Labor Board General Counsel gives OK to investigate and prosecute UNITE HERE union officials’ scheme that discriminates against non-union members
Las Vegas, NV (May 30, 2018) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has sustained an appeal by a Las Vegas bartender who filed charges for being fired as a result of a collusive agreement between her employer and the local union. Natalie Ruisi filed the charges and appealed with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
Ruisi worked at Aramark Sports and Entertainment Services, a subcontractor for Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino. She, as well as several other Aramark employees, was discharged because she did not meet Monte Carlo’s requirement to pass a craft examination offered solely through the company union, Local Joint Executive Board of Las Vegas affiliated with UNITE HERE International (UNITE HERE).
Ruisi claims that the contract between Monte Carlo and UNITE HERE violates the National Labor Relations Act by requiring employees, including those who work for subcontractors, to take pre-hire classes from the union as a condition of employment. She alleges that the requirement unfairly discriminates and encourages membership in a labor organization.
In 2013, Monte Carlo and UNITE HERE entered into a monopoly bargaining agreement that her NLRB charges say illegally discriminated against workers who chose to exercise their right to refrain from formal union membership. The discrimination included requiring bartenders, even those who work for a subcontractor, to pass a craft examination that could only be obtained through union officials in order to acquire a “pour card” to work.
When Monte Carlo subcontracted to Aramark, UNITE HERE officials demanded that Monte Carlo discharge all Aramark employees who had not passed the union’s craft examination. Ruisi and 15 other employees, who as nonmembers did not know about the requirement until after they were hired, were discharged.
Although the NLRB Regional Director scheduled a trial with the intention of prosecuting the violation, at the last minute the charge was unexpectedly dismissed. Foundation staff attorneys appealed, and Trump-appointed NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb ruled that the Regional Director should investigate the case for violations of the National Labor Relations Act. The case has been remanded to the Regional Director for further action.
Nevada is a Right to Work state, with laws that protect individual workers’ rights to choose whether or not to join a union and pay union dues. Additionally, the National Labor Relations Act protects workers’ choice to refrain from union activities and prohibits employers from interfering with or coercing employees in violation of their rights.
“Ruisi is fighting for her right to choose whether or not to associate with a union – a right that, in addition to her rights under federal labor law, is codified and protected by Nevada’s Right to Work law,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Unfortunately, this type of illegal union scheme is widespread in Las Vegas, which is why this successful appeal is so important.”
“Other Las Vegas service industry workers facing similar situations should know that they can contact the National Right to Work Foundation to request free legal assistance,” added Mix.
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, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.