National Right to Work Foundation Blasts FLRA Ruling Trapping Blue Ridge Parkway Employees in Union
FLRA merged two work units at union officials’ behest with no worker input, now cites merger to deny worker request for vote to remove union
Washington, DC (June 6, 2023) – The National Right to Work Foundation today blasted a Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) ruling barring a group of National Park Service (NPS) employees from exercising their right to vote American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union officials out of power at their workplace. The FLRA dubiously cited its top-down “merger” of two preexisting work units of NPS employees into one unit as a reason for why the vote shouldn’t proceed.
The affected employees are Blue Ridge Parkway employee Lauren Labrie and her coworkers, who in 2021 backed a petition with enough employee support to prompt the FLRA to hold an election on whether to oust AFGE union officials. Labrie and her colleagues are receiving free legal aid from the Foundation.
National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix criticized the FLRA’s ruling:
“The Biden FLRA has abandoned all pretense of defending employees’ right to freely choose who will speak for them in the workplace with this ruling. Instead of just allowing Blue Ridge Parkway workers to vote on whether they support AFGE, the FLRA has effectively announced to all federal employees that agency bureaucrats can shield union bosses from workers’ will by merging multiple units of employees.
“This is another attempt by Biden Administration officials to expand the influence and power of their political allies within federal and other government unions, all to the detriment of rank-and-file workers who want to exercise their individual rights. Every individual worker should get to decide for him or herself whether or not to affiliate with a union – not have federal bureaucrats thrust union bosses’ so-called ‘representation’ on them against their will, and without even the ability to hold a prompt vote to remove an unwanted union.”
FLRA “Consolidated” Units at Union Behest, Then Stopped Workers from Voting on Union
AFGE union officials petitioned to consolidate Labrie’s work unit and another unit of NPS employees in 2021. A regional FLRA official approved the move in September 2021, without giving employees an opportunity to vote on whether they actually wanted the merger.
Labrie and her coworkers submitted their petition to decertify the union in December 2021. A regional FLRA official dismissed the petition in March 2022, claiming it was blocked by a 12-month “certification bar” stemming from the top-down consolidation of the work units, and that the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute permits such a restriction.
Park Employee’s Brief: Blocking Election Stifles Employees’ Free Choice Rights
After requesting review from the FLRA in Washington, Foundation attorneys argued in a brief that applying a bar to employee-requested elections after agency-imposed unit consolidations violates federal employees’ free choice rights, which the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute was meant to protect.
“In passing the Statute, Congress’ intent was to promote secret ballot elections and employees’ freedom to choose their representative under the Statute,” the brief said. “Not allowing employees to exercise their free choice because the Authority administratively combined two bargaining units undermines Congress’ goal of promoting the right of employees to select their own agent.”
Despite there being no precedent or statutory authorization for blocking employee-requested decertification elections after a top-down unit consolidation, the FLRA in Washington issued a May 2023 decision relying on its own “discretion to regulate representation proceedings” and ruled that a “certification bar” blocked Labrie and her coworkers’ requested vote.
National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys are determining the next steps for Labrie and her coworkers. While, according to the FLRA, Labrie and her coworkers can currently be forced to accept the “representation” of AFGE officials, they and all public sector American employees have a First Amendment right under the Foundation-won 2018 Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision to cut off financial support to a union they oppose.
CUNY Professors’ Lawsuit Challenging Forced Association with Antisemitism-Linked Union Continues at Second Circuit
City University professors challenge NY law that forces them to be represented by hostile union hierarchy
New York, NY (June 5, 2023) – Six City University of New York (CUNY) professors have taken their federal civil rights lawsuit against Professional Staff Congress (PSC) union officials to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The professors, Avraham Goldstein, Michael Goldstein, Frimette Kass-Shraibman, Mitchell Langbert, Jeffrey Lax, and Maria Pagano, charge PSC union bosses with violating the First Amendment by forcing them to accept the union’s monopoly control and “representation” – “representation” the professors not only oppose, but find extremely offensive and in contradiction to their personal beliefs.
The professors, five of whom are Jewish, are receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation and The Fairness Center. They seek to overturn New York State’s “Taylor Law,” which grants public sector union bosses the power to speak and contract for workers, including those that want nothing to do with the union. In addition to opposing the union’s extreme ideology, the professors oppose being forced into a “bargaining unit” of instructional staff who share the union’s beliefs or have employment interests diverging from their own.
The professors’ opening brief at the Second Circuit argues that a lower court’s reliance on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1984 decision in Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges v. Knight was misguided. Knight, the brief states, dealt primarily with public employees’ ability to participate in union meetings and not with the professors’ legal argument that being forced to accept the bargaining power and “representation” of union officials is a violation of First Amendment free association rights.
The brief also maintains that the Supreme Court in the 2018 Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision acknowledged that public sector monopoly bargaining is “a significant impingement on associational freedoms.” Other Supreme Court decisions as early as 1944 also recognized problems with monopoly bargaining, the brief notes, including the Steele v. Louisville & Nashville Railway Co. decision, in which African-American railway workers challenged a rail union’s racially discriminatory hiring and promotion policies.
“If the First Amendment prohibits anything, it prohibits the government from dictating who speaks for citizens in their relations with the government,” reads the brief. “The State Appellees and CUNY thus necessarily infringe on the Professors’ speech and associational rights by forcing them to accept a hostile political group, which they view as anti-Semitic, as their exclusive agent for speaking and contracting with their government employer.”
Lawsuit: Professors Compelled to Associate with Union Even After Bullying and Threats
The professors’ original complaint recounted that several of the professors chose to dissociate from PSC based on a June 2021 union resolution that they viewed as “anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish, and anti-Israel,” and a host of other discriminatory actions perpetrated by union agents and adherents.
The complaint said Prof. Michael Goldstein “experienced anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist attacks from members of PSC, including what he sees as bullying, harassment, destruction of property, calls for him to be fired, organization of student attacks against him, and threats against him and his family.” Goldstein has needed a guard to accompany him on campus, the complaint noted.
Prof. Lax, the complaint explained, already received in a separate case a letter of determination from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) “that CUNY and PSC leaders discriminated against him, retaliated against him, and subjected him to a hostile work environment on the basis of religion.” Prof. Lax “has felt marginalized and ostracized by PSC because the union has made it clear that Jews who support the Jewish homeland, the State of Israel, are not welcome,” said the complaint.
Suit Seeks Overturn of New York State Law Forcing Union Power on Professors & Damages
The lawsuit seeks to stop the defendants from “certifying or recognizing PSC, or any other union, as Plaintiffs’ exclusive representative without their consent” and “enforcing any provisions…that require Plaintiffs to provide financial support to PSC.” It also demands that the court declare “Section 204 of the Taylor Law…unconstitutional under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to the extent that it requires or authorizes PSC to be Plaintiffs’ exclusive representative…”
“No American worker should be forced to associate with union officials and union members that openly denigrate their identities and deeply-held beliefs,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Yet, New York State’s Taylor Law grants union officials the power to force dissenting workers under the ‘exclusive representation’ of a union hierarchy. As these CUNY professors have experienced, granting union officials the power to nullify public employees’ free association rights in this way breeds serious harm and discord among employees.”
“Not just in Janus v. AFSCME, but in decisions going back decades, the Supreme Court has questioned the constitutionality of union monopoly bargaining,” Mix added. “Federal courts must take action to ensure that government employees can freely exercise their right to dissociate from an unwanted union for religious, cultural, financial, or any other reasons.”
“Our clients want to vindicate their First Amendment rights and win their independence from a union they believe hates them,” commented Fairness Center President and General Counsel Nathan McGrath. “If successful, their lawsuit could transform the relationship between public-sector unions and employees in New York and, potentially, beyond.”
Starbucks Worker’s Brief: Proceed with Vote to Remove Union Opposed by Majority of Workers
Labor Board asked to reject union-backed move to disenfranchise majority of workers who petitioned for decertification election
New York, NY (June 2, 2023) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have filed a brief with National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 2 asking the NLRB not to dismiss the worker-led decertification effort. The brief is part of the case that began when Manhattan Starbucks Roastery worker Kevin Caesar filed a decertification petition with the NLRB seeking a secret-ballot election to end union officials’ so-called “representation.”
Caesar’s petition, which was filed on May 9, has the support of a majority of his coworkers who want to remove Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) from their workplace. Caesar is receiving free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
“We have seen our workplace both with and without the union. We believe that the union is looking out for itself more than it is looking out for Starbucks partners, who do not want forced dues and can advocate for ourselves. That is why a majority of us have decided we would be better off without the union. The fact that the union officials have forced us to go through this decertification process despite the majority of workers stating they do not want to be represented by this union shows how little regard the union has for the will of the workers. We call on union officials to respect our rights and not attempt to fight this vote,” stated Caesar.
Under federal law, workers can trigger an NLRB-supervised decertification election with the signatures of 30% or more of the employees in a workplace. Caesar and his Roastery co-workers’ petition meets the criteria.
However, on May 18, 2023, NLRB Region 2 officials ordered each party to file briefs to determine whether or not to process the decertification petition by the Starbucks Roastery employees. The order suggests that unfair labor practice charge allegations filed by Workers United, an affiliate of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), could stop the petition from being processed. Such claims are often filed with the purpose of completely derailing employee decertification efforts, like the one taking place at the Starbucks Roastery.
In response to this order, Caesar’s Foundation staff attorneys filed a brief, emphasizing the wishes of the employees to continue with the decertification process and the importance of not trapping workers under monopoly union representation that lacks the support of a majority of the workers. This is a fundamental principle of the National Labor Relations Act that the NLRB is charged with enforcing.
“The policy of the Act is not to promote unionism per se; rather, it is to protect employees in their choice of representative,” the brief states. “Dismissing the decertification petition would disregard Petitioner’s and his colleagues protected statutory right to not associate with a union and benefit the Union at the expense of employee rights. Petitioner’s efforts to collect signatures and secure the backing of a majority of his colleagues on his showing of interest should not be so easily disregarded.”
The filing also describes the workers’ reasoning for wanting to exercise their right to remove the union: “Caesar filed a petition to decertify the Union. His petition was supported by a showing of interest indicating a majority of employees no longer want Union representation. Caesar does want to be represented by the Union because, in his opinion, the Union is self-interested, divisive, and unfocused on New York Roastery employees. He does not want to be forced to pay dues and prefers to advocate for himself, rather than have a third party do so.”
The decertification petition at Starbucks Roastery is just the latest employee decertification effort at Starbucks. In just two weeks, three different Starbucks locations in New York filed decertification petitions. Foundation staff attorneys also represent the petitioner in the Buffalo case.
The Foundation has also issued a legal notice to all Starbucks employees, offering free legal aid to any worker who may be interested in decertifying SBWU at their workplace and informs them of their rights in the workplace.
“If union officials cared about the actual wishes of rank-and-file Starbucks Roastery team members they would not be seeking to disenfranchise them by stopping a vote from taking place,” commented National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “The workers who oppose the union did nothing wrong, and the NLRB should reject attempts to strip them of their right to vote the union out.”
Foundation Issues Statement on Glacier Northwest SCOTUS Decision
The Supreme Court of the United States has just ruled that union bosses who orchestrate property damage as part of a strike order aren’t immune to liability in state court.
In Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 174, an 8-1 SCOTUS majority rejected Teamsters officials’ argument that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prevented Glacier Northwest, a Washington State-based concrete company, from suing the union in state court for ordering cement truck drivers to abandon their trucks and leave copious amounts of cement spoiled and completely unusable.
National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix issued the following statement on the ruling:
The Supreme Court correctly ruled that union officials should not be granted immunity from state lawsuits over deliberate property damage perpetrated during union strike actions. The issue in Glacier Northwest, however, represents only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to union bosses’ special legal privileges – especially concerning the powers union officials have over rank-and-file workers.
As the Foundation noted in its amicus brief in the case, beyond the issue of deliberate property damage, union officials have vast special powers and immunities that no other private entity or individual enjoys. This long list includes not only forcing workers under union ‘representation’ they oppose and then extorting workers to pay union fees or else be fired, but also a court-created exemption from federal prosecution for extortionate violence if it is pursued for so-called ‘legitimate union objectives.’
Ultimately, this case shows how far courts and lawmakers have to go in order to level the playing field and stop allowing union bosses to play by a different set of rules from those that apply to all other citizens and private entities.
The Foundation’s amicus brief in Glacier Northwest can be viewed here. Mark also penned an op-ed for Fox News explaining the breadth and depth of union boss legal privileges.
National Right to Work Foundation Issues Legal Notice to Starbucks Employees as Multiple Locations Seek to Boot Unions
Notice contains details on how employees can petition for union decertification vote, as well as how to resign membership and cut off dues
Washington, DC (May 23, 2023) – After being in contact with multiple Starbucks workers, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation today issued a special legal notice to Starbucks employees who are interested in removing union control in their workplace. The legal notice is available at the Foundation’s website here: https://www.nrtw.org/starbucks/.
The Right to Work Foundation is the nation’s premier organization dedicated to defending workers whose rights have been violated by forced unionism abuses. Foundation staff attorneys are already assisting Starbucks employees at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Manhattan, NY, in exercising their right to vote unwanted union officials out of their store, and similar efforts are taking place at Starbucks locations in Buffalo, NY, and Rochester, NY. At the New York Roastery location, a majority of the employees signed the petition asking for a vote to remove the union.
“The Foundation wants you to learn about your legal rights from independent sources,” the notice says. “You should not rely on what self-interested union officials tell you.”
In Addition to Seeking to Vote Out Union, Employees Can Take Individual Steps to Resist Union Activity
The legal notice advises Starbucks workers of their right to petition the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote among employees on whether a resident union should be ousted from the workplace, a process known as a decertification vote. However, it cautions workers that this process is complex and prone to manipulation from union officials, and for that reason workers should consider obtaining Foundation legal aid in navigating the process.
The notice also advises employees of actions they can take as individuals to disaffiliate from the union, including how to exercise their right to resign union membership, revoke cards authorizing direct union dues deductions, and potentially stop funding union activities. The notice provides sample letters to workers interested in exercising those rights.
“If you work in a state that lacks Right to Work protections, union officials with a monopoly bargaining agreement can unfortunately force you to pay some union fees in order to keep your job. However, there are still limitations on how much and under what circumstances you can legally be required to pay,” the notice reads, while counseling such workers of their right to cut off dues payments for union politics as per the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision. “If you work in a state with Right to Work protections, you have a right to opt-out of all union financial support.”
“As many Starbucks locations pass the one-year anniversary of unionization, Starbucks employees are now able to hold votes to remove the union, a right many are now seeking to exercise,” commented National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “No one who claims to be pro-worker should oppose simply letting these workers hold a secret ballot vote to determine if they oppose union affiliation.”
“Unfortunately, between union officials who prioritize their own power over the wishes of rank-and-file workers, and an NLRB that is actively seeking to make it harder for workers to even hold decertification votes, it is more important than ever that workers fully understand these legal issues,” Mix added. “That’s why workers should carefully read our legal notice and know that they can request free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation for help in protecting their legal rights.”
National Right to Work Foundation Attorney Testifies Before Congress, Spotlighting NLRB Push for Coercive ‘Card Check’
Experienced worker attorney blasts NLRB effort to rewrite the law to eliminate secret ballot votes & trap workers in unions they oppose
Washington, D.C. (May 23, 2023) – Today, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney Aaron Solem will testify in front of the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions chaired by Representative Bob Good. Solem’s testimony will highlight the growing issues with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and how the current NLRB and NLRB General Counsel are undermining the rights of workers in order to grant union bosses more coercive power.
Solem’s testimony emphasizes a growing number of NLRB failures to protect employees’ rights in the workplace, including General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo’s plan to eliminate secret ballot elections and mandate unionization based on coercive “card check.” Solem’s testimony also blasts the NLRB for attempting to repeal restrictions which make it easier for union officials to file “blocking charges,” which can delay or block decertification elections no matter how many workers have signed a petition requesting a vote and opposes the union’s so-called “representation”:
“NLRB General Counsel Abruzzo, the Biden-appointed majority on the NLRB, and even some in this Congress are attempting to undermine employee free choice by ending or limiting the secret ballot. General Counsel Abruzzo is seeking to virtually end secret ballot elections and mandate unreliable, undemocratic union card checks as the primary method of union selection. The Board is also making it harder to oust a minority union by bringing back the disreputed and heavily criticized ‘blocking charge’ policy. This policy will make it harder for individual employees to decertify unwanted unions through secret ballot elections, even if 100% of the employees no longer wish to be represented.”
After highlighting the egregious dissolution of employee rights happening under Abruzzo and the Biden Administration, Solem suggested some reforms Congress could make to strengthen the freedoms of rank-and-file workers, including those he represents in cases before the NLRB:
“Rather than ratify the Board and General Counsel’s attempts to undermine secret ballot elections and entrench unpopular unions, this Committee should look to other solutions. Those solutions should grant employees more choices—ideally, the choice not to be forced to pay dues to a union. At the very least, the solution should guarantee employees a right to vote in a secret ballot election. These are far better solutions than the divisive policies being pursued by the Biden Administration and its politically-motivated appointees to the Board.”
Solem testified alongside former NLRB Member Phil Miscimarra, small business owner Cecil Leedy, and forced union dues-funded CWA lawyer Angela Thompson.
“Union bosses should not be given the power to force workers under their so-called ‘representation’ without even a secret ballot election,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “More scrutiny is needed of the Biden NLRB, which time after time seems to be acting like taxpayer-funded organizing for Big Labor, rather than a neutral arbiter of a law that is supposed to protect the legal rights of workers who are opposed to unionization.”
PHL Guava & Java Employees Overcome ‘Widespread Union Intimidation Campaign,’ Vote Out Union
Guava & Java workers in the Philadelphia Airport vote overwhelmingly to remove union despite reported intimidation campaign by union agents
Philadelphia, PA (May 22, 2023) – Workers at the Guava & Java store in the Philadelphia Airport have voted to remove the UNITE HERE Local 274 union by an overwhelming majority. The vote follows a petition submitted by Guava & Java employee Shaneisha Brown with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Brown is receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Brown filed the petition with the NLRB on March 30, 2023, with a significant number of her coworkers’ support. After the petition was filed and verified, the NLRB scheduled the election to be held on May 11.
With an overwhelming majority of 32-9, the workers at Guava & Java voted to remove UNITE HERE Local 274 from their workplace. In doing so, they overcame a union campaign that, according to employee reports, included electioneering tactics that violated longstanding NLRB rules. The union filed no objections to the result by the May 18 deadline, and the workers are now officially union-free.
The workers at Guava & Java are the latest of many workers to be dissatisfied with union coercion. Currently, the NLRB’s data shows a unionized private sector worker is far more likely to be involved in a decertification effort than their nonunion counterpart is to be involved in a unionization campaign. NLRB statistics also show a 20% increase in decertification petitions last year versus 2021.
“We are extremely pleased to assist the Guava & Java workers in exercising their rights to remove an unwanted union from their workplace,” stated Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “We are appalled, however, by the reports of heavy-handed union tactics on election day. The Foundation will continue to assist workers who wish to decertify unwanted unions, no matter what prohibited conduct union officials may attempt to engage in while trying to dissuade employees from voting out a union they oppose. We encourage all employees at the Philadelphia International Airport who have questions about decertification elections to contact the Foundation.”
Grand Rapids TerryBerry Workers Vote to Remove Unwanted Machinists Union from Workplace
Once final, vote to boot IAM union officials strips union of ability to impose forced dues in wake of Right to Work repeal legislation
Grand Rapids, MI (May 16, 2023) – Workers at the TerryBerry Company in Michigan recently voted to remove International Association of Machinist of Aerospace Engineers (IAM) District Lodge 60/Local Lodge 475 union officials’ forced representation powers. A petition filed by Mary Soltysiak with the National Labor Relations Board Region 7 (NLRB) led to this successful vote. Soltysiak received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Mary Soltysiak and her coworkers at TerryBerry Company filed for a decertification vote on April 14, 2023, with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys. Her decertification petition contained signatures of a majority of the employees in the unit. Soltysiak has been under the protections of the Michigan Right to Work law since 2018.
Under federal labor law, workers can trigger such a decertification vote with the support of 30% of workers in a unionized workplace. The NLRB should then promptly schedule a secret ballot election to determine whether a majority of workers want to end union officials’ power to impose a contract, including forced dues, on workers. The NLRB scheduled a vote for May 15, 2023.
On May 15, TerryBerry employees made their position on the union clear, voting to remove the union from their workplace. Barring any objections by union officials that seek to overturn the vote, the workers will be officially free of the union in one week.
The workers’ decertification petition comes in the wake of Michigan legislators ramming through a bill to repeal their state’s decade-old and highly popular Right to Work law. When the repeal law takes effect, union officials will once again have the power to force workers to pay up or be fired in workplaces where the union has forced “representation” powers. Luckily for Soltysiak and her coworkers, however, due to the successful decertification vote they will continue to be free of union coercion.
The TerryBerry decertification is one example of growing distrust in unionization, especially in Michigan. Currently, the NLRB’s data shows a unionized private sector worker is far more likely to be involved in a decertification effort as their nonunion counterpart is to be involved in a unionization campaign. NLRB statistics also show a 20% increase in decertification petitions last year versus 2021.
“As Michigan workers again face the prospect of mandatory union dues, we expect more will follow these TerryBerry workers and seek to decertify unions,” stated Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Numerous polls showed that Michigan voters overwhelmingly supported Michigan’s Right to Work law, which doesn’t prevent a single person from voluntarily joining or paying dues to a union, but merely protects workers from being fired for non-payment.”
“Being forced under a union you oppose is bad enough, but then being told to pay up or be fired is even worse,” continued Mix. “Michigan workers can turn to the National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys who stand ready to assist them in exercising their right to decertify unwanted unions.”
Second Group of Mankato Mayo Clinic Employees Petition for Vote to Oust Union from Workplace
Nursing support staff and others in 200-person unit demand vote to remove AFSCME union officials after nurses voted MNA union out last summer
Mankato, MN (May 12, 2023) – Less than a year after Mankato Mayo Clinic nurses voted the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) union out of the facility, Mankato Mayo nursing support staff, clerical staff, and environmental staff are undertaking a similar effort. Mankato Mayo employee Melody Morris, with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, filed a petition on May 9 asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote at the clinic on whether American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) officials should be removed.
A majority of Morris’ colleagues within the work unit under the control of AFSCME union officials supported her petition. Under NLRB rules, a union “decertification” petition containing the signatures of at least 30% of workers in a unit is enough to prompt the NLRB to administer a union decertification election.
Workers often seek free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation in exercising their right to vote out an unpopular union because the NLRB’s process for doing so is convoluted and prone to union boss gamesmanship. The right to decertify is especially important for Mankato Mayo Clinic employees and other workers across Minnesota because, due to the state’s lack of Right to Work protections, union officials can force workers under their control to pay dues as a condition of getting or keeping a job. In contrast, in Right to Work states, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary.
The Foundation-backed 2020 NLRB “Election Protection Rule” curtailed the non-statutory “blocking charge” policy that union bosses used to prevent rank-and-file employees from exercising their right to vote out a union. Prior to the rule, union officials could easily manipulate such “blocking charges” to stop workers’ requested votes from taking place for months or even years by making one or multiple unproven allegations against the employer.
The “Election Protection Rule” stopped the most common blocking charge tactics used by union lawyers to stall worker-requested votes, and in most cases permitted the immediate release of the vote tally. Despite numbers showing increased worker interest in voting out unwanted union officials across the country, Biden-appointed NLRB officials in Washington have initiated rulemaking to roll back the Foundation-backed reforms, including those targeting “blocking charges.”
More and More Minnesota Healthcare Workers Dissociate from Union Officials
Morris and her colleagues’ petition comes amid a surge in interest among Minnesota healthcare employees in exercising their right to vote out union officials they oppose. In addition to Mankato Mayo Clinic nurses, nurses from Mayo’s St. James, MN, branch removed the AFSCME Council 65 union from their hospital last August with Foundation aid. Employees from four Cuyuna Regional Medical Center locations across the Brainerd Lakes region of Minnesota also sought Foundation aid in their decertification effort against Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials last year.
Minnesota union officials seem unwilling to examine why growing numbers of workers want them ousted. A Minnesota Reformer profile on MNA President Mary Turner reported that Turner believes “it’s the nurses in Mankato, not the union, who need to change their approach,” and also quoted her as saying that Mankato Mayo nurses “[are] going to have to prove to us that they want the union because they lost it.”
“Minnesota healthcare workers may have any number of reasons for opposing monopoly union ‘representation’ in their workplaces: divisive union politics, inefficient work rules, or strikes that take them away from patients,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “But one thing is for certain: They are increasingly exercising their right to boot out unwanted unions, and the push from union officials and their allies at the highest levels of government to coerce and trap workers in unions shows a preference for power over worker freedom.”
“Minnesota employees who are interested in exercising their right to be free of union control should contact Foundation staff attorneys for free help in exercising their rights,” Mix added.
Starbucks Roastery Workers Move to Oust Union after One Year
NYC Starbucks employees file petition to decertify SEIU union affiliate after just one year under the union’s compulsory ‘representation’
New York, NY (May 10, 2023) – A Starbucks Roastery worker in Chelsea, Manhattan recently filed a petition for a vote on whether to remove NY-NJ Regional Joint Board, Workers United, an affiliate of Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The petition, submitted with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), was filed by Kevin Caesar. Caesar is receiving free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
On May 9, 2023, Starbucks employee Caesar filed the decertification petition to obtain a vote on whether to remove the union, often called Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) from their workplace. After being unionized for just over one year, the workers have had enough of the union and believe they would be better off without it. Under the National Labor Relations Act, which the NLRB is charged with enforcing, workers must wait one year after a unionization vote before they can seek another vote, such as the decertification election Caesar and his coworkers have demanded.
With the petition filed, the NLRB should now promptly schedule a secret ballot election to determine whether a majority of workers want to end union officials’ power to impose a contract, including forced dues, on the workers. If a majority vote against the union, the workers will join the vast majority of Starbucks workers across the country who are free from union boss-control.
The Starbucks workers are just the latest example of growing dissatisfaction with union officials’ “representation.” Currently, the NLRB’s data shows a unionized private sector worker is far more likely to be involved in a decertification effort as their nonunion counterpart is to be involved in a unionization campaign. NLRB statistics also show a 20% increase in decertification petitions last year versus 2021.
Unfortunately, the NLRB’s union decertification process is prone to union boss-created roadblocks, which can impact the Starbucks workers if union officials plot to stay in power regardless of workers’ wishes. Foundation-backed NLRB reforms from 2020 have made it somewhat easier for workers to escape unwanted union “representation,” such as the “Election Protection Rule” that prevents union bosses from filing trumped-up “blocking charges” to delay or stop decertification elections entirely.
Prior to these Foundation-backed reforms, workers often had their decertification votes delayed by unproven union blocking charges, giving union bosses the power to trap workers in union ranks they oppose nearly indefinitely. Under the Foundation-backed reforms, most votes take place promptly, with union blocking claims adjudicated after the votes have been counted. However, the Biden-appointed NLRB is currently engaging in rulemaking to roll back these protections and make it much harder for workers to decertify a union.
“No worker anywhere should be forced under so-called union ‘representation’ they oppose,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Starbucks workers around the nation that also fall victim to union tyranny should know they can turn to Foundation staff attorneys for assistance.”
“While we are happy that the Starbucks workers are able to take their first steps in exercising their rights oust an unwanted union, we call on SBWU union officials not to attempt to block or otherwise interfere with the rank-and-file workers’ right to hold this vote,” continued Mix. “Union bosses should not be allowed to keep their grip on power simply by disenfranchising those they claim to ‘represent.’”