Rerun Election Approved in Fox Employee Vote to Oust CWA Union after Labor Board Agent Botches Mail Ballot Count
Labor board agent revealed how individual workers voted in latest example of why in-person, secret-ballot voting better protects workers from retaliation and pressure tactics
Las Vegas, NV (August 10, 2021) – Technicians at a Fox Television Stations, Inc. facility in Las Vegas will get another chance to vote on whether they will remove National Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians (NABET-CWA) union officials from their workplace.
The rerun election follows a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) agent’s gross mishandling of the first mail-in ballot count. The employee who submitted a worker-backed petition for a vote to remove the union, Victor Morales, received free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys in challenging the tainted vote count.
Under NLRB policies, workers have the right to vote unwanted union officials out of their workplace, but first must submit a petition demonstrating that at least 30 percent of the workplace desires such a vote. If enough workers are interested, the NLRB will conduct a “decertification election” after which union officials will lose their status as monopoly bargaining agent in the workplace.
Voting in person by secret ballot has been the default way the NLRB conducts all elections, including decertification votes, and has long been recognized as the most secure election method. However, the vote in Morales’ workplace occurred via mail, a method in which balloting is completely unsupervised by the NLRB and each ballot must be returned in an envelope bearing the employee’s name and address.
According to a brief filed by Morales with free Foundation legal aid, an agent of NLRB Region 28 in Phoenix exposed the choices of every voter in Morales’ workplace, an occurrence that would not be possible in a secret-ballot in-person vote. Morales’ brief noted that, as he and other parties observed the vote count via Zoom, the agent read the choice on each ballot immediately after removing it from both its blue interior security envelope and its exterior yellow mailing envelope containing each voter’s name. In doing so, the agent “destroyed ballot secrecy and revealed how every employee voted.” Morales’ brief demanded a rerun election.
NLRB Region 19 in Seattle, which investigated the miscount by NLRB Region 28, agreed that the integrity of the vote had been wholly compromised. Its report noted that the “Board has a longstanding policy of voiding ballots which reveal the identity of the voter.” The report recommended a rerun vote because there is “sufficient evidence to establish that the Board agent did not safeguard the secrecy of the votes cast which raises a reasonable doubt as to the fairness and validity of the election.”
The go-ahead for a new election in Morales’ workplace comes as Foundation staff attorneys are aiding a Los Angeles transportation worker, Nelson Medina, in preventing the NLRB from tossing out his objections to a mail ballot election in his workplace pushed by Teamsters Local 848 union officials. Medina asserts that several of his fellow employees’ ballots weren’t counted due purely to errors by NLRB agents or the US Post Office, and that union lawyers had access to tracking numbers for ballots that were originally considered late, indicating unlawful mail ballot harvesting by union officials.
These two cases are just the latest examples of the inferiority of mail and electronic ballots, both of which are preferred by union organizers who can game the system to the detriment of workers who wish to keep their vote private.
Because balloting in such union-preferred election methods is conducted outside the supervision of the NLRB, union agents can and do employ pressure tactics while the vote is ongoing. Unions often send multiple organizers to make unsolicited visits to workers at their homes shortly after they receive their ballots. The organizers at times actually handle ballots and/or watch how individual workers cast their vote.
These coercive tactics are already employed in “card check” union organizing campaigns, a method which allows union officials to bypass a secret-ballot election entirely and install themselves in a workplace merely by sending agents to collect union authorization cards from workers, also while unmonitored by the NLRB.
The latest NLRB missteps in non-in-person unionization votes have occurred as top Organized Labor officials and their allies in Congress push for the NLRB to promote electronic ballot elections, which would allow union officials to deploy “card check” pressure tactics in the same way as they do with mail ballot votes.
In a recent appropriations bill (H.R. 4502), the House of Representatives recently included a rider requiring the NLRB to create an electronic voting system.
The so-called “PRO-Act,” a bill designed to increase union boss power over workers opposed to union representation, also contains a provision requiring the NLRB to implement an electronic voting system for representation elections, with voting taking place by either internet or telephone.
“Mr. Morales and his coworkers deserve a secure, in-person, election so they can freely choose who will speak for them in the workplace. Foundation staff attorneys will keep fighting for them until they get it,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Union officials favor any voting method that takes away the private, secret-ballot process that allows workers to vote yes or no in unionization elections. Under these voting schemes, union organizers can confront and pressure workers until enough have been intimidated into supporting unionization.”
Union officials must stop retaliation against workers, and must pay back withheld healthcare premium money
Detroit, MI (August 6, 2021) – With free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, Michigan Rieth-Riley Construction Company employees Rob Nevins and Jesse London have won settlements against International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 324 union bosses. The settlements stem from charges of retaliation the workers filed during the strike IUOE union bosses ordered in mid-2019, which continues today.
The settlements require union bosses to refrain from intimidation tactics IUOE forced on London and Nevins because they decided to end their union memberships and keep working to support their families despite the union boss-issued strike order. Nevins charged union officials with threatening to “blackball” him if he didn’t strike, and London reported that IUOE officials refused to hand over hundreds in health insurance premium money they owed him for time he participated in the strike before exercising his right to leave the union.
Both men also had asserted in other Foundation-backed litigation that IUOE officials created arbitrary hurdles to stop them from exercising their workplace rights. Earlier charges filed by Foundation staff attorneys on behalf of London, Nevins, and other workers pointed out that union officials had failed to honor resignations that completely complied with union demands, and had illegally required all resignation letters be submitted by registered or certified mail.
The current settlements now mandate that IUOE union bosses not discriminate against London and Nevins for exercising their right to refrain from union membership, and also orders them to pay to London the health insurance premium money he is owed.
The settlements come amid a continued push by Rieth-Riley workers for a vote to remove the IUOE union from its monopoly bargaining power at their workplace. Rieth-Riley employee Rayalan Kent submitted the latest employee-backed petition for an NLRB-supervised decertification election in August 2020, which was immediately targeted by union bosses with “blocking charges,” unproven and often unrelated accusations made of an employer that are meant to derail a decertification effort.
Though the regional NLRB office in Detroit ruled in November 2020 that Kent’s petition was invalid and ballots that he and his coworkers had already submitted in the vote should be destroyed, the NLRB in Washington, DC, announced in February 2021 that it would take up Kent’s appeal of that decision.
“It’s easy to see why Rieth-Riley workers might resent IUOE Local 324 union officials and want them out of the workplace – they have established an awful track record of violating the rights of any employees who resist their will in any way instead of working to obtain their voluntary support,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While we’re pleased that Mr. London and Mr. Nevins won these settlements, we urge the NLRB to protect the right of all Rieth-Riley workers to vote to remove a union hierarchy they oppose.”
Workers in Three-Year Push for Vote to Oust Union Rebut NLRB Chairman’s Argument that Their Election Should Be Blocked
Workers’ brief blasts NLRB chairman McFerran for trying to enforce provision of the controversial ‘PRO-Act’ that has failed to be enacted
Washington, DC (August 3, 2021) – Workers at a Memphis branch of Geodis Logistics filed a brief with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) asking the Board to finally hold a union decertification election the workers have been requesting for over three years. The brief blasted a dissenting opinion by NLRB Chairman Lauren McFerran that argued the workers’ petition should be blocked and the NLRB should not even review their case.
In March 2018, Geodis employee Mary Alexis Ray collected the requisite number of her coworkers’ signatures and submitted a petition to NLRB Region 15 requesting a vote to remove officials of the United Steel Workers union from her workplace. Union officials initially signed an election agreement, but later filed unfair labor practice charges against Geodis, which the Region used as justification to cancel the election.
Because of those pending union “blocking charges” against Geodis, NLRB Region 15 would not grant an election under the presumption that Geodis’s alleged wrongdoing had impacted the workers’ opposition to the union. In response, Ray collected signatures on a second petition, but was again shot down by the Region.
Two years later, Geodis settled the unfair labor practice charges with no admission of wrongdoing. Given that the charges used to block the decertification petitions had been settled, Geodis asked Region 15 officials to reinstate the workers’ petition, but their request was rejected once again. Geodis then asked the full NLRB to review the Region’s decision, and the Board’s majority agreed to review the case and requested briefs from all parties. But NLRB Chairman Lauren McFerran dissented, arguing the workers’ petition should not be reinstated at the employer’s request.
With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Ray, who previously had acted on her own without a lawyer, filed a response brief that excoriated McFerran, currently the Board’s lone Democratic appointee. McFerran is poised to soon lead a new Biden majority when two longtime union lawyers nominated by President Biden will both be seated.
In her dissent, McFerran wrote: “An employer has no statutory standing to seek the reinstatement and processing of a decertification petition that has been dismissed by a Regional Director.” She added that, because “the employee who filed these petitions has not sought their reinstatement,” the employer “is not free now to take over an employee-initiated decertification effort that employees themselves seem to have abandoned.”
That Ray filed a response brief disproves McFerran’s baseless assertion that the petition was abandoned by the workers. The brief took McFerran to task for her faulty reasoning: “The legal definition of abandonment requires intentionality…Petitioner Ray never contacted the Region and attempted to withdraw the petition and nothing suggests the unit composition had radically changed, or that the employees repudiated the original decertification effort.”
The workers did not know whether Geodis had complied with its settlement, and could not have known when it was appropriate to file for reinstatement of their petition. As Ray’s brief states, “The fact that Petitioners did not have their own labor lawyers to push the case forward when they did not have the necessary information or means to do so, does not show a lack of interest in, or an abandonment of, these proceedings.”
One party did have the requisite information to file for reinstatement: Geodis. Accordingly, the employer filed for reinstatement of the workers’ petition once it had settled the blocking charges. But McFerran objected, saying that employers lack the legal standing to call for such reinstatements.
Ray’s brief explains that exclusion of employers makes it nearly impossible for workers to carry out their own decertification efforts because they have little knowledge of the employer-union disputes that are blocking their elections. Instead, the brief argues, “the entity with the most knowledge of the underlying facts would be best suited to file a Request for Review and/or a request to reinstate the petition—and that entity is the employer, not the petitioning employee.”
“Chairman McFerran apparently desires to neuter employees’ decertifications by making it impossible for their petitions to be defended.” Employers are not supposed to interfere in employee decertification efforts, but that clearly is not the situation in this case. As Ray’s brief contends, “It is farcical to say that an employer ‘interferes’ ‘restrains’ or ‘coerces’ employees by filing a legal brief asking for reinstatement of the petition the employees themselves collected and filed.”
Given that McFerran’s arguments are “farcical” under current law, Ray’s brief suggests McFerran may have derived them from laws-yet-to-be. As the brief puts it, her dissent “appears to herald a backdoor administrative effort to adopt a provision of the so-called Protecting the Right to Organize Act (‘PRO Act’) that would disqualify employers as parties in all election cases―without regard to whether Congress ever passes such unprecedented and radical legislation.”
In the intervening three years since she filed her petitions, Ray was promoted to a management position outside the union’s control. Her brief therefore asks that Geodis employee Charyl Cathey be made the new petitioner, and asks the Board to schedule a decertification vote without delay.
“The workers at Geodis Logistics have waited over three years for a vote, but the NLRB Chairman wants them to wait even longer, and in fact probably never wants the employees to have any vote to remove the unwanted union,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “Mary Alexis Ray went through the effort of collecting signatures on not one, but two, decertification petitions, and after years of NLRB-approved legal delays, Lauren McFerran had the nerve to suggest that employees have abandoned their petition.”
“McFerran’s position, like the so-called PRO-Act, is just another blatant attempt to rig federal labor law further in favor of union bosses to the detriment of rank-and-file workers opposed to union affiliation.”
UC Irvine Lab Assistant Sues State of California over Policy Allowing Union Officials to Seize Dues in Violation of First Amendment
UPTE officials arbitrarily require photo ID just to stop financial support for unwanted union
Irvine, CA (August 2, 2021) – A University of California Irvine lab assistant has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the university and the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) union, a Communications Workers of America (CWA) affiliate.
The case, filed with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, challenges the university’s illegal seizure of union dues money from her paychecks, and its policy allowing union officials to impose a photo ID requirement limiting the right of public employees to cut off dues payments to the union.
Amber Walker’s class-action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on July 30. Her Foundation-provided attorneys argue that a California statute that makes public employers completely subservient to union officials on dues issues resulted in both due process and First Amendment violations that occurred due to UPTE officials’ photo ID requirement.
The National Right to Work Foundation won the Janus v. AFSCME case at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018. The Court declared that forcing public sector workers to fund unions as a condition of employment violates the First Amendment. The Justices also ruled that union dues can only be taken from a public employee with an affirmative and knowing waiver of that employee’s First Amendment right not to pay.
Walker’s lawsuit explains that she sent UPTE union bosses a letter in June 2021 exercising her right to end her union membership and all union dues deductions from her wages. Although Walker submitted this message within a short annual “escape period” that UPTE officials impose to limit when workers can revoke dues deductions, they still rebuffed her request, telling her she needed to mail them a copy of a photo ID to effectuate her revocation. The photo ID requirement, clearly adopted to frustrate workers’ attempts to exercise their constitutional rights, is mentioned nowhere on the dues deduction card Walker had previously signed to initiate dues payments.
The university and UPTE officials have continued to take money from Walker’s wages against her will. It appears they plan to continue to do so for at least another year as the UPTE’s arbitrary and short annual “window period” elapsed by the time UPTE officials notified Walker that her attempt to stop dues was rejected for lack of photo ID. The university is required to defer to UPTE’s dictates under the California statute that gives unions total control over public employees’ dues deductions.
Foundation staff attorneys state in Walker’s complaint that, because of the California statute, UPTE officials were able to trample Walker’s desire to keep her own money and were allowed to infringe on her First Amendment Janus rights, explaining that “The University deprives Walker and similarly situated employees of their liberty and property interests without due process of law by granting a self-interested and biased party, UPTE, control over whether the University takes monies for union speech from employees’ wages.”
Walker seeks refunds of the dues taken from her and other university workers under UPTE’s photo ID scheme. She also seeks to stop the State of California from enforcing its state law outsourcing the process for stopping and starting union dues deductions to self-interested union officials.
Meanwhile, Foundation staff attorneys are urging the Supreme Court of the United States to take up two class-action cases defending public sector employees’ First Amendment Janus rights from union boss-created “escape periods” that restrict the time in which public employees can stop financial support of an unwanted union. One of these cases, brought for Chicago Public Schools educators, challenges an “escape period” that limits the exercise of this right to one month per year, while the other brought for New Jersey educators contests a similar period that lasts only ten days per year.
“California CWA union bosses clearly value illegally filling their coffers with Ms. Walker’s money over respecting her First Amendment and due process rights. They created this photo ID requirement out of thin air to block workers from exercising their Janus rights, safe in the knowledge that California’s union dues policies would stifle any chance a public worker has of getting his or her employer to stop seizing dues money for the union,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “By giving union bosses total control over how and when workers can exercise their First Amendment Janus right to stop dues payments, California is allowing the fox to guard the henhouse to the detriment of public employees’ constitutional rights.”
Union must back down after attempting to fine worker who resigned to take a different job, union must inform other workers
Colorado Springs, CO (July 30, 2021) – Following an investigation by National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) officials, a formal settlement has now forced International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 9 union officials to inform workers about their right to resign their union memberships, and that it will not ignore such resignations or mete out internal union discipline on workers who resign.
The settlement comes after Colorado Springs metal worker Russell Chacon filed an unfair labor practice charge at Region 27 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Denver in May after he received a message from Sheet Metal union bosses imposing $21,252 in union disciplinary fines on him. The fines were imposed despite the fact that Chacon had resigned his union membership and left a job at a contractor under Local 9’s power several months earlier to work at a Pueblo facility free from union control. Chacon received free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
Although Sheet Metal union bosses informally rescinded their fine demands soon after Chacon filed his charge, NLRB Region 27 continued to investigate Chacon’s charge that union officials had instigated the discipline specifically in retaliation for his leaving the union. Decades-old federal law prohibits union officials from forcing internal union discipline on workers who have resigned union membership, and from restricting the exercise of that basic right to refrain.
The NLRB found merit in Chacon’s claims of retaliation earlier this month, forcing union officials to settle in order to avoid NLRB prosecution.
Chacon used to work for Colorado Sheet Metal, a Colorado Springs-based contractor whose employees are under the monopoly bargaining power of the Sheet Metal Local 9 union. According to his unfair labor practice charge, he sent a letter to Local 9 union officials resigning his union membership in November 2020 so he could work for Rocky Mechanical, a Pueblo-based firm outside Local 9’s control. The union fine demand, which came several months after his change in jobs, demanded Chacon fork over $21,252 to cover the alleged union “loss of funds” for a period through May 31, which included days that Chacon had not even worked yet.
The settlement requires Sheet Metal union officials to post a notice at the union office stating that they “will not fail to inform or misinform you about the proper process for resigning your membership,” “will not fail to give effect to resignations of membership from the Union,” and “will not restrain and coerce you by instituting and prosecuting disciplinary proceedings and levying fines after failing to give effect to resignations.” The notice also confirms that Chacon is no longer subject to the fine demands.
“As the conclusion of this case shows, Sheet Metal union officials were caught red-handed violating workers’ most basic right to refrain from associating with an organization they don’t want to be part of,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Although we are pleased that Mr. Chacon is no longer saddled with an outrageous fine demand, unfortunately other Colorado workers can still be forced to pay dues to these thuggish union bosses because The Centennial State lacks a Right to Work law.”
Mix continued, “Right to Work protections ensure that all union financial support is strictly voluntary, and no worker can be fired just for refusal to pay dues to unwanted union bosses.”
Supreme Court Orders School Board, Union Officials to File Response Brief
Washington, DC (July 28, 2021) – Amicus support is pouring in from around the country for a U.S. Supreme Court petition filed by two Chicago public school teachers, Ifeoma Nkemdi and Joanne Troesch, with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Their class-action lawsuit against the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Chicago Board of Education challenges a union boss-created “escape period” scheme that blocks workers from exercising their right to terminate dues deductions from their paychecks outside the month of August. In June, Foundation staff attorneys filed the petition for writ of certiorari with the High Court, seeking review of a Court of Appeals decision allowing the “escape period” restriction on the exercise of the teachers’ First Amendment rights recognized in the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision.
Now others are urging the Justices to hear the case.
Attorneys General for Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia filed an amicus brief for their States asking the Supreme Court to hear the teachers’ case challenging the Chicago Teachers Union scheme that locks teachers into union dues payments.
The States’ brief argues union officials are engaging in widespread violation of public employees’ rights under Janus and that the Court ought to hear Troesch and Nkemdi’s case to stop these violations:
In Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, 138 S. Ct. 2448 (2018), this Court held that state employees have a First Amendment right not to be compelled to subsidize union speech. That is because forcing individuals to subsidize speech with which they disagree violates the “bedrock principle” that “no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support.” Harris v. Quinn, 573 U.S. 616, 656 (2014). Unions thus cannot extract dues unless there is “clear and compelling” evidence that the state employee waived his or her First Amendment rights. Janus, 138 S. Ct. at 2486.
But Janus has been ignored. Across the country public-sector unions have resisted Janus’s instructions and devised new ways to compel state employees to subsidize union speech. Unions place onerous terms on dues forms that prohibit state employees from opting out of paying dues except during narrow (and undisclosed) windows during the year. Unions refuse to inform state employees that they have a First Amendment right not to pay union dues. And unions refuse to stop collecting dues despite unequivocal employee demands. The result is that tens of thousands of state employees across the country are having dues deducted to subsidize union speech without any evidence that they waived their First Amendment rights….
This case implicates these precise concerns. Respondents—the Chicago Board of Education (“Board”) and the Chicago Teachers Union (“CTU”), a public sector union—took dues from Petitioners’ wages without proof that the employees waived their First Amendment right not to subsidize the union’s speech. The Seventh Circuit’s decision upholding their actions warrants this Court’s review.
In addition to the 16-State brief, other amicus briefs filed by the Goldwater Institute, Cato Institute, Freedom Foundation, and Liberty Justice Center all bolster the teachers’ argument that the Supreme Court should take up the teachers’ case and ensure that Janus is being fully enforced.
On Tuesday the Court ordered the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Board of Education to file a response brief, a possible signal at least some Justices are interested in taking up the case.
Series of successful worker-led decertifications of Teamsters union bosses nationwide follow federal labor board rule change simplifying process
Chicago, IL (July 26, 2021) – Maintenance workers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago have successfully removed Teamsters Local 743 union officials from their workplace, following a vote in which more than 70% of those who cast ballots voted to free themselves from the Teamsters’ monopoly bargaining power. The election was held after worker Tim Mangia submitted a petition to National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 13 in Chicago demonstrating sufficient support among his coworkers for a decertification vote.
Mangia received free legal aid in filing the petition from a National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorney. The successful ouster is the latest in a string of successful worker-led decertifications of Teamsters officials across the country. Just last month, Frito-Lay salesmen voted Teamsters Local 657 officials out of their monopoly bargaining status in Del Rio, TX, and Eagle Pass, TX, a removal which followed Santa Maria, CA Allied Central Coast Distributing delivery drivers’ April dethroning of Teamsters Local 986 bosses. The workers who submitted petitions requesting decertification votes in each of these cases received legal help from Foundation staff attorneys.
Mangia and his coworkers are employed by Jones Lang Lasalle Americas, Inc. Mangia gathered the necessary signatures from his coworkers and on May 17, 2021 submitted the petition requesting that NLRB Region 13 supervise a secret ballot vote to remove the union. The ballots were counted on July 8 and by July 16 NLRB Region 13 confirmed that the workers had voted 25-8 to eject Teamsters bosses from their workplace.
For almost a year workers have been enjoying an easier pathway to exercising their right to remove unwanted union officials. The NLRB in Washington, DC, in July 2020 enacted new rules governing decertification elections which, drawing from comments Foundation attorneys submitted to the agency earlier that year, now forbid union bosses from indefinitely stalling worker-requested votes based on “blocking charges.” Those charges are allegations against an employer that are often unproven and unrelated to workers’ desire to oust union officials.
In Mangia’s case, the new rules may have prevented union officials from submitting “blocking charges,” as filing them would have neither delayed the election nor stopped the results of the vote from being released.
Had the effort by Mangia and his colleagues to oust Teamsters Local 743 officials been blocked, every full-time employee in Mangia’s workplace would have been forced to continue to suffer under union boss monopoly power. Additionally, the employees would have been forced to pay money from their wages to fund the union boss hierarchy because Illinois lacks Right to Work protections for its workers.
Right to Work protections ensure that no worker can be required to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of keeping his or her job. In a non-Right to Work state like Illinois, workers who choose not to affiliate with a union can still be forced to pay at least a portion of union dues as a condition of employment.
“Although Foundation-backed NLRB rule changes eliminated some of the barriers faced by Mr. Mangia and his coworkers in removing the Teamsters union from their workplace, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that it is wrong for so-called union ‘representation’ to be imposed on even one worker who doesn’t want it,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “States like Illinois which lack Right to Work protections compound the injustice of letting union officials force workers under union representation against their will by also empowering union bosses to threaten workers to pay union dues or else be fired.”
“We will continue to work towards a day when unions can neither impose their so-called ‘representation’ on individual workers against their will, nor force them to fund union activities,” Mix added.
Labor Board Ruling Keeps Union Bosses in Power Despite Unanimous Opposition of Rank-and-File Workers
Every single worker petitioned to remove Carpenters Union bosses as monopoly bargaining ‘representative’ but NLRB won’t even allow a vote
Washington, DC (July 20, 2021) – In March, Region 13 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rejected a petition by a group of Indiana construction workers who wanted to remove union bosses from their workplace. This week, the full NLRB in Washington, DC, sided with union officials and left in place the Region’s decision to dismiss the petition, which had unanimous support from the company’s workers.
None of the employees at Neises Construction Company in Crown Point, Indiana are members of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters union (IKORCC), but federal law empowers IKORCC union bosses to represent these employees as their “exclusive bargaining representative.” With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, Neises employee Mike Halkias submitted a petition to decertify IKORCC officials as the monopoly bargaining agent for him and his coworkers.
Though the petition bore the signature of every member of the bargaining unit, the NLRB regional office rejected the petition, pointing to ongoing litigation between IKORCC and Neises. At the behest of IKORCC officials, the NLRB is seeking to force Neises to bargain with union officials for a union monopoly contract, even though no Neises employee is an IKORCC member or supports the union. The Region used the pending case against the employer to justify dismissing the workers’ petition for a decertification vote.
Foundation attorneys argued in their appeal to the full NLRB that the employer’s dispute with IKORCC bosses did not take away the workers’ right to remove the unwanted union. As the appeal stated, “Halkias and his fellow employees are not children, but freethinking individuals who have the right to dislike the Union for a host of reasons having nothing to do with Neises or the Union’s unproven, unadjudicated allegations.” The appeal implored the Board to, at the very least, investigate whether the alleged employer wrongdoing had diminished the employees’ ability to make an informed choice about union boss “representation.”
Instead, the Board denied the appeal, accepting the Region and union officials’ reasoning that the pending employer charges should block the workers’ request for a vote, leaving the nine workers under union “representation” they unanimously oppose.
“It is simply outrageous that federal law lets union bosses force workers to accept unions’ so-called ‘representation’ against their will – even when workers unanimously oppose the union,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “Federal law purports to protect workers’ ‘freedom of association’ and to ensure union representation ‘is of their own choosing,’ however, as this case demonstrates, the NLRB frequently protects union boss power to the detriment of workers’ freedom.”
“This outcome shows how federal labor law is broken,” added Mix. “These workers simply want a vote to remove a union they oppose, yet the NLRB response is not only to block any such vote but also to seek to force their employer to bargain further with a union supported by precisely zero rank-and-file workers.”
Union lawyers withdrew dilatory election objections after worker obtained assistance from Foundation attorneys
Las Vegas, NV (July 13, 2021) – Tammy Tarantino, a respiratory therapist at Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center in Las Vegas, successfully petitioned for a vote to remove SEIU union bosses from her workplace. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Nevada Regional office initially delayed Tarantino’s vote request, but scheduled an election once she obtained free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
SEIU bosses had a monopoly over contract bargaining for Tarantino and her coworkers, all technical employees at the hospital. Tarantino filed a petition for a decertification election to remove SEIU bosses with NLRB Region 28 after collecting the requisite number of signatures from dozens of her coworkers. The Region initially resisted her petition, telling her it might not be possible to schedule a vote. In their effort to stop the workers from voting, SEIU lawyers raised issues designed to block the election, relying on pending and past charges it had filed against the hospital. Though these charges did not allege anything illegal affecting Tarantino’s petition the Union argued the election must be blocked.
Tarantino eventually enlisted the free legal assistance of Foundation staff attorneys, who filed a response to union lawyers’ arguments. The response pointed out that the union lawyers were ignoring updates to the NLRB’s rules on “blocking charges,” charges against employers used to block workers’ votes to oust union officials. Thanks to reforms pushed by the Foundation, decertification elections now can proceed more quickly and the results are announced sooner. Under the old rules, “blocking charges” that had no impact on employees’ desire to decertify the union could still be used to stall decertification votes.
Tarantino’s response further argued union lawyers hadn’t filed their objections in a timely manner, which thus could not be considered even if they hadn’t relied on outdated rules. Once the response was filed, SEIU lawyers signed a stipulated election agreement allowing the decertification vote to move forward.
During the NLRB-supervised election, which took place over July 7-8, the members of Tarantino’s unit voted 39-13 to remove SEIU bosses from their workplace. Employees must now wait until July 15 to see whether the union files “objections.”
“Instead of respecting the will of the workers they supposedly represent, SEIU bosses took advantage of the system and attempted to block the vote requested by Tammy Tarantino and her coworkers,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “No worker should be forced to accept the so-called representation of union bosses they do not support. While we’re pleased that Tarantino got her vote, and that Foundation-backed blocking charge reforms worked as intended, workers shouldn’t need the assistance of an attorney to prevent unpopular union bosses from bargaining for them.”