9 Jan 2020

National Right to Work Foundation Submits Comments Urging Labor Board to Eliminate Policies that Trap Workers in Union Ranks They Oppose

Posted in News Releases

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) initiating rulemaking to modify rules used to block workers’ right to escape union ranks

Washington, DC (January 9, 2020) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has just submitted comments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), urging it to issue a final rule to nix three arbitrary policies that union officials frequently manipulate to trap workers in union ranks despite a majority’s desire to oust the union from the workplace. The three policies are not statutory, but were created by past Board precedents. The comments, submitted by Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse, support all three changes the NLRB is currently considering in rulemaking. However, the comments advocate an important modification to the Board’s proposed change in how it deals with so-called “blocking charges.”

The NLRB’s “blocking charge” policy currently lets union bosses file unfair labor practice (ULP) charges against an employer to halt employee votes to decertify unions, even if the allegations against the employer have no connection to the decertification effort. The agency plans to eliminate that policy and replace it with one that lets decertification elections proceed while such charges are pending, but requires the results of the vote to be withheld until those charges are resolved.

The Foundation’s comments explain that the Board’s proposed “vote and impound” procedure does not fully address the blocking charge problem, because even after workers vote union officials could continue to trap them in unwanted representation by dragging out the ULP process to maintain monopoly bargaining powers for months or years before the vote can be announced. The comments point out that this will unfairly “frustrate and confuse employees who may have to wait years to see the election’s results.” Instead, the Foundation urges the Board to release vote tallies first to “decrease litigation and give parties greater information on whether to settle” unfair labor practice charge allegations unlikely to impact the election’s outcome.

Foundation staff attorneys have provided legal assistance to scores of workers faced with “blocking charges,” most recently a group of Alaskan bus drivers who were freed in December 2019 from an unpopular Teamsters union after three years of attempts to remove it. One employee in that situation commented to the NLRB that Teamsters officials’ continued blocking of an election was “the most unfair and anti-democratic event” with which he had ever been involved.

The Foundation’s comments support the NLRB’s move to reinstate a process that allows employees and rival unions to file for secret-ballot elections after a union has been installed in a workplace through abuse-prone “card check” drives that bypass the NLRB-supervised election process. That critical modification to the so-called “voluntary recognition bar” policy would reinstate a system secured by Foundation staff attorneys for workers in the 2007 Dana Corp NLRB decision. Despite thousands of workers using the process to secure secret ballot votes after being unionized through card checks, the Obama NLRB overturned Dana in 2010.

The Foundation’s comments also support the agency’s proposed rule to crack down on schemes in the construction industry where employers and union bosses are allowed to unilaterally install a union in a workplace without first providing proof of majority union support among the workers. Foundation staff attorneys represented a victim of such a scheme in a case (Colorado Fire Sprinkler, Inc.) that ended when a DC Circuit Court of Appeals panel unanimously ruled for the worker, who had been unionized despite no evidence of majority employee support for the union.

The Foundation has long called for the NLRB to abandon all barriers to employee decertification of unions which the National Labor Relations Act, the federal law that the agency is charged with enforcing, does not mandate or even mention. In addition to the “blocking charge” policy and “voluntary recognition bar” that are subjects of the current rulemaking, the Foundation also opposes other arbitrary and non-statutory barriers to workers exercising their right to a decertification election.

“For too long the statutory right of employees under the National Labor Relations Act to vote out a union they oppose has been trampled by arbitrary NLRB policies that allow union bosses to maintain power despite the overwhelming opposition of rank-and-file workers,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Delays in the rulemaking process this Board has used to address these coercive policies means workers across the country continue to be trapped in unions they oppose every day, which is why the NLRB should now swiftly finalize these rules as the Foundation’s comments advocate.”

8 Jan 2020

Gompers Preparatory Academy Teacher Submits Petition for Vote to Remove SDEA Union from School

Posted in News Releases

Petition contains signatures of more than enough employees at charter school to trigger secret-ballot election to oust teacher union imposed through unreliable “card check” drive

San Diego, CA (January 8, 2020) – A group of employees at Gompers Preparatory Academy (GPA), a charter school in the Chollas View neighborhood, have signed a petition for a vote to remove the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) union from monopoly bargaining power at the school. GPA teacher Dr. Kristie Chiscano, who obtained free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, just submitted the decertification petition at the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).

Contention has surrounded the SDEA’s presence at GPA, as the union installed itself in January 2019 after conducting a controversial “card check” drive, bypassing the more reliable method of a secret-ballot election whether to certify a union as the monopoly representative of all educators in the school. GPA transitioned from being a regular public school to a charter preparatory academy in 2005 as the result of a campaign by parents, teachers, and administrators who believed that school district and union bureaucracies were not serving the students’ interests, especially by failing to combat the issues of gang violence and teacher attrition at the school.

Since the school’s unionization without a secret ballot vote in January 2019, no monopoly bargaining contract has been approved. GPA parents and educators have accused SDEA agents of sowing division at the school, including by supporting anti-charter school legislation, making unnecessary and disparaging comments to school leadership during bargaining sessions, and plotting to prevent the California NAACP from giving the school’s director, Vincent Riveroll, an award for helping minority students succeed.

Dr. Chiscano, who teaches chemistry to 10th and 11th grade students, began circulating the decertification petition in October 2019. She soon obtained the signatures of well over the number of her fellow educators necessary to trigger a PERB-supervised secret-ballot vote to remove the union. Their petition was filed with the PERB immediately following the one-year anniversary of the union’s installation.

In December, union officials preemptively filed a charge at PERB seeking “that the certification year be extended.” That would block the educators’ right to remove the union from their workplace for another year despite no evidence or even an allegation that any educator violated the law. Such “blocking charges” are a tactic union lawyers frequently use to block rank-and-file employees from holding secret-ballot elections that could result in the removal of union officials from power as employees’ designated monopoly representative.

Dr. Chiscano turned to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal aid to challenge this attempt by union officials to stymie her and her coworkers’ right to hold a decertification vote to oust a union they believe lacks the support of a majority of the school’s educators.

“Rather than face a secret-ballot vote of the rank-and-file educators they claim to represent, SDEA union bosses are attempting to resort to legal trickery to trap teachers in a union they oppose by blocking their right to hold a decertification election,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “By using these coercive tactics to attempt to trap teachers in union ranks SDEA union officials do wrong by GPA’s namesake, AFL-CIO union founder Samuel Gompers, who himself urged devotion to ‘the principles of voluntarism’ and reminded all American workers that ‘no lasting gain has ever come from compulsion.’”

2 Jan 2020

Grocery Workers Win Cases Against UFCW Union Bosses for Illegal Strike Threats

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

Union officials forced to refund seized dues, cease misleading workers about their rights

Democrat presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, seen here on the UFCW picket lines in April, sided with the union bosses who violated workers’ rights in an effort to secure their forced-dues-backed support in her campaign
Democrat presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, seen here on the UFCW picket lines in April, sided with the union bosses who violated workers’ rights in an effort to secure their forced-dues-backed support in her campaign.

BOSTON, MA – This September, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys won precedent-setting settlements for Massachusetts Stop & Shop employees Saood Rafique and Matthew Coffey. The two men charged United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union agents with multiple violations of their rights during the April 2019 union boss-ordered strike on the grocery chain. Rather than face continued prosecution, union officials settled their cases by remedying all of the violations of the workers’ rights stated in their respective unfair labor practice charges against the union.

Both Coffey and Rafique were misled by union agents from the start of their employments into thinking that joining the UFCW was a condition of employment at Stop & Shop. Such an arrangement, sometimes called a “closed shop,” was outlawed by the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. UFCW bosses also charged each of them full union dues illegally for years.

UFCW Agents Ramp Up Violations During Strike

Once the strike was ordered by UFCW bosses in April, Coffey and Rafique both found out — independently of what any union official had told them — that union membership could not be mandated as a condition of employment and that they had the right to rebuff the strike order and return to work.

Because they exercised their right to return to work, union agents targeted Coffey and Rafique with vicious campaigns of intimidation during the strike. Their initial unfair labor practice charges, filed with free assistance from the Foundation, reported that UFCW agents hit them with threats of termination, harassment and other forms of illegal retaliation after they decided to go back to work.

“The union threatened that, as soon as the company came back, I was gonna be fired immediately, because in order to work at Stop & Shop they claimed that you had to be part of the union,” Coffey told CBS Western Mass News during the strike. “Which was a blatant lie.”

Coffey and Rafique also experienced illegal retaliation after the strike, with Coffey receiving a letter from union officials demanding he appear before a UFCW kangaroo court to be punished for exercising his right to keep working, and Rafique reporting that UFCW agents had told his coworkers to spy on him.

Settlements Order Remedies for All UFCW Rights Abuses

The class-wide settlements for Coffey and Rafique, approved by National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 1 in Boston, order UFCW bosses to post remedial rights notices in over 70 Stop & Shop stores, as well as on the internet and in the union’s monthly newsletter, to inform all employees of their rights to both abstain from union membership and pay only the part of union fees directly germane to bargaining. These settlements enforce the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision.

The remedial notices also announce that UFCW officials will return to Coffey and Rafique dues seized from them in violation of their Beck rights. Also included in the notices are declarations that UFCW officials will “process resignations and objections of [all] bargaining unit employees who have resigned” union membership and “will not threaten [employees] with internal union discipline or fines” for returning to work during a strike. The settlements totally remedy the unfair labor practices suffered by the two grocery workers.

“These victories should serve as a reminder to all American employees — and union officials — that the individual rights of workers don’t cease to exist when union bosses call a strike,” commented Ray LaJeunesse, Vice President and Legal Director of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Workers who are subjected to strike intimidation or union bosses’ illegal misinformation can turn to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal aid to hold union bosses accountable for their illegal actions.”

New York Employee Also Wins Case After Illegal Dues Demands

The two New England grocery workers were not the only Stop & Shop employees to win settlements against the UFCW recently. John Smith, a former employee of the Stop & Shop branch in New Hyde Park, New York, also won a victory with Foundation aid this September.

Smith had charged UFCW agents with similarly misinforming him that the grocery store was a “closed shop” when he was hired in November 2018. When he asked about how to resign his union membership, he was misled by several union officials about his right to resign and cut off a portion of union dues.

Smith’s charge also noted that union officials never apprised him of his right as a non-member to pay only the amount of union fees directly related to bargaining, as the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision requires.

His settlement, approved by NLRB Region 29 in Brooklyn, orders union officials to post notices that union officials will inform employees of their rights to refrain from formal union membership and pay only union fees directly related to bargaining. Smith will also be refunded dues that were taken in violation of his Beck rights.

“As Smith’s case shows, union bosses won’t hesitate to mislead workers regarding their legal right to resign their union membership and full union dues,” added LaJeunesse. “Unfortunately this type of misinformation will continue to be spread as long as workers lack Right to Work protections that make union membership and financial support completely voluntary.”

31 Dec 2019

Featured Article: “The Future Looks Bright for the Right to Work Movement”

Posted in Blog

The Regulatory Review has ranked the essay entitled “The Future Looks Bright for the Right to Work Movement” by National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr. as one of the publication’s top essays in 2019.

The essay highlights successes in the ongoing fight against forced unionism through legal and legislative reform:

Thomas Jefferson famously said that it is “sinful and tyrannical” for government “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors.” That principle is consistent with the guarantees of freedom of speech and association enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Yet, some federal and state labor laws in this country have long authorized requirements that workers pay union dues as a condition of employment, requirements known as the “union shop” or “agency shop.” Increasingly, however, legislatures and courts are recognizing that workers have a constitutional right to work without being forced to subsidize a union.

Among recent achievements for the Right to Work movement are five new state Right to Work laws passed since 2012 and the landmark Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision in June 2018.

The complete essay is available to read online here.

29 Dec 2019

Foundation Assists Workers During UAW Union Boss-Ordered GM Strike

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

Strike order comes during growing UAW boss corruption and embezzlement investigation

With free aid from the Foundation, Ford employee Lloyd Stoner won a unanimous ruling from the NLRB which ordered UAW bosses to refund illegally seized dues

With free aid from the Foundation, Ford employee Lloyd Stoner won a unanimous ruling from the NLRB which ordered UAW bosses to refund illegally seized dues.

DETROIT, MI – In September, United Auto Workers (UAW) union bosses ordered tens of thousands of General Motors workers on strike. The strike came as federal prosecutors were intensifying their investigation into embezzlement and corruption within the UAW hierarchy. Just days before the strike, the probe had reached the top levels of the UAW when FBI agents raided the homes of the union’s current president and his predecessor.

Amid the scandal and union boss-instigated strike, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys were assisting several Michigan workers in legal challenges to the coercive practices of UAW officials. Additionally, Foundation Legal Information staff publicized a “special legal notice” directed at workers affected by the strike to ensure they knew their legal rights despite persistent union misinformation and threats.

GM Worker Stands Up to UAW Discrimination

Joseph Small, a stamping metal repair worker at a Lansing, Michigan, GM plant, filed a federal charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) right before the strike unfolded with free aid from Foundation staff attorneys. Small, who is not a UAW member and is not required to pay fees to the union because of Michigan’s Right to Work Law, asserted in his charge that UAW officials “heavily involved [themselves] in the interview process” for a promotion for which he was being considered.

Small was passed over for the position, which went to a union member. Small’s charge notes that a union representative later “stated that [Small] did not get the position because [he] was not paying union dues,” a clear violation of federal labor law.

According to the National Labor Relations Act, workers have the right to refrain from union activities and neither union officials nor management can discriminate against employees based on their union membership status.

Ford Worker Wins Unanimous NLRB Ruling

Ford Motor Company worker Lloyd Stoner, who works at the company’s facility in Dearborn, Michigan, won a second victory in defense of his rights this August with free legal aid from the Foundation.

Stoner, who had originally charged UAW officials and Ford with illegally seizing dues from his paycheck despite his previously resigning his union membership and revoking his dues deduction authorization, received a unanimous ruling from a three-member panel of the NLRB in Washington, D.C. The labor board directed UAW officials to make Stoner whole for the dues they illegally took.

The NLRB also ordered UAW officials to immediately honor any other employees’ membership resignations. Stoner had earlier won a favorable settlement from Ford for its role in blocking him from exercising his rights.

“UAW union officials continue to show a willingness to break the law, even violating the rights of the very workers they claim to represent,” observed National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens. “Whether it be federal corruption prosecutions or unfair labor practice charges at the NLRB, UAW bosses must be held accountable when they break the law.”

27 Dec 2019

Foundation Urges Federal and State Governments to Protect First Amendment Rights

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

Alaska first state to require First Amendment Janus rights waiver before deducting union dues

Dunleavy Clarkson AlaskaAlaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (left), following an opinion from Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, ordered all Alaska state agencies to protect state employees’ First Amendment rights under Janus.

ANCHORAGE, AK – In late September, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy signed an executive order to protect the First Amendment rights of state employees established in last year’s Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision. The order calls for the State of Alaska to stop deducting union dues from the paycheck of any worker who hasn’t filed a form with the state affirmatively waiving his or her First Amendment right under Janus not to fund any union activities.

The move follows a letter last year sent by National Right to Work Foundation Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse to state comptrollers in Alaska and other states, urging them to modify dues deduction policies to comply with the Janus decision.

Foundation Comments Detail Need to End Dues Deductions Uncompliant with Janus

The Foundation also recently filed comments with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) regarding the need for the federal government to take steps to protect the First Amendment rights of employees recognized in the Foundation-won Janus decision. The Foundation’s comments were submitted after the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) asked the FLRA to solicit public comments on how to proceed with union dues deductions in light of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision last year.

In that case, the High Court held that requiring public employees to pay union dues or fees without their consent violates the employees’ First Amendment rights “by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.” Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion for the court further ruled that no union dues or fees could be taken from a public employee “unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay” using a “freely given” waiver of his or her First Amendment rights.

Consistent with that standard, the Foundation’s comments urge the FLRA to issue guidance to agencies that they “must cease deducting union dues from the wages of employees who signed a dues deduction form that does not satisfy the [Janus] standard.” According to Department of Labor statistics, nearly one million federal employees — 26.4% of all federal workers — are union members, many of them likely having dues deducted from their paychecks despite never having knowingly waived their First Amendment right not to subsidize union activities.

The Foundation comments make clear that these dues deductions should cease in the wake of Janus. To comply with Janus, workers wanting to voluntarily pay union dues can either provide the government with a valid waiver of their rights or pay dues on their own without using taxpayer-funded payroll systems to forward the money to union officials.

The Foundation’s comments to the FLRA further argue that, even where workers provide a valid authorization for dues deductions that meets the Janus standard, the government shouldn’t block them from revoking that authorization if the request is submitted at any time at least a year after the Janus-compliant authorization was obtained.

Foundation Comments Push to End Union-Created “Window Period” Scheme

Unfortunately, agencies and union officials often prohibit federal employees from stopping the seizure of union dues from their wages except during short annual escape periods. The comments filed by the National Right to Work Foundation say that this practice does not comply with Janus either.

“The Janus precedent is very clear about this: Without affirmative and knowing waivers from public workers, government entities cannot collect union dues without violating a worker’s First Amendment rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix.

“Currently, the government seizes union dues from almost one million federal employees in violation of the Janus decision’s First Amendment standard. Federal agencies are obligated to protect workers’ constitutional rights in this rulemaking process.”

Since the Janus decision last year, Foundation staff attorneys have been fighting to ensure public workers’ First Amendment rights are protected, litigating more than 30 cases in federal courts across the country to enforce the landmark ruling.

24 Dec 2019

Healthcare Worker Sues Teamsters Union and Healthcare Facility for Violating West Virginia Right to Work Law

Posted in News Releases

Former Tygart Center employee says union officials and employer violated her legal rights by demanding she join the union and pay union dues and fees to keep her job

Fairmont, WV (December 24, 2019) – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, healthcare worker Donna Harper filed a lawsuit against Teamsters Local 175 and the Tygart Center for violating her rights under the State of West Virginia’s Right to Work law.

West Virginia’s Right to Work law prohibits requiring workers to pay union dues or fees just to get or keep a job. In defiance of West Virginia’s Right to Work law, Tygart Center and Teamsters union officials entered into a collective bargaining agreement that required employees to pay union dues and fees as a condition of employment.

When Harper was hired, Tygart Center officials informed Harper that she must become a union member and pay union dues as a condition of employment in violation of her legal rights. Tygart Center officials deducted full union membership dues and fees from Harper’s paycheck and remitted this money to Teamsters union officials.

In March 2019, Harper successfully exercised her legal rights by resigning her union membership. Even then union officials continued taking union dues from her paycheck. Union officials also never fully refunded the union dues unlawfully seized from her wages.

Foundation staff attorneys filed the suit against the Tygart Center and the Teamsters union for Harper in Marion County Circuit Court. Harper worked at the Tygart Center from February 2018 until September 2019 as a Laundry Aide and as a Certified Nursing Assistant.

Foundation staff attorneys also filed an amicus brief for Harper with the West Virginia Supreme Court defending the state Right to Work law against a protracted lawsuit brought by several unions seeking to overturn the law and restore union officials’ power to have workers fired for refusing to pay union dues or fees. That case is scheduled for oral arguments in the Supreme Court on January 15. That court has already rejected the unions’ arguments once, overturning a preliminary injunction against the Right to Work law.

“Teamsters union bosses demonstrated a blatant disregard for the law by illegally demanding Ms. Harper and her coworkers pay union dues and fees just to get or keep their jobs,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Contrary to Big Labor’s wishes, West Virginia’s Right to Work law is in full effect, meaning all union dues for workers covered by the law must be completely voluntary.”

20 Dec 2019

National Right to Work Foundation In the Wall Street Journal: “Trapped by the Teamsters”

Posted in Blog

Recently the Wall Street Journal published a piece by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix titled “Trapped by the Teamsters.”

The op-ed describes the numerous NLRB policies, doctrines and “bars” workers across the country face when merely attempting  to hold a vote to oust Teamsters bosses and other union officials as their monopoly bargaining so-called “representative.” The article illustrates these coercive policies through recent examples faced by workers who have turned to the Foundation for free legal aid:

A majority of workers at a Wisconsin trucking company experienced this over the past two years. First, they were blocked from removing their union by the so-called voluntary-recognition bar. This stops workers from decertifying a union for up to a year after the union is installed through “card check”—a procedure that avoids the need for a secret ballot and makes workers vulnerable to union intimidation.

Then, after waiting a year for that bar to expire, the Wisconsin workers found they had been merged by Teamsters officials into a multicompany nationwide bargaining unit of about 24,000 workers. Suddenly the petition to oust the local union was 7,000 signatures short—for a workplace with fewer than 10 union workers. Last month the NLRB declined the Wisconsin workers’ appeal, though a majority of voting board members signaled they would revisit the “merger doctrine” policy in the future.

Other workers face other hurdles: The “settlement bar” blocks a decertification vote because of an NLRB settlement to which the workers weren’t a party; the “successor bar” blocks a vote for up to a year after a company is acquired; the “contract bar” blocks a vote for up to three years after a union contract is forged; and a “blocking charge” blocks a vote while union allegations against a company are pending. None of these are required by law.

The NLRB is addressing the voluntary-recognition bar and blocking charges through the current rule-making process, but the other policies are similarly destructive of workers’ legal right to vote out a union that lacks majority backing. Congress should act to protect workers from being trapped in union ranks they oppose, but in the meantime the NLRB has the authority to eliminate these barriers.

Union officials unable to win the support of a majority of the workers they purport to represent shouldn’t maintain power solely because of bureaucratic rules. Instead, whenever enough workers file a petition to remove a union they oppose, the NLRB should simply let them vote.

Read the whole piece here.

17 Dec 2019

Flint-Area Nurse Hits Teamsters Union Bosses and Genesys Hospital with Lawsuit for Violating Michigan’s Right to Work Law

Posted in News Releases

State court lawsuit: Teamsters union bosses and Genesys Regional Medical Center illegally rejected six different requests by nurse to end union dues deductions

Flint, MI (December 17, 2019) – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Flint-area nurse Madrina Wells has sued the Teamsters Local 332 union, after union bosses illegally demanded she pay them union fees as a condition of keeping her job. Her employer, Genesys Regional Medical Center, is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit for seizing union fees from her paycheck at the behest of Teamsters officials. Wells’ lawsuit, filed in state court, says that both actions violate her rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law.

According to the complaint filed in Genesee County Circuit Court, Wells resigned her union membership in February 2018 and requested that Teamsters officials cease all dues deductions from her paycheck in December of the same year. Notwithstanding her request, Teamsters bosses sent her a letter in January 2019 demanding that she pay them nonmember “agency fees” after she returned from a stint on medical leave, which she had begun in December 2018.

Though a reduced amount of union dues is legally chargeable to private sector employees who abstain from formal union membership in non-Right to Work states, in Right to Work states like Michigan no public or private sector employee is required to pay any amount of union fees as a condition of employment.

When Wells resumed work in July 2019, the complaint notes, she sent Teamsters officials another notice “renewing her objection” to tendering any dues or fees whatsoever to the Teamsters hierarchy. Teamsters bosses again rebuffed her request, insisting that she was required to pay them a portion of union fees as a condition of employment.

According to the complaint, Teamsters officials subsequently demanded forced fees from Wells for July through December of 2019, all in clear violation of her rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law. Wells responded to each demand by reiterating her objection to the illegal fees, but submitted the fees demanded by Teamsters bosses under protest. On top of that, Genesys Regional Medical Center forcibly deducted the Teamsters’ so-called “agency fee” from Wells’ paycheck in August 2019, and seized the full amount of union dues from her paycheck in October.

Wells seeks a ruling from the Genesee County Circuit Court that will make Teamsters officials end all illegal dues demands and pay “damages and/or equitable restitution” to her for all the dues that they seized from her, plus interest.

Michigan has been a hotbed for litigation brought for workers with Foundation legal aid since the state enacted its Right to Work law in 2013. Recently, Foundation staff attorneys won a settlement for Port Huron-area public school employees Tammy Williams and Linda Gervais, ending dues demands made by the Michigan Education Association union (MEA) in violation of the Right to Work law. As a result of that settlement, more than a dozen teachers were freed from illegal dues demands.

“Once again Michigan union bosses have been caught shamelessly violating Michigan’s Right to Work law,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Foundation staff attorneys have litigated more than 100 cases in the Wolverine State since its Right to Work law was enacted, and will continue the fight until all Michigan workers can freely exercise their right not to fund unions with which they disagree.”

12 Dec 2019

Yotel Boston Housekeepers File Charges Challenging Illegal Employer Assistance in UNITE HERE Unionization Push

Posted in News Releases

Workers file federal charges against union and hotel for pact to assist union organizers during coercive “card check” union organizing drive

Boston, MA (December 12, 2019) – Four Boston housekeepers have filed federal unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against their employer Yotel Boston and the UNITE HERE Local 26 union with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. The employees’ NLRB charges allege UNITE HERE union officials violated federal law by imposing union representation on workers through a coercive “card check” drive with their employer’s assistance.

Housekeepers Cindy J. Alarcon Vasquez, Lady Laura Javier, Yestca Perez Barrios, and Danela Guzman charge that Yotel Boston provided UNITE HERE’s organizing campaign with more than “ministerial aid” and recognized the union as the employees’ exclusive representative in the workplace even though union officials had not demonstrated that an untainted majority of workers support the union. The workers contend that by doing so Yotel Boston and UNITE HERE officials violated their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

The NLRB has long held that an employer taints employees’ efforts to remove a union if it gives those employees support such as a list of bargaining unit employees or use of company resources. The workers here argue that Yotel Boston similarly tainted the union’s organizing campaign by providing to UNITE HERE union organizers assistance amounting to more than “ministerial aid.”

These charges were filed just weeks after NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, the Board’s top prosecutor, ordered NLRB Region 19 to prosecute Embassy Suites and the UNITE HERE Local 8 union for similarly assisting UNITE HERE in foisting the union on that hotel’s workers through a card check. Granting an appeal by Seattle housekeeper Gladys Bryant, the General Counsel found that the union’s “card check” recognition was tainted because Bryant’s employer, Embassy Suites, provided significant aid to the union officials’ organizing efforts through their “neutrality agreement” in violation of the NLRA.

Bryant’s appeal successfully argued that the “ministerial aid” standard must also apply when an employer aids union officials’ efforts to gain monopoly bargaining power over workers. Thus, the General Counsel’s ruling applied the “ministerial aid” standard consistently, no matter whether the employer’s assistance favors or opposes unionization.

“It is long past time that the National Labor Relations Board ended its double standard that helps union bosses abuse workers’ rights through coercive card check unionization drives,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The General Counsel correctly recognized recently that what qualifies as more than ‘ministerial assistance and support,’ and thus violates 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 right to remove an unwanted union.”

“This case shows that union bosses are not only willing to manipulate and ignore the rights of the workers they claim they want to ‘represent,’ but that their coercion has gone unchecked for far too long because of double standards in how the NLRB has interpreted the law,” Mix added.