions Act, a recently enacted measure that requires union officials to obtain union members’ permission before spending their dues for political activities.
Claiming that the law’s requirements infringe the unions’ freedom of association rights, the Utah AFL-CIO and the state’s biggest government unions had filed suit in April to overturn the new law as unconstitutional. The employees filing the countersuit today in the Third District Court in Salt Lake County seek to defend the statute and their constitutional rights.
The employees argue that without rights granted under the Voluntary Contributions Act, employees must give up their workplace voice in order to exercise their political freedom. That’s because state law grants union officials the exclusive right to negotiate contracts on behalf of employees. Only union members are allowed a voice about workplace issues that control the terms of their employment.
Therefore, the employees argue, the court should uphold the Voluntary Contributions Act as constitutional. If it does not, then the court must declare that the state’s monopoly bargaining law is unconstitutional.
“Union officials want it both ways. They jealously guard their many government-granted privileges while opposing all measures to protect individual employees from the adverse consequences,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an organization that provides free legal aid to victims of compulsory unionism abuse.
The individual employees ask the court to declare that the Voluntary Contributions Act is constitutional because they have a constitutional right to withhold dues spent for political and ideological activities. Additionally, they ask the court to declare they have a right to full financial disclosure revealing how the union spends employees’ dues money.
The employees intervening in the case are teachers Christy Morris, John Clark, Wendy Solomon, and Nancy Granducci, firefighter Robert Miles, and school technical advisor Joe Granducci.
STANFORD, Calif. (June 28, 2001) — A Stanford Hospital nurse today filed federal charges against a local nursing union after its officials illegally demanded that she pay a fine for refusing to abandon critically ill patients during a recent strike.
With the help of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, Barbara Williams, a nurse at Stanford Hospital and Clinic, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement (CRONA) union.
“This union harassment of a loyal nurse for standing by her patients is outrageous,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Foundation. “The union must now be held to account.”
In April of this year, union officials imposed an illegal fine of $2,500 on Williams for exercising her Right to Work during a June 2000 strike. Williams, who refused to take part in a walkout which left patients unattended, cannot be subject to union fines or “discipline” because she is not a union member.
Since the strike, Williams has been subject to threats and continual harassment from striking nurses.
The charges also state that union officials have been unlawfully seizing full union dues from Williams since 1988. The union’s dues-collection practices violate the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decision Communications Workers v. Beck, which held that workers may resign their union memberships and pay a reduced fee representing only the union’s proven collective bargaining costs.
CRONA officials never notified Williams of her Beck rights and continue to demand that she fork over an amount equal to full union dues. CRONA officials have also failed to provide Williams with any breakdown of their fees or an audit of union finances, in violation of disclosure requirements established under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson decision.
Foundation attorneys are demanding that CRONA officials halt their practice of collecting full union dues from nonmembers, provide proper financial disclosure to employees, and rescind the fine illegally imposed on Williams for refusing to walk out on Stanford’s patients.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 28, 2001) — National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys today filed a “Friend of the Court” brief in federal court in response to a lawsuit filed by union lawyers to stop employees from finding out about their right to reclaim their forced union dues spent for politics.
Foundation attorneys filed the Amicus Brief on behalf of union-abused workers after the United Auto Workers (UAW) lawyers filed the lawsuit to stop the Bush Administration from enforcing Executive Order 13201, which simply requires federal contractors to post a standard workplace notice informing employees of their rights under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Communications Workers v. Beck. Beck, a case won by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys in 1988, established that employees cannot be compelled to formally join a union or pay dues spent for politics or any other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
UAW lawyers ironically complained that President George W. Bush’s executive order imposes “substantial administrative burdens” on businesses.
The UAW union, along with the UAW-Labor Employment and Training Corporation and two affiliates of the Office and Professional Employees International Union, quietly filed the lawsuit last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and several other high-ranking Administration officials.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (June 27, 2001) — A dozen hospital employees at Youngstown’s St. Elizabeth Health Center today filed federal charges against officials of the Teamsters Local 377 union for refusing to accept their resignations and for failing to properly notify them of their right to pay less than full union dues.
The employees filed the unfair labor practice charges with the assistance of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys on behalf of all bargaining unit employees with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
“Teamsters officers are shaking down these employees simply because they exercised their right not to support the union,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal aid to victims of compulsory unionism abuse.
Officials of the Youngstown-based union refused to accept employees’ written resignations from union membership and told employees that they must pay all “back dues” before the union would even consider their resignations. The charges also state that Local Teamsters union officials used payroll deductions to collect alleged “preexisting debt arrearages” that the union could not lawfully obligate the workers to pay under its forced unionism clause.
Under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision, workers may resign from union membership at any time and pay only for the union’s proven collective bargaining costs.
Foundation attorneys are demanding that all illegally seized forced union dues be returned to the employees and that Teamsters Local 377 officials notify all St. Elizabeth employees of their rights.
New York, N.Y. (June 25, 2001) — Former “Brady Bunch” star Barry Williams today filed federal unfair labor practice charges against Actors Equity Association (AEA) union officials for illegally fining him $52,000 after he resigned from the union to star in a non-Equity production of “The Sound of Music.”
Williams, with the assistance of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in New York because AEA union officials failed to inform him of his right to not join the union and imposed an exorbitant fine.
Last year, union officials launched a nationwide media campaign to smear Williams in each city in which the production appeared. As part of that campaign, union militants picketed outside theaters during the musical, carrying signs and handing out fliers proclaiming “Greg Brady is a Scab” while chanting slogans such as “who let the scabs out.”
“In an attempt to make actors think twice about exercising their rights, AEA union bullies are making an example of Barry Williams,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Foundation.
AEA union officials illegally enforced so-called union “discipline” against Williams, claiming that he violated AEA union bylaws by appearing in a production that had not agreed to force employees to work under union contract.
Williams cannot be lawfully fined because he resigned his AEA union membership (and thereby was no longer subject to union rules) before signing a contract to work on the production — his right under the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Patternmakers v. NLRB. In Patternmakers, the High Court ruled workers may resign their full, formal union membership immediately and without restrictions or retaliation. Once an employee becomes a non-member, union officials have no legal basis for enforcing union “discipline.”
Foundation attorneys are seeking an order that the fine is unenforceable and that the union retract it.
Williams gained fame as Greg Brady, the oldest son on the 70’s television show “The Brady Bunch.” Subsequently he has starred in more than 50 stage productions including “Victor Victoria,” “The Music Man,” “Romance/Romance,” “Man of LaMancha,” “Guys and Dolls,” and “City of Angels.” He wrote the best-selling book “Growing Up Brady,” which he recently produced as a movie for NBC. Additionally, Williams headlines in various venues in Las Vegas, for corporations, and on cruise lines.
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (June 11, 2001) — With assistance from a national legal aid foundation, a Culligan Water Conditioning employee today filed federal charges against the Saint Louis-based Teamsters Local 610. The union’s officials have been illegally attempting to have the worker fired from his job for withholding union dues spent on politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys filed the unfair labor practice charges on behalf of Pete Lenhardt with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) charging that union officials illegally demanded that Culligan discharge Lenhardt for not paying full union dues, even though he became a nonmember of the union.
The union’s threats and demands violated the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision, which holds that workers may resign from union membership and pay only for the union’s proven collective bargaining costs.
“Teamsters union officials must be held to account for bullying employees who do not support the union,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal aid to victims of forced unionism abuse.
Before ordering his termination, Teamsters Local 610 officials had been unlawfully seizing full union dues from Lenhardt and other Culligan employees and demanding so-called “initiation fees” equal to the full amount paid by union members without notifying employees of their right to object to union membership and the payment of full dues.
In response to the Foundation-filed charge, Culligan notified Lenhardt that they would not dismiss him while his charge was before the NLRB. Foundation attorneys are also demanding that the union notify all bargaining unit employees of their rights.
Washington, D.C. (June 5, 2001) — Ironically complaining that President George W. Bush’s executive order imposes “substantial administrative burdens” on businesses, three unions and a federally funded union-established corporation filed suit against the Bush Administration. The suit seeks to prevent unionized employees of federal contractors from learning about their rights to be nonmembers and reclaim their forced union dues spent for politics.
The suit is likely to raise many eyebrows, as the same unions that have long claimed to be defenders of workplace rights are now suing to prevent employees from learning about workplace rights.
Executive Order 13201 simply requires federal contractors to post a standard workplace notice informing employees of their rights under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Communications Workers v. Beck, a case won by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys in 1988 establishing that employees cannot be compelled to formally join a union or pay dues spent for politics or any other activities unrelated to collective bargaining. Because of unions’ routine and systematic non-compliance with the law, a vast majority of unionized employees still do not know they have these rights, polls show.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union, along with the UAW-Labor Employment and Training Corporation and two affiliates of the Office and Professional Employees International Union, quietly filed the suit last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and several other high-ranking Administration officials.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys are preparing to intervene in defense of the executive order on behalf of workers who have been lied to about their rights or outright threatened by union officials (including UAW officials) when they tried to reclaim their forced dues spent on electioneering and the like.
“Afraid that they would face a grassroots revolt, union bosses don’t want working Americans to find out that they can stop funding Big Labor’s massive political machine,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “This multi-union lawsuit demonstrates the total hypocrisy of union officials’ claims that they are genuinely concerned about employee rights.”
Signed on February 17, 2001, the executive order affects a small segment of the 12 million American employees compelled to pay union dues as a condition of employment, as it only requires companies with federal contracts to inform workers of their Beck rights by posting workplace notices. Bush’s father issued a similar executive order in April of 1992 that was immediately revoked at the request of union officials as President Clinton took office in 1993. Additionally, the Clinton National Labor Relations Board stonewalled the enforcement of these precious employee protections, often leaving many cases languishing within the bureaucracy for six or more years.
Brainerd, Minn. (May 31, 2001) — In a 66 to 28 vote, employees at Bang Printing stripped the Graphic Communications International Union Upper Midwest Local 1-M of the power to get employees fired for refusing to financially support the union as non-members.
Carole Kraklau and other employees received free legal advice from attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requesting that the deauthorization election be conducted. The results of that vote were announced today.
The decisive vote ends the union’s power to force workers to pay union dues, much of which is spent for politics, lobbying, social activities, and other activities claimed to be related to “representing” the employees. Employees who refused to pay the dues were threatened with discharge.
“This landslide victory shows that when employees are given the opportunity to decide how much power union officials have over them, they choose freedom,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
By deauthorizing the union in the NLRB election, employees are now free to decide for themselves whether to join or financially support the union. The union is now forced to justify to individual employees why it deserves the support of the rank-and-file workers.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 30, 2001) — The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced that approximately 71,000 communications workers are today being offered an opportunity to reclaim approximately $70 million in forced union dues illegally seized over nine years by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union for politics.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia forced CWA union officials to mail the rebate notice pursuant to the 1998 Foundation-won Abrams v. CWA ruling. In Abrams, the court found that union officials broke the law by failing to give workers lawful notice of their right to object to payment of full union dues, including dues spent for partisan political activities.
In the Foundation’s landmark case CWA v. Beck (1988), the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that no worker could be lawfully forced to become a formal, full-dues-paying union member and pay for any activities unrelated to collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment.
“CWA union officials should never have taken this money in the first place,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “Now they must return millions of dollars.”
The union must allow workers 30 days to retroactively request refunds, plus interest, for all dues between 1987 and 1995 that were used for purposes, such as politics, other than collective bargaining. Workers who think they might be eligible for the refund should contact the Foundation at 1-888-789-4255.
The CWA union’s disclosure over those years admitted that around 25 percent of full dues were not used for collective bargaining. This portion amounts to – on average – about $100 per worker, per year, before interest. Thus, many of the affected workers may be eligible for rebates up to as much as $900 for the full nine years. The court also ordered union officials to pay some 120,000 workers more than $500,000 in damages.
Kenneth Abrams and three other workers at Bell Systems-affiliated companies from Maryland and New Jersey originally filed the suit in 1987 in opposition to the union’s financing of its political agenda.
Largo, Maryland (May 17, 2001) — Denise Mack has filed a federal unfair labor practice charge against local union officials for demanding that she be fired for refusing to give in to their illegal demands for more than $1,000 in forced union dues.
Last month, Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), Local 2 officials ordered Mack to pay what they called “back dues” for a two-year period in which she worked at a Kaiser Permanente Medical Group office in Virginia. But under Virginia’s Right to Work law, there was no requirement that Mack, who was not a member of the union, pay any union dues during that period.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys filed the charges on behalf of Mack, now employed at Kaiser Permanente’s Largo, Maryland, office, with the National Labor Relations Board against the OPEIU Local 2.
“This is a flagrant attempt by union officials to swindle Mack and skirt Virginia’s highly popular Right to Work law,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “It’s also obviously designed to send a message to Kaiser Permanente employees in Virginia – ‘pay up now, or we’ll get the money from you when you’re transferred to Maryland.'”
The OPEIU Local 2 union has “exclusive representation” power over Kaiser Permanente’s Virginia and Maryland employees. Last December, Mack was transferred to Maryland where union officials began demanding forced union dues from her paycheck. Maryland is not a Right to Work state. On April 18, an OPEIU Local 2 union official sent Mack a letter demanding that she pay a total of $1,153.04 in reinstatement fees and “back union dues” from February 1998 – February 2000, a time period in which she worked in Virginia, or be fired.
Foundation attorneys are seeking an immediate injunction to stop OPEIU Local 2 union officials from seizing any dues or from having Mack fired. They are also seeking to force the union to return any forced dues seized as a result of their illegal threats and to have union officials held in contempt for violating an earlier NLRB judgment against them.