Chattanooga, Tenn. (May 5, 2003) — Responding to charges brought by an employee of Van Heusen Company, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) forced Teamsters Local Union 515 to eliminate key contract provisions that violated the rights of non-union employees.
Enjoying free legal aid from attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Sheila Elliot filed unfair labor practice charges against the Teamsters union.
As part of their contract with Van Heusen, Teamsters officials required the company to encourage all associate employees to become and remain full union members – despite the existence of Tennessee’s Right to Work law. Teamsters Local Union 515 officials attempted to use the clause to force workers into joining the union and to waive their right to refrain from union activities.
“This settlement will give Elliot, and her coworkers, the freedom to decide for themselves if they want to join the union, without being forced into it by Teamsters union bosses,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “It is clear union officials were using these tactics to try and get around Tennessee’s Right to Work law.”
Under the state’s highly popular and effective Right to Work law, non-union employees are freed from paying membership dues to an unwanted union as a condition of employment.
In an attempt to undermine Right to Work laws around the country, Teamsters union officials are enlisting companies to help them pressure workers into joining the union. Employees laboring in America’s 22 Right to Work states have the right to refrain from union affiliation without interference from officials of a union or an employer.
“Teamsters officials wrote this agreement as a direct assault on Right to Work laws around the country,” stated Gleason. “As more workers enjoy the benefits of a Right to Work law, union bosses are turning to more strong-arm tactics to take away their freedoms.”
San Francisco, Calif. (May 2, 2003) — An employee of Swissport Corporation filed federal charges against officials of a local machinists union for illegally delaying the efforts of workers in the course of a successful election to strip the union hierarchy of its power to get employees fired for refusal to pay union dues.
Enjoying free legal aid provided by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Kirk Williams, a non-union member at Swissport, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the International Association of Machinists (IAM) union District Lodge 190, Local 1414.
“This is a clear example of union bosses doing everything they can to try and keep workers in the grasp of compulsory unionism,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
Last October, Swissport employees voted by a margin of 212-11 in the NLRB-supervised deauthorization election to remove the mandatory dues provision in the collective bargaining agreement with IAM union District Lodge 190, Local 1414. Despite the overwhelming vote, however, the IAM and its lawyers tried to overturn the election on the grounds that Swissport illegally intervened. The NLRB rejected all of the union’s claims as unsubstantiated.
Williams decided to seek the deauthorization election after becoming frustrated that IAM union officials were indifferent to the needs of the rank-and-file.
To trigger the deauthorization election, Williams needed to obtain signatures from at least 30 percent of his coworkers. Once that occurred, an absolute majority of workers in the bargaining unit had to vote “yes.” This requirement for an absolute majority established by the National Labor Relations Act is more difficult for employees to attain than the standard for certifying or decertifying a union, which requires only a majority of those actually voting.
Though federal law still denies the employees their right to bargain with their employer individually on their own merits, IAM union officials may no longer compel Swissport employees to pay for unwanted union representation.
Chula Vista, Calif. (May 1, 2003) — Responding to charges brought by two employees of Raytheon Technical Services, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will prosecute the Electronic and Space Technicians (EST) Local 1553 and its affiliate, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters (SWRCC) for unfair labor practices.
Enjoying free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation, Michael Adams and Brent Bull filed the charges against EST and SWRCC union officials for refusing to honor their resignations from the union, and for threatening them with internal union “disciplinary” charges. The NLRB has set a trial date for August 11, 2003.
“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Union bosses routinely trample the rights of workers they claim to represent,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “No one should be forced to pay compulsory dues to a union, especially when its officials continually abuse that federally granted special privilege.”
As part of their charges, Bull and Adams, and sixteen other employees, also allege that union officials never properly informed any of the workers at the facility of their rights to refrain from formal, full-dues-paying union membership. The workers are also demanding the union drop its “disciplinary” charges, and properly inform workers of their rights.
“This shows that union bosses are more concerned with keeping workers in line rather than actually respecting the rights of the workers they are supposed to be protecting,” said Gleason.
EST and SWRCC union officials’ actions violated the workers’ rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Pattern Makers v. NLRB decision. Under Pattern Makers, unions must accept all resignations from union members, and they cannot threaten or discipline employees because they choose to resign from the union.
Orlando, FL. (April 30, 2003) — After finding merit to unfair labor practice charges brought by eleven union-abused employees of Agere Systems (formerly Lucent Technologies), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) brokered a settlement agreement which forces union officials to cease all threats of fines and vandalism to the non-striking workers’ vehicles.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys assisted Alan Olds and similarly abused Agere Systems employees in filing the charges at the NLRB after International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 2000 officials illegally threatened retaliation against employees who continued to work during a 1998 strike.
The settlement requires IBEW union officials to post a notice for 60 days, conspicuously at locations within Agere Systems’ main office, informing workers of their right to withdraw immediately at any time from union membership. The notice will also state that all resignations will be accepted, and that non-union workers need not fear retaliation from the union hierarchy in the form of vandalism, retaliatory fines, or other intimidation tactics used by IBEW union agents. Union officials must rescind disciplinary fines of as much as $1,790 per worker.
“The bully-boy tactics employed by IBEW officials to silence employee dissent are despicable,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Unfortunately, even in states like Florida where important Right to Work protections exist, many workers still suffer intimidation at the hands of union bosses.”
The workers filed charges in the fall of 1998, after IBEW Local 2000 officials ordered them off the job during a strike against Lucent Technologies. As the strike progressed, many workers wished to exercise their right to resign from the union and return to work. When workers started exercising their Right to Work, IBEW union officials misled scores of workers by telling them that they could not resign from the union.
Under the Supreme Court’s Patternmakers v. NLRB decision, employees who wish to resign from a union may do so simply by sending a resignation letter to the union. One day after the letter is postmarked, they can return to their jobs without facing union-imposed strike fines.
Oklahoma City, Okla. (April 29, 2003) – Ironically arguing that the state of Oklahoma cannot protect the right to join a union, union lawyers have successfully stalled a final decision as to whether Oklahoma’s popular Right to Work constitutional amendment will be upheld.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit – based in Denver – has ruled that certain provisions of the Right to Work law are preempted by federal law, but has referred to the Oklahoma State Supreme Court the state law question as to whether the core of the law is “severable” and will ultimately be allowed to stand.
“This is a last ditch effort by union bosses to defy the will of Oklahoma’s voters, who decisively rejected Big Labor’s self-serving propaganda and scare tactics by establishing a statewide policy of voluntary unionism,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, whose legal-aid attorneys have been representing employees defending the Right to Work law from this union attack.
“Oklahoma citizens are already reaping the economic benefits of the new Right to Work Law, to say nothing of the additional protection of individual rights that it provides. That is why union operatives are so angry.”
In September 2001, Oklahoma voters enacted State Question 695, making Oklahoma the nation’s twenty-second Right to Work state. The Right to Work constitutional amendment bans the widespread union practice of forcing workers to join an unwanted union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.
In November 2001, the Oklahoma AFL-CIO, six local unions, and a heavily unionized company filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma to overturn the amendment. The U.S. District Court ruled favorably on motions submitted by Governor Frank Keating’s legal team and attorneys for the National Right to Work Foundation, who represented three Oklahoma workers in defending the law.
The District Court held that, as in other states, the Right to Work law cannot be enforced with regard to employees covered by the Railway Labor Act (RLA) or employees of the federal government. But the law clearly and constitutionally protects employees who work for private companies under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The Tenth Circuit in a ruling issued recently held that the provision in Oklahoma’s Right to Work Law that protects the right to join a union is also preempted by the NLRA (which already protects that very right), and thus can only be enforced as to public employees in the state. The State Supreme Court must now decide whether the preempted provisions of the law are severable from the core of the law, which establishes the right of employees not to join or financially support an unwanted union.
Teacher Files Suit to Establish Right of Union Members to Withhold Funds Spent for Union Political Agenda
Benton, Tenn. (April 24, 2003) — In a rare challenge to the coercive power of union officials to compel teachers to support political activities as a condition of union membership, a Polk County teacher filed suit against the National Education Association (NEA) affiliates in Tennessee for expelling him from the union because he objected to supporting their political activities.
Dewey Esquinance, with the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation, filed the suit against the NEA’s affiliates, the Polk County Education Association (PCEA) and the Tennessee Education Association (TEA), in the state of Tennessee Circuit Court of Polk County.
If victorious, Esquinance’s suit will result in either 1) the right for full union members to withhold union dues spent for ideological activity without losing their right to vote on the collective bargaining agreements that bind them, or 2) a ruling striking down union monopoly bargaining power — also known as “exclusive representation”– as unconstitutional under the Tennessee constitution.
“This case will test whether NEA officials care more about actually representing workers, or simply shaking them down to finance their radical political agenda,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
In September 2002, Esquinance joined the PCEA and began paying full union dues, even though he objected to the NEA’s political agenda. When Esquinance notified union officials that he wanted to remain a full union member, but only pay for activities related to collective bargaining, union officials informed him his union membership was terminated and there was no appeal process.
Esquinance objects to the NEA and its affiliates using his dues to promote a political agenda that takes pro-abortion, pro-race preferences, and pro-homosexuality positions. The NEA is one of the most politically active unions in the country; every year it seizes millions of dollars in compulsory dues to support candidates and causes that many teachers members find objectionable.
However, as a non-member Esquinance loses several privileges that union members enjoy, including voting on the collective bargaining agreement that binds him to certain terms and conditions of employment, as well as a voice in determining the criteria for teacher evaluations, control of sick bank donations, and access to teacher training. As a non-union member, Esquinance would automatically forfeit these benefits.
Esquinance is challenging the membership dues based on the rights established by the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Under Abood and subsequent rulings, employees have a constitutional right to refuse to pay for union non-collective bargaining activities and ideological activities — such as politics.
Washington, D.C. (April 22, 2003) – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today upheld President George W. Bush’s Executive Order requiring federal contractors to post notices informing employees that they cannot be compelled to join a union or pay union dues spent for partisan politics or other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
The 2-1 decision overturns a previous ruling from the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia that invalidated the President’s Executive Order. In addition to defending the order as amicus curiae in the case, the National Right to Work Foundation had called upon the Bush administration to appeal the District Court’s original decision and delivered over 100,000 signed grassroots petitions urging President Bush to defend his Executive Order from union attack.
“This ruling is a step toward informing employees they have the right not to be shaken down to pay for union political activities,” stated Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “No employee should be forced to fund a political agenda they abhor as a job condition.”
Signed on February 17, 2001, Executive Order 13201 would affect a segment of the 12 million American employees compelled to pay union dues as a condition of employment, as it requires companies with federal contracts to inform workers of their rights under the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Communications Workers v. Beck. Bush’s father issued a similar Executive Order in April of 1992 that was immediately revoked at the request of union officials when President Clinton took office in 1993.
Additionally, the Clinton National Labor Relations Board stonewalled the enforcement of these precious employee protections, often leaving many cases languishing within the bureaucracy for six or more years. To this day, the NLRB has failed to enforce the Beck decision aggressively.
In January 2002, Judge Henry H. Kennedy of the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia enjoined the implementation of the President’s directive on the grounds that the action was preempted by Congress – despite the fact that Bush’s Executive Order only seeks to enforce the Supreme Court’s interpretation of congressionally enacted law. In May 2001, a group of unions filed the case, known as UAW-Labor Employment and Training Corporation et al. v. Chao et al.
Las Vegas, Nev. (April 21, 2003) — The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and ruled it is a violation of federal law for union officials to arbitrarily expel workers from an exclusive union hiring hall, deny them the ability to obtain work, and offer them no means of reinstatement.
The court’s ruling comes in a case brought by Las Vegas-area worker Steven Lucas, with the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation, challenging a ruling from the Clinton-NLRB. In 1999, the NLRB ruled in favor of union officials from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 720 who faced unfair labor practice charges after expelling Lucas from the hiring hall and arbitrarily denying him any possibility for future reinstatement.
“Employees should not face arbitrary and vindictive tactics at the hands of union bosses when running their hiring hall monopolies,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Through their mistreatment of Lucas, union officials were sending a message to other employees that the union hierarchy rules the roost.”
Lucas was a union member from 1981-1992 and used the hiring hall until 1994, when union officials illegally and arbitrarily expelled him from the hiring hall. By not allowing Lucas to be reinstated in the hiring hall, IATSE union officials denied him opportunities to work in the Las Vegas trade show and convention industry.
Even though Nevada has a highly popular and effective Right to Work law that frees nonunion employees from paying membership dues to an unwanted union, IATSE union officials use their monopoly bargaining privileges to set up exclusive hiring halls. In such halls, the union decides which employees to refer for work at conventions and trade shows, and the workers are forced to pay the union to be eligible for work.
“Hiring halls allow union officials to undermine state Right to Work laws which are supposed to protect employees from compulsory unionism abuse,” stated Gleason. “The Ninth Circuit ruling gives workers a measure of protection from this corrupt system.”
Washington, D.C. (April 15, 2003) – The National Right to Work Foundation today blasted officials of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union for continuing to exploit America’s national security concerns for private gain by shutting down warplane production for the U.S. military.
Directly from the union playbook used during other periods of national crisis, the strike at Lockheed Martin’s key Fort Worth, Texas, facility threatens to halt production of the F/A-22 jet fighter, which will replace the F-16 jet fighter. By ordering a strike, IAM union officials are attempting to force workers to put their allegiance to the union ahead of their employer and their country. In the past, workers who have decided to continue working have been the victims of hefty fines, harassment, and union violence.
The Foundation announced it will provide free legal aid to workers seeking to honor their commitments to their families by continuing to work during the strike free from union retaliation.
“Big Labor’s actions are callous and opportunistic. True to form they are exploiting a national crisis to force acceptance of their excessive demands,” stated Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “This is a perfect example of why workers should be freed from government-backed forced unionism, which gives union bosses a virtual stranglehold over workers’ jobs and America’s economy.”
In March 2002, IAM union operatives also attempted to use strikes to halt production of the F-22 jet fighter and C130-J military transport planes, which were being used at the time by American forces in Afghanistan as part of the war on terrorism.
Union officials have a long history of using national crises to expand their power and influence. During the Second World War, Big Labor used strikes and work stoppages to impose forced unionism on hundred of thousands of workers. In the most notorious of these strikes, union officials were able to shut down vital iron mines and ultimately persuaded the federal government to mandate that all mining employees pay union dues as a condition of employment.
By the end of World War Two, over 78 percent of unionized employees were governed by contracts that required them to pay union dues as a condition of employment, an increase by a factor of four.
In addition to the threat of strikes, union operatives have used the terrorist attacks on September 11 to try and advance forced unionism on Capitol Hill. In the days following the attack, union lobbyists attempted to push a bill that would impose forced unionism on police and fire-fighters, but so far have been defeated in their efforts. Union officials have described the bill, which was passed out of Ted Kennedy’s Senate Labor Committee last year without even a hearing, as “the largest expansion of labor (union) rights considered by Congress in decades.”
Milwaukee, Wis. (April 10, 2003) – Citing the expiration of a six-month statute of limitations, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) avoided adjudicating unfair labor practice charges filed against Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union for jointly coercing employees to sign union authorization cards as part of a so-called “neutrality” agreement.
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys will appeal the dismissal of the first-of-its-kind case to the NLRB’s General Counsel in Washington, DC. Meanwhile, the Foundation is stepping up its efforts to locate union-abused employees in the many other JCI workplaces where the statute of limitations may not yet have expired.
“We are committed to protecting workers from having their rights trampled under these insidious so-called ‘neutrality’ agreements,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “As union operatives increasingly use this organizing tactic to impose compulsory unionism on employees, we are certain that more individuals will come forward to challenge this new type of employer-union collusion.”
Robert Walach, a non-union member, filed the charges in January against JCI and the UAW union challenging the so-called “neutrality” agreement as a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. As part of the agreement, workers are denied the ability to reject unionization through a secret ballot election, and union operatives are permitted to attain the appearance of support by using the notoriously abusive “card check” authorization scheme. Once UAW officials sign up a majority of the workers, JCI agrees to declare the union as the exclusive representative of all its workers, even those who did not sign a card.
Bowing to pressure brought by UAW union operatives, JCI originally signed the pact last summer to halt crippling strikes staged by UAW officials at various unionized JCI facilities. Under the agreement union organizers are given full access to non-union employees’ personal information at the company’s 26 non-union facilities. The company’s non-union employees are forced to attend “captive audience” speeches in which they are told that, if they do not support the union’s organizing effort, they could risk losing potential job opportunities from Big Three automakers.
Union operatives increasingly use “neutrality agreements” and other “top-down” organizing techniques to force employers to recognize unions without a vote by the workers. The National Right to Work Foundation’s legal challenge to this tactic is the first of its kind.