Union Endorsements of Jeb Bush’s Opponent Further Show White House Appeasement of Union Officials Has Backfired
Tallahassee, Fla. (October 22, 2002) – In another stinging rejection of the Bush administration’s strategy to cozy up to the union hierarchy, the Florida Education Association (FEA) union has admitted that it has mortgaged its state headquarters building to raise more than $1.5 million to finance the defeat President George W. Bush’s brother in Florida’s gubernatorial election.
As revealed this week in an investigative report by National Review Online, “$1.7 million in equity the FEA sucked out of its South Adams Street building” was earmarked nearly two years ago for the explicit purpose of pummeling Jeb Bush in order to embarrass President Bush, even though many rank-and-file teachers support the Bush brothers.
“The union hierarchy is going all out to defeat Governor Jeb Bush and humiliate the president,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is the gratitude the White House has been given for bending over backwards for union officials over the past 18 months.”
The teacher union’s actions – taken despite the Bush administration having given the union hierarchy and Senator Ted Kennedy virtually everything they demanded in the budget-busting education bill – are the latest sign that the White House’s strategy to court top union officials has backfired. The administration’s core policy concessions have not blunted ongoing attacks by union officials on Bush or other Republicans – but have begun to alienate the president’s natural base.
For example, over past eighteen months, the White House political office has: 1) given Teamsters and Carpenters officials significant influence over selection of nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB); 2) encouraged Congress not to hold hearings on legislation that would be embarrassing to union officials, such as legislation to end compulsory unionism; 3) filed arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court opposing review of a NLRB decision that gutted employee rights not to pay forced union dues spent to support objectionable union activities; 4) inserted a discriminatory union-only project labor agreement in the Alaska energy legislation; and 5) signaled its intention to release the corrupt Teamsters union from federal oversight.
Despite these concessions, union officials continue to put their political money and muscle behind liberal Democrats. For example, based on an analysis of PAC giving in tight Senate and House races, over 95 percent of Big Labor’s contributions – including those made by the Carpenters and Teamsters union PACs – still go to Democrats. Meanwhile, despite the White House’s appeasement of the Teamsters union hierarchy, the union just endorsed Bill McBride, Jeb Bush’s opponent in the Florida gubernatorial election.
“By pursuing this appeasement strategy, the White House has been alienating its Right to Work base, and, even if it were worth it, they’ve gotten nothing in return,” stated Gleason.
Oxnard, Calif. (October 16, 2002) – In response to charges filed by Lynn Laird, a local psychologist, officials with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 998 must recognize Laird’s status as a religious objector and divert her forced union fees to a mutually agreed upon charity.
With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation, Laird filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after the SEIU union hierarchy initially refused to accommodate Laird’s sincere religious beliefs.
“No one should be forced to support a union and agenda that they find morally offensive,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is a fight to protect people of faith from being harassed by union bosses.”
In January 2001, Laird learned that the SEIU and its affiliates were advocating public funding for abortion, and notified union officials of her intention to assert her right as a religious objector under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Under the law, union officials must attempt to accommodate sincere religious objectors by allowing employees to make charitable contributions in lieu of paying the mandatory union fees.
Rather than comply with the law, SEIU officials diverted Laird’s would-be dues to a charity whose record of animal testing also violated her sincere Christian beliefs. Once the Ventura County Humane Society was decided upon as a mutually agreed upon charity, union officials refused to pay fees to the charity retroactively to cover the period during which the complaint was processed. The union also refused to assume the cost of any future grievances Laird files, even though she is paying an amount equal to union fees to charity.
“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Teachers across the country, regardless of their faith, are being shaken down to pay for this radical agenda,” said Gleason. “Without the protections of a Right to Work law, Californians will continue to suffer discrimination as a result of forced unionism.”
While Presidential Action Could Reopen West Coast Ports, Federal Labor Policy is to Blame for Crisis
Washington, D.C. (October 8, 2002) – The following is a statement from Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation on President Bush’s decision to intervene and invoke the Taft-Hartley Act provisions to halt the West Coast ports shutdown involving the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU):
“Using the union special privileges granted by federal labor law, a small group of union officials have been empowered to hold America’s economy hostage. President Bush’s decision to seek a temporary injunction to open the West Coast ports for shipping is only a temporary solution to a much larger problem.
“If the president is serious about protecting America’s economy and security, he must work to end compulsory unionism in the form of monopoly bargaining and forced union dues. This power gives union officials control over union treasuries, union offices, strike votes, and contract negotiations without fear of workers exercising any practical restraint.
“Union officials have a long history of exploiting national security and economic crises to seek more power. During the Second World War, Big Labor waged 13,000 strikes and work stoppages to impose forced unionism on hundreds of thousands of workers. By the end of World War II, more than 78 percent of unionized employees were governed by contracts that required them to pay union dues as a condition of employment, a fourfold increase. ”
October 7, 2002
By Stefan Gleason, Vice President
National Right to Work
As the Senate considers denying President George W. Bush managerial flexibility at the proposed Department of Homeland Security, the union brass are proving again that reports of their political demise are greatly exaggerated. Union officials have managed to convince Senate Democrats to make a risky political bet by voting against the president on a vital national security issue — and just one month before an election.
But the real sticking point in the debate over the homeland security bill is over expansion of union coercive privileges — not civil service protections, as union spokesmen have claimed. The union hierarchy wants to require the president of the United States to get their permission before implementing personnel decisions necessary to cut through crippling bureaucracy and improve national security. Such a requirement would change existing policy and bog down the administration in protracted union negotiations over petty matters.
Sadly, union officials have employed this strategy of reaching for power during previous periods of national crisis as well. Take their spectacular successes during World War II.
Big labor’s World War II power-grab began in 1941, when the federal government became more deeply involved in key defense-related industries. Realizing that their leverage would increase due to the national crisis, union officials instigated a series of 13,000 often violent and crippling strikes.
In one of the most notorious of these strikes, mineworkers union bosses shut down the coal mines owned by steel firms (steel was, of course, vital to the war effort). Union officials’ chief demand was that all mining employees be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment. When a federal agency recommended a settlement that did not include this requirement, President Franklin D. Roosevelt turned the matter over to an arbitrator who ruled in the union’s favor.
As more U.S. industries became enmeshed in war production, the Roosevelt administration repeatedly used so-called “labor peace” as an excuse to rope hundreds of thousands more individuals into compulsory unionism.
Toward that end, Roosevelt created the National War Labor Board (NWLB) and gave it authority over just about every industry in wartime America. In July 1942, the NWLB revealed its loyalty to the union hierarchy when it ruled that workers may not resign their union memberships for the entire length of a union’s collective bargaining contract. Before World War II, only 20 percent of unionized employees were governed by contracts that required forced union dues payments as a job condition. By 1947, that percentage shot up to 78 percent — where it remains today.
In spite of all the efforts to placate Big Labor, however, “labor peace” never did develop during the war. The number of strikes rose 26 percent in 1943, and 32 percent in 1944, and declined by only 4 percent in 1945.
Labor expert Donald R. Richberg, in his 1957 book, “Labor Union Monopoly: A Clear And Present Danger,” detailed the “exasperation with which a war-stricken people had watched the unions take advantage of war necessities to force unreasonable demands on private industry and government.” This was, in Mr. Richberg’s words, “a disgraceful record for ‘patriotic’ labor.”
True to form, union officials have also used the horrifying attacks of September 11 as cover for their march for increased government-granted privileges.
Only two days after al Qaeda toppled the World Trade Center towers, for example, Democrat Sens. Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton rammed a bill that one union dubbed “the largest expansion of labor [union] rights considered by Congress in decades” through a closed-door Senate committee without a single word of testimony or even a recorded vote. Later, they tried to sneak it through the Senate by unanimous consent. And in November, union-allied senators attempted to push through the legislation via an amendment to a “must pass” appropriations bill.
Through these shameless maneuvers, Mr. Kennedy and Mrs. Clinton sought to federally mandate that all state and local governments anoint union officials as the monopoly bargaining agents for local police, firefighters, paramedics, and other public safety officers — even in jurisdictions that have wisely banned this form of compulsory unionism.
Fortunately for the many dedicated public servants who don’t want union officials and crippling workplace rules to disrupt their important work, some senators spoke out against the proposed expansion of union coercive power. “We appreciate our firemen and we appreciate our policemen, but forcing people to pay union dues is not a way to show appreciation,” said Sen. Phil Gramm.
Now, during the debate over union privileges inserted by Senate Democrats into the Homeland Security bill, union bosses are adopting a tone of outraged innocence while loudly proclaiming their dedication to national security. But their actions prove otherwise, and their long record of exploiting national crises to increase their power should stiffen the resolve of right-minded senators to stand with the president.
Stefan Gleason is vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation, a Springfield, Va.-based organization.
Washington, D.C. (October 2, 2002) – The National Right to Work Foundation today blasted officials of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) for exploiting America’s economic crisis and concerns over national security to increase their power by forcing the shutdown of all West Coast shipping ports.
Using a variety of work slowdown tactics, including deliberately understaffing key operations and sending workers to jobs for which they were not qualified, ILWU officials made it impossible for the ports to function. Experts have estimated that the shutdown of West Coast ports will cost the American economy $1 billion each day.
“With actions taken directly from the union playbook used during other periods of crisis, ILWU officials have chosen to use their increased leverage to make unreasonable 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.”
Resulting from the many union coercive powers created by federal labor law, ILWU officials have been empowered to interfere with the ability of thousands of workers to support their families. For example, union officials may lawfully deny employees any opportunity to vote on their employer’s contract offer. Meanwhile, few employees dare to object to the union’s tactics. Workers who disagree with union demands often face hefty fines, harassment, and union violence.
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 hundreds 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 II, more than 78 percent of unionized employees were governed by contracts that required them to pay union dues as a condition of employment, a fourfold increase.
Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr., has announced a newly formed “Neutrality/Card Check Task Force” composed of Staff Attorneys experienced in litigation under the National Labor Relations Act. The Foundation has formed this task force to provide legal assistance to employees who are victimized by a pernicious and spreading scheme of union officials and politicians to force compulsory union representation on workers.
The background is as follows: Although so-called “neutrality agreements” come in several different forms, the common denominator is that an employer is pressured into staying “neutral” with regard to a union’s attempt to organize its workforce. Neutrality agreements commonly give the union access to employees in the form of a list of their names, addresses and telephone numbers, as well as permission to come on company property during work hours for the purpose of collecting union authorization cards. This differs from the guidelines set by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the courts, under which an employer has no obligation to, and may actually be prohibited from, providing the union with such sweeping access to its employees.
Most neutrality agreements also include a “card check” agreement. Under such an agreement, the employees are not permitted to vote on union representation in a secret ballot election monitored by the NLRB. Instead, the employer pledges to automatically recognize the union without an election if the union presents the company with the requisite number of signed authorization cards. Experience shows that many employees are coerced or misled into signing these authorization cards, often being falsely told that they are merely health insurance enrollment forms, non-binding “statements of interest,” requests for an election, or even tax forms.
Some employers are pressured into neutrality agreements by union picketing, threats, or comprehensive “corporate campaigns.” Even more ominously, we see a growing trend in which state and local politicians pass laws mandating that any employer who wishes to do business with the state or locality must sign such neutrality agreements. In one notorious case, the San Francisco Airport Authority mandated that any concessionaires who wished to lease space at the airport had to first sign a neutrality/card check agreement. That governmental interference in private labor relations was held to be federally preempted, and was enjoined, in Aeroground, Inc. v. City & County of San Francisco, 170 F. Supp. 2d 950 (N.D. Cal. 2001). Unfortunately, many politicians still require such neutrality/charge check agreements as a condition of contracting with the government or of obtaining grants, even though most, if not all, such requirements are unlawful under federal law.
Because employees’ rights of free choice are being sacrificed and lost by coercive “neutrality and card check” agreements, the Foundation has established its new Neutrality/Card Check Task Force to help employees who find themselves forced (or potentially forced) into unwanted union representation as a result of these devices. The Foundation stands ready, willing and able to help employees who are victims or potential victims of these schemes. Workers who wish to request assistance may write us, call us toll-free at 800-336-3600, or send an e-mail message to [email protected]. Address your request for assistance to Legal Department.
Springfield, Va. (September 27, 2002) — Stefan Gleason, Vice President of National Right to Work, is scheduled to appear on MSNBC’s Buchanan & Press on Monday, September 30.
Gleason will debate a top government union official regarding the controversy surrounding the union special privileges that Senate Democrats have inserted into legislation authorizing President Bush’s Homeland Security department. The President has threatened to veto the legislation if it does not allow him management flexibility relating to vital national security personnel.
The national television program airs Monday afternoon between 2 and 4 p.m., eastern time, with the Right to Work segment beginning at 3:00 p.m.
Los Angeles, Calif. (September 26, 2002) — On the eve of Congressional hearings into the national epidemic of union violence, the Los Angeles County Superior Court rejected an attempt by union lawyers to block a worker’s civil suit that was filed after a vicious union beating following a 2001 strike at Hollander Home Fashions.
Issuing its ruling from the bench on Wednesday, the court rejected an attempt by lawyers for the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) to dismiss Matthew Kahn’s suit. This will allow the victim’s claims of civil conspiracy, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress to proceed without delay. The court also declined to limit Kahn’s ability to collect civil damages resulting from the union assault and will allow full discovery into the union’s role in the beating.
“This ruling is a small first step toward forcing UNITE to account for its role in this cowardly assault on an innocent man,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “However, because of the numerous special exemptions for union violence enshrined in federal and state criminal and civil laws, Matthew Kahn still faces an uphill battle.”
With the help of attorneys provided by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Kahn, an employee of Labor Ready, filed suit against UNITE for damages incurred in May 2001 resulting from an apparently premeditated attack by UNITE Organizing Director Ramiro Hernandez and several other union militants that left Kahn with several head lacerations and other injuries. According to the complaint, the union bailed Hernandez out of jail after the assault and continued to employ him. Later investigation showed that Hernandez possesses an extensive arrest record for union-related misconduct.
In United States v. Enmons (1973), the U.S. Supreme Court held that strike-related violence cannot be prosecuted under the Hobbs Act, which criminalizes the obstruction of interstate commerce through violence, threat, or coercion. Numerous other states have enacted similar special exemptions for enforcement of criminal laws during strikes. As a result, thousands of acts of violence (usually directed against non-striking workers) have gone unpunished. In 1999, Governor Gray Davis signed a bill limiting civil liability for unions and union officers that commit acts of violence.
Unfortunately, the vicious union beating of Matthew Kahn is not an isolated incident. The National Institute for Labor Relations Research has recorded almost 10,000 media-reported incidents of union violence since 1975. Experts on labor- and strike-related violence estimate that unreported acts of harassment, vandalism, and violence could swell that figure to 100,000 or more.
Monday, September 30, 2002
12:00 p.m. (Luncheon to follow)
Stefan Gleason, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation;
Myron Lieberman, Social Policy and Philosophy Center;
Mark Levin, Landmark Legal Foundation.
The Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are currently the major opponents of school choice and other positive education reforms. In this forum, speakers from three organizations battling the teacher unions will discuss the strategic steps necessary to break the stranglehold that the NEA and AFT currently have on teachers and politics.
Stefan Gleason will give an overview of the national legal and legislative battles underway to dismantle the special privileges that the NEA and AFT use to maintain their dominance over teachers and politics.
Mark Levin will discuss complaints filed with three government agencies against the NEA for underreporting political expenditures.
Myron Lieberman will discuss his new Cato Policy Analysis outlining a proposal for allowing other groups to compete with the NEA and AFT in representing teachers.
Cato policy forums and luncheons are free of charge. To register for this event, please go to http://www.cato.org/events/020930pf.html or call Julie Cullifer by 12:00 p.m., Friday, September 27, 2002, at (202) 789-5229, fax her at (202) 371-0841, or e-mail to [email protected]
News media inquiries only (no registrations), please call (202) 842-0200 x800.
If you can’t make it to the Cato Institute, watch this forum live online.
Chula Vista, Calif. (September 24, 2002) — With the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, two employees of Raytheon Technical Services Company filed charges against union officials for refusing to honor their resignations from the union, threatening them with internal union “disciplinary” charges, and continuing to illegally charge full union dues, including dues spent for politics.
The employees, Brent Bull and Michael Adams, filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Electronic and Space Technicians (EST) Local 1553 and its affiliate, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters (SWRCC). The workers claim union officials are demanding they pay full union dues, and face disciplinary fines, to punish them for resigning their membership and participating in efforts to decertify the union.
“This is a clear case of union bosses refusing to respect the rights of the 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 egregiously abuse that federally granted special privilege.”
The charges also allege that union officials never informed any of the workers at the facility of their rights to refrain from union membership. As part of the complaint, Adams and Bull want EST Local 1553 to return all of the money that is being illegally seized and used for activities unrelated to collective bargaining, including union organizing and political activities. They also want the union to drop its “disciplinary” charges.
“When union bosses will not tell workers what their rights are, it is clear they have something to hide,” 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 specifically inform employees of their right to refrain from formal, full dues-paying union membership before seizing any forced union dues.