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.
Oceanside, Calif. (April 9, 2003) — With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, three City of Oceanside police officers filed charges with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) against the local policemens’ union hierarchy for overtly discriminating against them as non-union members.
Led by Detective Bobbie Joe Garza, the officers filed the unfair labor practice charges after the Oceanside Police Officers Association (OPOA) union illegally attempted to collect forced dues from their paychecks without providing an independent audit of how the forced fees were spent.
The OPOA union officials’ actions violate California statutes and regulations that are intended to protect an employee’s right to refrain from formal membership, and not pay for activities unrelated to collective bargaining- such as union political activity. The charges seek to cease attempts to collect forced dues from all non-union members by the OPOA union until it provides an independently audited calculation of its costs.
“This is a shakedown scam pulled by government union bosses to keep money pouring into their political coffers,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This violation of these officers’ constitutional rights is symptomatic of the union’s emphasis on playing politics rather than representing employees.”
Last month, OPOA union officials began illegally deducting the forced fees, totaling nearly $600 annually per officer, from the paychecks of non-union police officers. Though the union hierarchy provided a so-called “compilation” of its expenditures, the document specifically stated that the listing was not an audit, despite requirements of PERB Regulation 32992.
Under Governor Gray Davis, California’s public sector unions have become notorious for their misuse of public employees’ forced dues for politics. Just last year, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California ordered the Professional Engineers in California Government union to return nearly $300,000 to California state employees who were illegally forced to pay for lobbying and other union political activities.
San Francisco, Calif. (April 8, 2003) — Rejecting arguments from union lawyers, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has affirmed the nearly unanimous vote of hundreds of Swissport Corporation employees to strip a major union of its power to force them to pay union dues as a job condition.
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 the International Association of Machinists (IAM) union District Lodge 190, Local 1414. Despite the overwhelming vote, however, IAM lawyers tried to overturn the election on the grounds that Swissport illegally intervened, but the NLRB rejected all of the union lawyers’ claims.
“These results show that even in Big Labor strongholds like San Francisco, workers overwhelmingly reject the notion of compulsory unionism,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation which provided free legal aid to the employees. “For workers in California, who do not enjoy the protection of a Right to Work Law, a deauthorization election is the only way they can break the grip of compulsory unionism.”
Led by Swissport worker Kirk Williams, the employees filed a petition to obtain an election under supervision of the NLRB. Williams decided to seek the deauthorization election after becoming frustrated that IAM union officials were indifferent to the needs of the rank-and-file.
In order to trigger the deauthorization election, Williams needed to obtain signatures from at least 30 percent his coworkers. Once that occurred, for the deauthorization to pass, Williams had to get an absolute majority of workers in the bargaining unit to vote “yes.” The 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.
“Union officials disdain the accountability that inherently flows from voluntary unionism,” stated Gleason. “Now, IAM officials will have no choice but to sell union membership on its merits, rather than using force.”
HARRISBURG, Penn. (April 4, 2003) — In a long-running civil rights suit brought by Pennsylvania teachers, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that local affiliates of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) union must have their books independently audited to justify how they spend teachers’ compulsory union fees.
The ruling came in a case brought by Marsha Otto and six other non-union Pennsylvania teachers who challenged how PSEA union officials were spending their compulsory dues. The teachers, who were represented by attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation, charged union officials were illegally using their forced dues to pay for non-collective bargaining activities while refusing to provide meaningful financial disclosure.
“PSEA union lawyers have fought tooth and nail for years in order to keep teachers in the dark about how their forced dues are spent,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “With this victory, Pennsylvania teachers will finally have an opportunity to hold the union accountable.”
The teachers brought suit because they wanted union officials to provide an independent audit detailing how their compulsory dues were being spent, so they could verify that their money was not illegally spent on union politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining. In an earlier settlement, union officials agreed to return amounts spent for certain types of non-collective bargaining activity, but they refused to agree to provide the independent audits required by U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
The actions of teacher unions’ officials violated the teachers’ rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments as articulated in the Foundation-won Supreme Court decisions Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson. Under Abood and Hudson, teachers that exercise their right not to join a union cannot be legally forced to pay for union activities unrelated to collective bargaining — such as politics, organizing, public relations, and lobbying — and must be provided several procedural protections.
“This settlement is a small step toward freeing teachers from being forced to support the PSEA’s political agenda,” said Gleason. “But the only way to fully protect teachers from this kind of abuse is to end compulsory unionism.”
Court Allows 2,800 California Engineers to Challenge Union Funding of Ballot Initiatives and Politics
Sacramento, Calif. (April 3, 2003) — By certifying a federal suit as a class action, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California this week has allowed more than 2,800 California state employees to challenge the money illegally confiscated for politics and other activities by the Davis Administration and Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG) union officials.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys filed the class-action suit, Hoirup v. PECG, in March 2002 on behalf of Donald Hoirup, who works for the California Department of Conservation California Geologic Survey in Sacramento.
Hoirup filed the complaint on behalf of all non-member government workers under the PECG’s statewide memorandum of understanding (MOU) – also known as a collective bargaining agreement – who have been illegally forced to pay for union political activities. The employees are asking the court to provide the abused workers with retroactive refunds, with interest, on all dues illegally collected since April 1, 2001.
“Union officials are trying to get away with using California state employees as their personal political ATMs,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Rather than actually represent these workers, union operatives simply want them to shut up and pay up.”
The PECG is one of California’s most politically active unions. Union bosses have seized compulsory dues from workers and used them to fund ballot initiatives and other political activities. According to the union’s own records, over three-fourths of PECG’s $8.1 million annual budget for the year 2000 was used for political activities.
On April 1, 1999, then newly elected Governor Gray Davis signed the MOU which forced all workers under the agreement to pay illegally high dues to PECG union officials.
According to the constitutional protections construed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-won decisions of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, the union may not collect compulsory dues spent on activities unrelated to collective bargaining. Politics, lobbying, organizing, public relations, and other non-bargaining activities are explicitly non-chargeable to employees who have exercised their right to refrain from union membership.
Hartford, Conn. (April 2, 2003) — With the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an employee of Colt Manufacturing filed federal charges today against his bargaining unit’s union for illegally forcing him to pay full union dues – including dues spent in pursuit of the union’s political agenda – or lose his job.
George Gally, a non-union member, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) union local lodge 376.
“In order to keep stuffing their political coffers with forced union dues, the union’s officials demand that workers shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
Gally originally objected to full union membership more than a decade ago, but under rules set by UAW union officials, has to again renew his objection every year in order to avoid full dues payment. Though Gally renewed his objection to being a full-dues-paying member in response to a union notice to do so, union officials disregarded his objection and have illegally demanded that he tender full dues in order to keep his job.
The actions of UAW union officials violate the workers’ rights established by the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck and subsequent rulings, workers have to right to refrain from full dues-paying union membership, pay a reduced fee to cover only the union’s collective bargaining costs, and refuse to pay for union ideological activities — such as politics.
“This sort of illegal power grab highlights the abuses that flow from compulsory unionism,” said Gleason. “Until workers like Gally enjoy the protections of a Right to Work law, union bosses in Connecticut will enjoy free reign over rank-and-file workers.”
Alleged $802,000 Theft is Merely the Most Recent Example of Financial Problems Involving Massachusetts Teacher Union
Springfield, Va. (March 28, 2003) – When contacted about the recent financial scandal involving the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), National Right to Work Foundation attorney Bruce Cameron issued the following statement regarding reports that former MTA Finance Director Richard Anzivino was accused of stealing $802,000 in compulsory union dues:
“I’m not surprised by this report of financial irregularities in this union. MTA union officials have fought us tooth and toenail all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep their affiliates from being forced to have their finances audited.
“Although we presented evidence of financial irregularities in MTA locals, MTA lawyers were unwilling to accept an audit requirement. Even governmental authorities joined us in arguing the need for audits, and reported on past financial irregularities in MTA locals. The MTA lawyers gave up on their opposition to required local audits only after they lost every appeal.
“For years we argued that the MTA union’s record-keeping was sloppy and inaccurate. In defense of its questioned record-keeping, the MTA lawyers called on the very accountant which it has now reportedly fired for theft, and an outside auditor who reportedly failed to catch the theft.
“Years ago, Massachusetts authorities held that the financial claims MTA officials made against my clients were unlawful. It is hardly shocking to me to read that a top MTA manager is alleged to have stolen money from the union when the union hierarchy for years has been attempting to shake down my clients for compulsory union dues based on questionable financial claims.”
Cameron spent years litigating against the MTA union and its affiliates on behalf of teachers who challenged the accuracy of the financial information the MTA union provided to teachers. Cameron was lead counsel in a case involving a 53-day trial challenging the accuracy of the financial record-keeping of the MTA.
Ohio Attorney General Likely to Part With President Bush by Allowing Discriminatory Union-Only Contracting
Columbus, Ohio (March 24, 2003) — Inside sources revealed that union lobbyists have likely convinced Attorney General Jim Petro to refuse to appeal a high-profile Ohio State Supreme Court decision that voided the state’s Open Contracting Act, a popular measure that bans mandatory union-only contracts or project labor agreements (PLAs) on taxpayer-funded construction projects.
The attorney general faces a deadline of Thursday, March 27, to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court in Ohio State Building & Construction Trades Council v. Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners. If Petro does not appeal the Ohio Supreme Court ruling, union officials will be able to force independent workers and contractors across Ohio to submit to compulsory unionism on all state-funded construction projects.
By failing to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, Attorney General Petro will also put himself directly at odds with policies laid down by President George W. Bush – the leader of Petro’s own political party – who signed an Executive Order prohibiting the use of discriminatory union-only PLAs on federally funded construction projects. The Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling explicitly parted with a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling upholding the widely supported Bush directive.
“Aside from betraying Ohio’s taxpayers and independent workers who have much at stake in this legal battle, the attorney general risks alienating key players who will have tremendous influence over whether he will win his party’s nomination for governor,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Meanwhile, there is no political gain in trying to appease union officials who will never support Petro in any meaningful way.”
Currently, Right to Work supporters and non-union employees and contractors across Ohio are mobilizing to counter the pressure union political operatives are putting on Petro. The attorney general’s office has already been contacted by thousands of constituents demanding he support a policy of open contracting in public works projects.
A project labor agreement is a scheme that requires all contractors, whether they are unionized or not, to subject themselves and their employees to unionization in order to work on government-funded construction projects. PLAs usually require contractors to grant union officials monopoly bargaining privileges over all workers; use exclusive union hiring halls; force workers to pay dues as a condition of employment; and pay above-market prices resulting from wasteful work rules and featherbedding.
After the Ohio legislature passed the Open Contacting Act in 1999, union lawyers sued the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners to retain forced unionism on state construction projects. In December 2002, the Ohio Supreme Court reversed an appellate court ruling upholding the Act. Attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation participated as an amicus curiae in support of the Open Contracting Act, arguing that the state legislature has the right not to finance a form of compulsory unionism with public construction funds.
Washington, D.C. (March 12, 2003) — Inside sources reveal that former Hoffa campaign chief and Teamsters union national field director, Todd Thompson, will be tasked with tripling contributions to the Teamsters political action committee (PAC) and that the funds will be spent to defeat “all GOP candidates” in the 2004 election cycle.
This development appears to represent a shift in strategy by the union’s political operatives who had been willing to support a few left-wing Republicans in the past.
In the 2002 election cycle the Teamster’s PAC, known as DRIVE, spent $2.3 million on behalf of federal candidates. 86 percent of the contributions went to Democrat party candidates – even though studies have consistently shown that 40 percent of union households vote for other candidates.
“This move further demonstrates that Teamsters union officials are totally out of touch with the interests of rank-and-file workers,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Despite all of James Hoffa’s rhetoric about reaching out to Republicans, the reality is that Teamsters officials are nothing more than Democrat party shills.”
This latest move by the union hierarchy also points up the failure of a strategy pursued by the White House political office to make core policy concessions in exchange for union political support. Despite these concessions, union officials have made ongoing attacks on Bush and other Republicans.
For example, over the 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.
“For anyone in the White House who believed they could get Big Labor bosses to play nice in the 2004 elections this is a loud wake up call,” said Gleason. “The Teamsters hierarchy and other union bosses are predictably focused on defeating George W. Bush and retaking both houses of Congress.”
El Paso, Texas (March 11, 2003) – With the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a worker for a federal contractor at Ft. Bliss today filed federal charges against officials of a local engineering union and his employer for illegally forcing him to pay full union dues as a job condition.
Cordev Inc. employee Richard Cabler, a non-union member, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) union Local 35 and Cordev. The union’s officials illegally threatened to get him fired for refusing to pay full dues, including dues spent for politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
“In an effort to stuff their coffers, union officials are demanding that employees simply shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation.
In December 2002, both IUOE union officials and Cordev notified all employees at the Fort Bliss facility that they would be fired if they failed to sign a dues check-off card forcing employees in the bargaining unit to pay full dues. However, the workers never received timely notice of their right to refrain from formal union membership and pay only a reduced fee.
These threats violate the workers’ rights established by the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck and subsequent NLRB rulings, union officials must specifically inform employees of their right to refrain from formal union membership and paying any costs other than those directly related to collective bargaining.
The Cordev controversy is somewhat unique in the Lone Star State, since Texas has a highly popular Right to Work law that bans compulsory unionism. However, because Cordev’s employees work on federal property under exclusive federal jurisdiction, the state’s Right to Work law does not protect them.
“The abusive actions of IUOE union officials show why most Texas workers are fortunate to have the protections of a Right to Work Law,” said Gleason.