17 May 2019

National Right to Work Foundation Publishes Special Legal Notice for Workers at St. Vincent Hospital

Posted in Legal Notices

In response to inquiries from impacted employees, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has published a special legal notice for nurses and support staff ordered by United Auto Workers (UAW) union officials to go on strike at St. Vincent Hospital in Toledo, Ohio.

Workers interested in returning to work should read the notice before doing so to learn their their rights and protect themselves against attempts by union officials to levy punitive fines against workers who return to work.

St. Vincent’s nurses and support personnel should know they have the following rights:

1) You have the right to resign your membership in the union. If you don’t support this union, you can send the union a letter resigning your membership. A sample letter can be found HERE.

2) You have the right to go to work even if the union bosses order a strike. Union officials can (and often do) levy onerous monetary fines against union members who work during a strike. So, you should seriously consider resigning your union membership BEFORE you return to work during a strike, which is the only way to avoid these ruinous union fines and discipline. See Union Discipline and Employee Rights.

Your resignation letter must be postmarked THE DAY BEFORE you return to work, or hand delivered BEFORE you actually return to work. A sample letter is HERE.

3) You have the right to revoke your dues checkoff and stop paying dues during the period when there is no collective bargaining agreement in effect. You must send a letter to St. Vincents and the UAW to accomplish this. A sample letter is HERE.

4) You have the right to sign and circulate decertification petitions to change your bargaining representative. Information on this option can be found here.

5) If the UAW union officials ever sign a new contract with St. Vincent, you have the right to become a “Beck objector” and pay only reduced financial core fees instead of full membership dues. If you become a Beck objector, you will not be forced to pay for the UAW unions’ far left political and social agenda. Information about this option is found here.

According to the latest disclosure, the UAW admits that approximately 25% of its dues are spent on often controversial politics that you cannot legally be forced to pay.

Read the complete legal notice for St. Vincent Hospital nurses and support staff here.

The notice is note the only special legal notice recently issued in response workers needing to protect themselves from UAW officials’ actions.

The Foundation also recently published a special legal notice for autoworkers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant informing them about their legal rights as UAW officials attempt to impose monopoly unionism on workers there. The special legal notice to Volkswagen employees, available in full here, summarizes these rights and notes that “workers not only have a right to learn information about the downsides of union affiliation, but also to share that information with their fellow team members”:

For example, UAW officials won’t want workers to learn about the many times UAW officials violated workers’ rights while enriching themselves, including in an ongoing federal corruption case that has already resulted in multiple top union officials going to jail. In fact, it the last ten years there have been 82 criminal enforcement actions against UAW officials by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Justice for conspiracy to defraud, embezzlement, theft, knowledge of a conspiracy, and/or receiving prohibited payments.

Partially as a result of those violations, over the last 10 years the UAW’s reported total liabilities have increased to $115,925,262 as of 2018. Such financial desperation has led the UAW to violate federal labor law and Michigan’s Right to Work law, such as when it was caught red-handed forcing represented employees in Michigan, a Right to Work state like Tennessee, to pay dues against their will.

Get the facts before you sign your name on any UAW petition or decide to vote for the UAW officials in an election. Union officials cannot legally infringe on your rights to hear and disseminate information critical of the union and union officials.

You have the legal right to refrain from signing a union authorization card or voting for the UAW. You also have the legal right to rescind a union authorization card after it has been signed. Whether you wish to sign a union authorization card or vote for the UAW is completely up to you. It is unlawful for an employer or a union to threaten or coerce any employee in the exercise of these rights.

Workers can learn about their specific legal rights during a strike based on their industry by visiting the Foundation’s webpage: “What if I want to continue working during a strike?”

Call the National Right to Work Foundation at 800-336-3600 if you want to discuss your legal rights, or to request legal assistance. You can also use our free legal request form: https://www.nrtw.org/free-legal-aid

16 May 2019

Teamsters, Company Hit with Federal Charges for Illegally Having Minnesota Worker Fired for Refusing to Join Union

Posted in News Releases

Case highlights need for Right to Work protections for Minnesota workers, to ensure union membership and dues payment are strictly voluntary

Minneapolis, Minn. (May 16, 2019) – An ex-employee of CRH Companies Midwest Region, a building materials supplier, has filed unfair labor practice charges against the Teamsters Local 120 union and his former employer with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after being illegally fired. According to the charges, the worker was told – falsely – by both a Teamsters official and a company representative that he was required to join the union as a condition of employment.

James Connolly was first misinformed by union officials on April 2, when he inquired in an email to a Teamsters Local 120 Agent whether or not he would be compelled into joining the union as part of the job. The union’s reply came the same day, with an official wrongly telling Connolly, “Sorry James but yes you do have to join.” Later, on May 1, a representative of CRH Companies reiterated the same false information to Connolly. Connolly responded to the company in a May 9 email in which he expressed his desire not to join the Teamsters.

The next day, Connolly was fired in an email from his employer, specifically because he did not join the union. He then obtained free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, whose staff attorneys helped him file the NLRB unfair labor practice charges.

Minnesota is not a Right to Work state and thus allows unions to force nonmembers to pay some union fees as a condition of employment. However, all workers have a right not to formally join a union, and termination based on union non-membership is a clear violation of federal law.

Connolly’s charge also requests that the NLRB go to federal court and seek a “Section 10(j)” injunction against both the company and the Teamsters remedying the illegal termination.

“James Connolly is fighting for his rights against union boss bullies who have violated longstanding federal law,” said National Right to Work President Mark Mix. “While this termination is blatantly illegal, it also underscores the need for Minnesota workers to have the protection of a Right to Work law, which would ensure that union membership and financial support are completely voluntary, and at the sole discretion of each individual employee.”

14 May 2019

California Labor Board Moves to Prosecute Operating Engineers Union Officials for Intimidation Tactics Against Dissenting Workers

Posted in News Releases

Union boss demanded personal emails of Sacramento-Yolo District workers seeking information about holding a vote to remove the union from their workplace

Sacramento, Calif. (May 15, 2019) – The California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) has found merit to unfair labor practice charges brought by three Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District employees. Accordingly, PERB issued unfair labor practice complaints for all three employees against the Operating Engineers Local Union 3 (IOUE). According to the complaint, union officials illegally tried to obtain private correspondence of the employees concerning their right to remove the union from their workplace.

The employees, Brett Day, Ryan Wagner, and Mark Pipkin, were targeted by union officials after they discussed how to exercise their rights as workers under California’s Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA), which guarantees public workers “the right to refuse to join or participate in the activities of employee organizations” and “the right to represent themselves individually in their employment relations with the public agency.” Union agents requested from their employer all emails the three had sent containing the words or phrases “decertification,” “PERB,” “union,” “decertify,” “how to get rid of union,” “Public Employee Relations Board,” and “Meyers Milias Brown Act.”

The request came as IOUE officials sought to block a push for a decertification election, in which workers would vote in secret to determine whether a majority want to end the union’s monopoly representation. Under the National Right to Work Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the dissenting workers finally have the legal right to stop financial support of the union, but California law still forces the union on them as their monopoly bargaining agent.

Day, Wagner, and Pipkin defended themselves by obtaining free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys and filing charges with PERB. The workers’ charges argue that the union’s demand for employee emails contravenes the workers’ rights under MMBA and calls for the union to end all its illegal activities, acknowledge the violation of employee rights, and post notices to remind workers of their freedom to refrain from union activities.

Now the PERB has found merit in the employees’ charges that the union, by requesting emails, “interfered with employee rights guaranteed by the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act in violation of section 3506 and thus committed an unfair labor practice.” Absent settlement, the PERB will move to prosecute the union for violating the workers’ legal rights.

“Operating Engineers union bosses are apparently so determined to stop workers from even holding a vote regarding union representation that they resorted to illegal intimidation tactics against the very workers they claim to ‘represent,’” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “As this case shows, even after the Janus decision recognized public workers’ legal right to stop subsidizing union activities, there remains much work to do to fully protect government employees from coercive union tactics.”

10 May 2019

Labor Board Ruling: Michigan Teacher Union Officials Violated Employee’s Rights under Right to Work Law

Posted in News Releases

In case brought by DeWitt school employee, MEA union ordered to stop illegal “window” policy blocking employees from ending dues payments

DeWitt, Michigan (May 10, 2019) – The Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) has ruled in favor of a DeWitt public school employee and ordered the Michigan Education Association (MEA) teacher union and its local affiliate the DeWitt Educational Support Personnel Association (DESPA) to stop enforcing an illegal policy blocking workers from exercising their rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law.

The ruling is a victory for DeWitt Public Schools employee Kimberly Stepanski, who filed the case with free legal representation by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys after MEA and DESPA rejected her attempts to cut off union dues, using a union-created “window period” policy.

According to the ruling, the union-created “window period” scheme – which is designed to limit workers from stopping dues payments except for a brief, union-selected time period – violates Michigan’s Right to Work law. The ruling also requires MEA union officials to refund to Stepanski any dues money collected since her initial resignation and requires the union to notify other employees that the “window” policy is illegal.

Stepanski first learned of the union scheme after attempting to resign and cut off dues payments in November 2013, only to be told that she was forced to pay dues because she missed the union’s designated “window period.” Stepanski, who says she had never been informed of the union’s policy, later sent a series of emails to the union officials reaffirming her intent to exercise her right not be a union member and to not fund any union activities, as protected by Michigan’s Right to Work law for public employees.

The law, which doesn’t stop workers from voluntarily joining or paying dues to a union, forbids compelling “any public employee to…become or remain a member of a labor organization…or otherwise affiliate with or financially support a labor organization.” Despite that, MEA union officials rebuffed Stepanski’s requests, demanding that she continue paying dues because she had not submitted her resignation request during the “opt-out window.”

Stepanski, with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation, then filed a charge at MERC in 2014 challenging the coercive scheme. In the ruling issued last week, MERC determined that MEA and DESPA had illegally “reject[ed] [Stepanski’s] revocation of her financial obligation and restrict[ed] her right to resign her membership at will.” It ordered the unions to end the “window period” scheme, stop collecting dues or fees from any employee after he or she has resigned union membership, and refund to Stepanski any dues that they had illegally taken since her November 2013 resignation.

The order is another recognition of the ruling in Saginaw, a 2015 Foundation-won case where MERC first found “window period” schemes to violate Michigan’s Right to Work law. That case and others brought by Foundation staff attorneys have resulted in numerous refunds for money taken under the illegal “window period” scheme.

“Even after National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have filed more than 100 cases against unions for forced unionism abuses since Michigan passed its Right to Work law, union bosses continue to systematically violate the rights of the very workers they claim to represent,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Hopefully, rather than continue to fight to trap the rank-and-file into forced dues payments, Michigan union officials will finally accept that Right to Work is the law, and refocus their efforts on actually convincing Wolverine State workers to voluntarily choose union activities.”

7 May 2019

Ohio Union Bosses Back Down from Class Action Lawsuit Challenging Forced Union Dues Scheme Designed to Block Workers’ Janus Rights

Posted in News Releases

CWA union officials quickly settle: rather than litigate, will stop enforcing unconstitutional policy and refund to workers blocked from stopping forced dues

Columbus, Ohio (May 7, 2019) – A federal First Amendment lawsuit brought by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys for a civil servant against Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 4502 and the City of Columbus has forced union officials to settle.

The settlement ends a union-created “escape period” policy that blocked City of Columbus worker Connie Pennington and hundreds of her coworkers from exercising their constitutional right to refrain from financially supporting the union. Union officials will refund all the money taken from the workers because their legal resignations were blocked under the union-created policy.

Connie Pennington, an employee of the City of Columbus, filed the lawsuit to challenge CWA Local 4502’s so-called “escape period” policy as a violation of her constitutional rights under the National Right to Work Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision to refrain from financially supporting the union.

After the landmark Janus decision, Pennington resigned her membership and revoked her union dues deduction authorization. However, CWA union officials refused to honor her revocation, instead claiming that she could only stop union dues payments at the end of the monopoly bargaining agreement with her employer in May 2020, leaving her trapped paying forced dues for almost two years.

Faced with being forced to subsidize the union against her will, Pennington sought free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys. Veteran Foundation staff attorney William Messenger, who argued and won the Janus case at the Supreme Court, sent a letter to CWA Local 4502 union officials for Pennington, reiterating her dues deduction revocation and explaining that a policy blocking her from exercising those rights violated the First Amendment. However, CWA officials continued to refuse to recognize her revocation and continued to deduct union fees from Pennington’s paycheck.

Pennington filed a class action lawsuit with help from Foundation staff attorneys challenging the so-called “escape period” policy as unconstitutional, because it limits when she can exercise her First Amendment rights under Janus and allows CWA Local 4502 officials to collect union dues without her affirmative consent.

In Janus, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to require public employees to subsidize a labor union. The Court further held that deducting any union dues or fees without a public employee’s affirmative consent violates the employee’s First Amendment rights.

Rather than face Foundation attorneys in court, union officials, concerned about losing even more privileges, settled the lawsuit. Under the terms, union officials and the city of Columbus will stop enforcing the “escape period” policy that trapped workers into paying forced union dues until the end of union officials’ monopoly bargaining contract.

Additionally, union officials will refund to Pennington all union dues deducted from her paycheck after she revoked her dues deduction authorization. Union officials will also identify any other workers whose rights were blocked by the illegal “escape period” policy, honor their requests to resign and revoke their dues deduction authorization, and refund the dues deducted under the policy. The City of Columbus will stop deducting union dues for CWA Local 4502 from any worker who has revoked a dues deduction authorization.

“Ms. Pennington stood up for her rights and successfully defeated this forced-fees, coercive scheme, freeing not just herself but also hundreds of her colleagues,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This victory joins previous settlements that have resulted in union bosses dropping illegal restrictions that attempt to keep their forced-dues stream flowing by undermining the First Amendment rights of the workers they claim to ‘represent.’ The National Right to Work Foundation will continue to project public sector employees’ rights under Janus.”

National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys are providing free legal aid to public sector workers in over two dozen cases across the country to enforce the Janus decision. To assist public employees in learning about their First Amendment rights under Janus, the Foundation established a special website: MyJanusRights.org.

3 May 2019

Teamsters Hit with Federal Charge for Attack on Sysco Foods Employee Collecting Petitions Opposing Union

Posted in News Releases

Teamsters agents snatched petitions of workers opposed to Teamsters, refuse to return employees’ petitions, are illegally using list to intimidate workers

Calera, AL (May 3, 2019) – Sulane Lowery, an employee of Sysco Foods of Central Alabama, filed a federal unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Teamsters Local 612 for violating his and his colleagues’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

The charge, filed with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, details how Teamsters agents violated his rights by physically intimidating Lowery and seizing the petitions he was collecting to oppose the imposition of the Teamsters’ monopoly “representation” on his workplace.

According to the NLRB charge, the Teamsters have targeted workers at the Sysco warehouse where Lowery is employed for Teamsters monopoly representation. Lowery, not wanting to be forced under a one-size-fits-all Teamsters union contract, organized a counter petition drive in opposition to the Teamsters.

According to Lowery’s charge, while he was gathering the petitions from his coworkers several Teamsters agents “ripped from his hands the petitions he was collecting” and proceeded to steal employee information they contained. The attack is believed to be caught on tape by security cameras.

The seized petitions were never returned. The charge notes that the information on the illegally seized petitions continue to be used to unlawfully threaten, restrain, and coerce the workers who are opposed to unionization by the Teamsters.

The charge will now be investigated by the NLRB Region 10 Director, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Sulane Lowery is simply exercising his right to oppose Teamsters monopoly unionization, but rather than seeking to convince workers to voluntarily affiliate with their union, Teamsters bullies have resorted to physical intimidation and coercion,” observed National Right to Work President Foundation Mark Mix. “Given Teamsters union bosses’ well-deserved reputation for using violence to shut down dissent, it is critical that the NLRB quickly prosecute the Teamsters for this blatantly illegal behavior.”

2 May 2019

HHS Rule Closes Illegal Loophole That Allowed Big Labor Medicaid Skim Scheme

Posted in News Releases

Washington, D.C. (May 2, 2019) – Today the Department of Health and Human Services has issued a final rule that clarifies that the diversion of Medicaid payments from providers to third parties, including unions, violates federal law.

As a gift to the Obama Administration’s political backers, in 2014 that administration promulgated a regulation to give legal cover to ongoing schemes by the SEIU and other unions that siphoned off over $1 billion in Medicaid funds.

Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, issued the following statement:

“Today’s rule is another important step forward in protecting the rights of homecare workers from rapacious union officials. In 2014, Foundation attorneys freed homecare workers from compulsory union fee requirements in Harris v. Quinn, which held those fees unconstitutional.

Today, this long-overdue rule closes the illegal loophole created by the Obama Administration that that has provided union officials with legal cover to siphon hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid funds into union political and lobbying activities. While the rule will still need to be robustly enforced, today’s announcement is an encouraging action toward stopping union bosses from unlawfully using public payment systems to intercept tax dollars intended for providers caring for those in need.”

Click here to read the rule.

Click here for more information, including on the National Right to Work Foundation’s efforts for years to halt to scheme, including the landmark 2014 Harris v. Quinn U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidating union attempts to mandate Medicaid providers fund union activities.

29 Apr 2019

Housekeeper Challenges Labor Board Double Standard Promoting ‘Card Check’

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, March/April 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Trump NLRB asked to enforce rule stopping companies from aiding union ‘card check’ drives

President Obama

President Barack Obama’s NLRB pushed through Big Labor-friendly rules promoting coercive “card check” union organizing drives

Washington, D.C. – After UNITE HERE Local 8 union officials unionized Gladys Bryant’s workplace via a “card check” drive, the Seattle housekeeper couldn’t help but feel that her rights had been violated.

Union bosses had significant help from Bryant’s employer, Embassy Suites, to organize the employees – even a list of workers’ names and contact information. And when Bryant had sought to revoke her card asking for the union’s representation, a union organizer lied to her and her coworkers about the process, blocking Bryant from exercising her rights.

After the tainted “card check” drive resulted in UNITE HERE Local 8’s monopoly bargaining power over her and her colleagues, Bryant decided to challenge the union bosses and her employer over their coercive tactics.

She filed charges with free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys. A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Regional Director dismissed her charges, but a Foundation staff attorney has filed an appeal with the NLRB General Counsel.

‘Card Check’ Drive Marked by Misinformation and Double Standards

Bryant had been working at Embassy Suites in Seattle for a month before the company informed her and her colleagues that UNITE HERE Local 8 union officials would be organizing the workplace.

Union officials began conducting a “card check” drive, a coercive tactic that bypasses a secret ballot election. Embassy Suites actively promoted the drive, giving union organizers special access to the hotel to meet and solicit employees. The hotel even provided union bosses with a list of all employees’ names, jobs, and contact information to assist the union officials in collecting authorization cards from employees.

Although Bryant did at first sign a union authorization card, she and many of her colleagues reconsidered. When Bryant asked a union official how to revoke her card, the union official misled her and other employees that they had to appear in person at the union hall to revoke any previously signed cards.

Bryant made an appointment with the union official in an attempt to comply with the unlawful requirement. However, the union official did not show up. As a result, Bryant and her colleagues were unable to revoke their union authorization cards, which were then counted as “votes” toward unionization.

Foundation Attorney Asks NLRB to Protect Worker Freedom

After Embassy Suites recognized UNITE HERE Local 8’s monopoly bargaining “representation” over employees, Bryant sought free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys to file charges, arguing that the unionization violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Bryant’s charges allege that Embassy Suites provided UNITE HERE’s organizing campaign with more than “ministerial aid.” The NLRB has long held that an employer taints employees’ efforts to remove a union if it gives the employees more than “ministerial aid,” such as providing a list of bargaining unit employees or use of company resources – as Embassy Suites gave union officials.

Foundation staff attorneys argue that the same “ministerial aid” standard must also apply when an employer aids union officials’ efforts to gain monopoly bargaining power over workers.

The Foundation staff attorney representing Bryant asks that the General Counsel issue a complaint on Bryant’s allegations to provide the Board with an opportunity to bring consistency to its “ministerial aid” standard

Bryant’s charges also argue that UNITE HERE violated the NLRA and fatally tainted its proof of employee support by misinforming employees that they could only revoke authorization cards by going in person to the union hall, blocking workers from exercising their rights. NLRB doctrine holds that, to revoke an authorization card, an employee must simply sign a document stating he or she does not support union representation.

Bryant and her coworkers had collected enough signatures for a decertification vote to remove the union. However, in a separate case covered in the January/February 2019 Foundation Action, the NLRB blocked their petition based on the “card check” recognition.

The block was due to Lamons Gasket, a 2011 Obama Board ruling barring decertification for one year after unionization via “card check.” Some Board members have noted in other recent cases that they would be willing to revisit the blocking charge policy in the future. “

“This case proves that not only are union bosses willing to manipulate and ignore the rights of the workers they claim they want to ‘represent,’ their coercion often goes unchecked because of double standards in how the NLRB interprets the law,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Ray LaJeunesse. “What qualifies as ‘ministerial assistance and support’ under the National Labor Relations Act cannot depend on whether the employer is helping outside union organizers impose unionization on workers, or assisting workers in exercising their rights to remove an unwanted union. This case offers the Trump NLRB a chance to stand up for worker freedom and end a double standard that tips the scales in favor of forced unionism.”

25 Apr 2019

Foundation Pushes for Rule Change to Stop Big Labor’s Illegal Medicaid Skim

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, September/October 2018 edition.

Union bosses have already diverted over $1 billion in Medicaid funds intended for caregivers

Pam Harris with her son Josh

Pam Harris, a home health care provider for her son Josh, won the U.S. Supreme Court Harris v. Quinn decision with the help of Foundation staff attorneys. Although the High Court declared it unconstitutional to skim union dues from Medicaid funds, the skim continues.

WASHINGTON, DC – Each year, schemes enacted by ten states allow well over $100 million to be diverted from healthcare providers to union officials. By skimming money from Medicaid programs, union bosses flout federal law and a National Right to Work Foundation-won Supreme Court decision.

A rule proposed by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) would end the scheme. In August, the Foundation submitted formal comments to CMS supporting the agency’s proposal that would clarify that the diversion of Medicaid payments from providers to third parties, including unions, violates federal law.

Proposed CMS Rule Would Halt Union Officials’ Skimming Healthcare Payments

In 2014, the Obama Administration promulgated a new regulation to give legal cover to ongoing schemes of the SEIU and other unions that siphoned money from Medicaid funds, violating the federal Medicaid statute that prohibits assigning benefits to third parties. Union officials have to-date skimmed over $1 billion in Medicaid funds intended for caregivers.

The Foundation’s comments call on CMS to halt the skim, urging the agency to repeal the Obama rule and replace it with clear language to give states notice that continuing to divert payments puts their Medicaid funding at risk.

“It is long past time for this outrageous exemption for union officials to be ended,” said Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Ray LaJeunesse. “The CMS should expeditiously issue a final rule to stop the illegal diversion of funds from Medicaid providers. Despite the wishes of the politicians whom they support, union officials are not exempt from federal law. All the current proposed rule change would do is close an illegal loophole the Obama Administration invented.”

Foundation Helps Caregivers Hold Union Officials Accountable for Scheme

Even as union officials circumvent the law through special privileges, the Foundation has fought to restore justice to the thousands of providers affected.

The 2014 Foundation-won Harris v. Quinn Supreme Court decision held that it is unconstitutional for states to force home care providers receiving Medicaid subsidies to pay union fees. The case continues, now designated as Riffey v. Rauner, as Foundation attorneys seek the return of over $30 million in funds seized from 80,000 providers in violation of their First Amendment rights.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling, the skim has not stopped. That is why in 2017 the Foundation sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services to bring its attention to the issue. Moreover, Foundation President Mark Mix personally raised the issue with Trump Administration officials at the White House earlier this year.

“Our National Right to Work Foundation-won 2014 Harris decision made it illegal for states to require providers pay fees to union officials, but the current scheme to deduct union fees from Medicaid payments is part of the union bosses’ attempts to undermine that ruling,” said LaJeunesse. “Nothing in the proposed CMS rule would stop providers from making truly voluntary dues payments to union officials by check or credit card each month. The rule would merely stop union bosses from using public payment systems to capture tax dollars intended for providers caring for those in need.”

24 Apr 2019

UConn Professor Refunded Over $5,000 in Union Fees Seized in Violation of his First Amendment Rights

Posted in News Releases

Supreme Court’s Janus decision leads AAUP union officials to quickly settle civil rights lawsuit filed by UConn School of Business accounting professor

Storrs, CT (April 24, 2019) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have secured a victory for a University of Connecticut School of Business professor who filed a lawsuit in January seeking the return of forced union fees seized from him by union officials in violation of his First Amendment rights.

Under the settlement, the American Association of University Professors union (AAUP) has returned $5,251.48 in unlawfully obtained union fees to accounting professor Steven Utke. Union officials were forced to settle because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME, a 2018 Foundation-won case that found that any mandatory union payments taken from public employees without their consent violate their First Amendment constitutional rights.

Since Utke was hired by the university in 2015, AAUP, which has monopoly bargaining powers over all professors, including those opposed to union representation, deducted fees from Utke’s paycheck. Utke was not a member of the AAUP, and further never consented to have the money deducted from his paycheck.

Eventually Utke, with free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, filed a federal lawsuit in the United States District Court for Connecticut on January 14, 2019, on the grounds that AAUP officials had infringed his First Amendment rights. The suit cited the Janus v. AFSCME decision, which declared that forced fees for government employees constitute coerced speech and are thus unconstitutional.

Janus v. AFSCME, which was decided in June of 2018, overturned the wrongly-decided 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that public-sector workers could be compelled as a condition of employment to pay union fees for bargaining-related purposes. In Janus, the Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to require government workers to pay any union dues or fees as a condition of employment, because bargaining with the government is political. Additionally, the Court clarified that no union dues or fees can be taken from workers without their affirmative consent and knowing waiver of their First Amendment right not to financially support a labor union.

Rather than face Foundation staff attorneys in court, AAUP backed down and settled the case earlier this month. Now, as stipulated by the terms of the settlement, AAUP officials have returned to Utke almost four years of union fees seized in violation of his rights plus interest. They further pledged not to collect any dues or fees from Utke’s future wages unless he affirmatively chooses to become a member of AAUP and authorizes such deductions.

“Steven Utke joins the growing ranks of workers across the country who, citing the Janus precedent, are receiving refunds for the forced union fees seized from them by greedy union officials in violation of the First Amendment,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Unfortunately, tens of thousands of other public employees are still waiting for the refunds they should get, with Foundation staff attorneys continuing to litigate numerous such cases.”

Foundation staff attorneys secured the first-in-the-nation refund of forced union dues after Janus for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife employee Debora Nearman, and subsequently have won similar refunds for public employees elsewhere.

The Foundation has created a special website, MyJanusRights.org, to assist public employees in exercising their rights under Janus, which was successfully argued by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney William Messenger.