Washington, DC (September 19, 2002) — A union-abused worker today filed class-action federal charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) for using a firm involved in fraudulent accounting practices to justify the union’s forced union dues demands nationwide. The charges followed multiple guilty pleas to federal criminal charges by a partner at Thomas Havey LLP, the nation’s top union accounting firm.
Meanwhile, Congressman Charlie Norwood (R-GA), chairman of the Workforce Protections subcommittee, publicly released a stern letter to Arthur Rosenfeld, NLRB General Counsel, arguing that the audits the Havey firm conducted for 700 unions nationwide cannot be relied upon, in light of “clear evidence that the Havey firm has engaged in fraudulent and criminal activity in auditing union books and records.”
Under current law, union officials must provide objecting employees with independently audited disclosure of how forced union dues are spent so the employees can determine if they are subsidizing activities unrelated to collective bargaining, including electioneering and other political activity.
“Workers should not be forced to pay dues to an unwanted union, especially when union officials use an accounting firm known for helping to cook the books to conceal how dues are spent,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, a national legal aid organization that is providing free legal aid to the employee who today filed his case.
In August, Thomas Havey partner Frank Massey pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges of “aiding a conspiracy to defraud the United States” by helping union officials hide on government disclosure forms how they spent over $1.5 million in union dues. Havey accountants listed union officers’ expenses for alcohol, expensive dining, and golfing trips as “Office and Administrative expenses” or “Education and Publicity.” These practices kept the top union officials from having to itemize the costs of these activities and thereby revealing how they spend workers’ mandatory union dues.
With the help of Foundation attorneys, Mark Simpson, an employee of Shenango Presbyterian Seniorcare, filed the unfair labor practice claim with the NLRB. Until IBT union officials give objecting employees like Simpson a credible independent audit, it is impossible for them to determine if they are unlawfully being charged for activities unrelated to collective bargaining, including union politics.
The Teamsters union is one of the most politically active unions in the country. Every year, union officials seize millions of dollars in compulsory dues to support candidates and causes which many workers find objectionable. Polls have consistently shown that a majority of rank-and-file union members objects to having their dues spent for political activities.
Pensacola, Fla. (September 5, 2002) – In response to perceived union arrogance, employees of Raytheon, LLC. filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for an election to prohibit the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union from forcing workers to pay union dues as a job condition.
Led by Robert Prime, an employee for the federal contractor at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, the unionized workers are upset that IAM officials have shut them out of the decision making process on important areas such as shift change rules, retirement benefits, and general contract negotiations.
A majority of the employees object to the security clause that mandates a worker can be fired for not paying union dues or fees. Over 65 percent of Prime’s coworkers signed the deauthorization petition, far beyond the 30 percent of signatures that triggers the NLRB supervised-election.
“Without the ability to withhold union dues, workers have virtually no power to hold IAM union officials accountable for their lies and broken promises,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, a charitable organization that is assisting the employees in vindicating their rights.
Although most Florida workers are protected by the state’s popular Right to Work Law, Raytheon employees work on federal property under exclusive federal jurisdiction, and they can thereby be forced to pay compulsory union dues as a condition of employment. As such, the only way under federal law for these employees to eliminate forced dues payment in their unionized workplace is through a deauthorization election.
If a majority of all employees in the bargaining unit vote in favor of deauthorization, union officials will be stripped of their special privilege to compel payment of compulsory dues. The requirement for an absolute majority, set by the National Labor Relations Act, is more difficult for employees to achieve than the standard for certifying a union, which requires only a majority of those voting.
Washington, DC (September 4, 2002) — In response to legal action brought by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) union is returning $672,000.00 in dues and interest to 330 non-union airline employees.
The settlement brings to a close a long-running case that reached the United States Supreme Court. In addition to returning the dues money, the ALPA officials are required to change the accounting procedures they use to determine how much non-union employees pay in agency fees. These changes may reduce the difficulties faced by airline employees in reclaiming forced dues used to pay for union politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
“This victory is a small first step in protecting employees in the airline industry from union shakedowns,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Unfortunately, federal labor law has given airline unions a virtual stranglehold over the industry, to the detriment of both employees and consumers.”
Although many of the airline workers represented by Foundation attorneys live in states with Right to Work laws, they are not protected from compulsory unionism. The airline industry is regulated by the Railway Labor Act (RLA), which imposes compulsory unionism despite state Right to Work laws.
The illegally confiscated dues are being returned pursuant to the settlement of two related suits brought by Foundation attorneys, Miller v. ALPA and Shackelford v. ALPA. Foundation attorneys won the Miller case at the U.S. Supreme Court with a 7-2 ruling that non-union workers cannot be forced into internal union kangaroo courts before taking their constitutional claims into federal court.
Among other things, the suit alleged that ALPA officials violated First Amendment protections as articulated in the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson. Under Hudson, union officials must provide independently audited disclosure of their books and justify expenditures before seizing any forced union dues from employees who have chosen to refrain from union membership.
Honolulu, Hawaii (September 3, 2002) — With the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an instructor at Maui Community College filed suit against the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) teacher union for illegally forcing her to pay full union dues, including dues spent for politics.
“In an effort to amass a political warchest, the union’s officials are demanding that teachers shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
Since August 2000, the UHPA and its national affiliate, the National Education Association (NEA), have demanded that all non-members pay an agency fee equal to the cost of full union dues. The union never provided the constitutionally required independent audit to prove that employees are not subsidizing non-collective bargaining activities or other procedural safeguards.
To vindicate professors’ civil rights, instructor Sandra Swanson contacted the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation for free legal aid.
Under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as articulated in the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, union officials must provide independently audited disclosure of their books and justify expenditures made from forced union dues seized from teachers who have chosen to refrain from union membership.
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 only collect compulsory dues that are proven to be spent on collective bargaining activity. 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.
The NEA is one of the most politically active unions in the country. Every year, union officials seize millions of dollars in compulsory dues to support candidates and causes that many of their members find objectionable. Polls have consistently shown that a majority of rank-and-file union members object to having their dues spent for political activities.
The following is a statement by Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, regarding the AFL-CIO’s poll released yesterday:
“Now that the AFL-CIO claims that 50 percent of Americans would choose to join a union, the AFL-CIO should next announce that it will abandon and repudiate its national strategy to impose unions on employees without even so much as a vote.
“In recent years, the AFL-CIO has engaged in a concerted strategy of bringing pressure to bear on employers through “corporate campaigns” which involve pressuring of suppliers, stockholders, and utilization of elected officials as well as OSHA, EPA, and the NLRB to bring employers to their knees until they agree to recognize a union without a vote of the employees.
“The fact is that when employees are given a free choice of whether to join a union, a vast majority have refused. And nearly 80 percent of the American people oppose the practice of requiring employees to join or support a union as a job condition — the official policy of the AFL-CIO.
“If the poll conducted by union-pollster Peter Hart is correct, then there is even further lack of justification for union officials to continue these tactics.”
San Diego, Calif. (August 29, 2002) — With the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, five employees of the city of San Diego filed a class-action suit against the San Diego Municipal Employees Association (MEA) union and the city government for overtly discriminating against non-union employees.
The five workers- Susan Brannian, Jayne Snowden, David Cornacchia, Leona Gulck, and Jennifer Shen -are suing the MEA union and the city of San Diego for withholding dental and vision insurance coverage from all non-union members, even though they pay for such benefits.
The MEA union’s scheme was designed to pressure employees into signing up as formal union members, thereby causing them to give up certain constitutional rights, including the ability to refrain from funding union political activities.
“The union’s practice of cutting deals with the city that intentionally hang some workers out to dry is deplorable,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “As long as union bosses are given a monopoly on representing employees in the workplace, they will continue to operate with little accountability.”
As part of their suit the workers are asking to be able to participate in dental and vision plans offered by the city to union members. The workers are also seeking to have the suit obtain class certification, which would provide relief to other San Diego city government employees who are not in the union.
“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Because of the policies imposed and the laws signed by Governor Gray Davis over the past four years, there has been a sharp rise in the number of workers across California being abused by union officials and government bureaucrats,” said Gleason.
Today’s guilty plea by top union auditor Frank Massey, partner at Thomas Havey, LLP, is merely a small step down the road toward rooting out union corruption. Havey is widely recognized nationwide as the unions’ audit firm of choice — every union audit and disclosure prepared by the audit firm is now suspect.
Union officials have long lived limousine, all-expense-paid lifestyles. Unfortunately, rank-and-file workers are forced by federal law to foot the bill with their mandatory union dues. But when union officials and their auditors falsify the minimal information that they must disclose, employees are left completely in the dark about how their hard-earned money is spent.
But the answer does not simply lie in stricter audit and disclosure requirements. The answer is to eliminate the numerous union special privileges granted by federal law in the first place. It is those privileges and legal immunities that make union officials feel infallible, and the resulting culture of arrogance leads to rampant corruption.
While there are many, the greatest of these privileges is the federally authorized power to collect compulsory union dues. Nearly 8 million Americans are forced to pay more than $5 billion in compulsory dues as a condition of employment.
“Compulsory unionism and corruption go hand in hand.” So said Senator John McClellan (D-AR), who chaired the Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field (generally referred to simply as the “McClellan Committee”) and held extensive hearings on union corruption in 1959. The upshot of these hearings was the passage of the Landrum-Griffin Act that among other things, requires unions to annually disclose certain financial information the information that Thomas Havey, LLP and Frank Massey have apparently helped unions avoid disclosing.
It’s time to end compulsory unionism. Only then will workers have the power to withdraw their support and hold the union hierarchy accountable.
Albuquerque, N.M. (August 19, 2002) –The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled public employers and unions may not conspire to violate the First Amendment rights of employees. Specifically, the court ruled that public employers have a duty to ensure that employees are not compelled to support union political activities with their mandatory union dues.
The ruling came in Wessel v. Albuquerque, a case brought by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys on behalf of city government employees against the city of Albuquerque and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Local 624, after the city deducted union dues used for activities unrelated to collective bargaining, including support of union politics, and without proper procedural protections.
Like most agreements around the country, the collective bargaining agreement included an indemnification clause whereby the union promises the city that it would pay all legal costs in defending a suit filed by employees whose constitutional rights were violated. These agreements remove the incentive for the employer to ensure the union is not mistreating workers.
“Union officials should not be allowed to bribe employers to do their dirty work by promising to reimburse all legal costs that arise out of violating employees’ First Amendment rights,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This ruling is a small step toward curtailing the power of union officials to shake down workers for political contributions.”
The case was originally filed in January 2000 by Rory Wessel of Albuquerque, and 13 other city employees, after the city of Albuquerque heeded the demands of union officials of AFSCME Local 624 to withhold compulsory union dues from employees’ paychecks without legislative authorization and without observing constitutional due process requirements.
The court ruled that indemnification agreements violate First Amendment protections as articulated in the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson. Under Hudson, union officials must provide independently audited disclosure of their books and justify expenditures before seizing any forced union dues from employees who have chosen to refrain from union membership.
Buffalo, N.Y. (August 15, 2002) — With the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an employee of the Lancaster Steel Service Company filed charges against steelworkers union officials for failing to notify him, and the entire workforce, of their right to refrain from formal union membership.
The charges also allege that union officials are illegally forcing these employees to pay full union dues, including dues spent for politics.
The employee, David Powers, has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) Local 222-1 and parent United Steel Workers International (USWI).
“This is a clear case of union bosses lying to 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.”
Union officials never notified Powers, and the other employees of their rights. As part of his complaint Powers wants the union to return all of the money that is being illegally seized and used for activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
“Because New Yorkers are not protected by a Right to Work law, union bosses will continue to have the power to shake down and coerce workers to support their pet political causes and other activities,” said Gleason.
USWA and USWI union officials’ actions violated the workers’ rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck, a case that Foundation attorneys argued and won, workers who are not protected by a Right to Work law may resign from formal union membership and halt and reclaim the portion of forced union dues spent on politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
Washington, DC (August 13, 2002) — A national employee rights advocate today filed federal charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Union Labor Life Insurance Company (ULLICO) for secretly contributing to labor unions through their top officials at the expense of rank-and-file union members and compulsory fee payers.
With assets totaling over $4 billion today, ULLICO was established in 1925 and today invests funds from unions, labor pension funds, and individual stockholders. ULLICO, whose directors are almost exclusively presidents and other officials of major unions, is already the target of a federal grand jury investigation in Washington, DC, which is investigating possible criminal activity.
The federal unfair labor practice charges filed today by Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, allege that ULLICO directors used their positions to allow themselves to sell their personal portfolios of ULLICO stock at a dramatically higher price than they were worth, but would not allow larger shareholders – such as individual union pension funds set up for the benefit of union members and compulsory fee payers– to sell their stock during the same period. These transactions were kept secret for nearly two years until they came to light in April.
“The self-dealing of ULLICO officials reveals the corruption that results from the numerous special privileges conferred upon union officials by federal law,” said Gleason. “While union officials have been talking about corporate corruption, at firms like Enron they have been similarly exploiting rank-and-file workers.”
During the late 1990’s, ULLICO bought significant holdings in Global Crossing which skyrocketed in value. In late 1999, before ULLICO’s stock price was to be increased, ULLICO President Robert Georgine sent a confidential letter to ULLICO board members – virtually all of whom are union presidents – encouraging them to purchase up to 4,000 shares of stock at $53.94. Georgine knew the stock’s value would increase significantly at the next revaluation. Then, in May 2000, ULLICO’s board raised the price of company stock to $146 per share, knowing that the new price was well above its true value since Global Crossing’s stock value had been plummeting dramatically throughout 2000.
In November 2000, ULLICO’s board authorized a stock repurchase at the inflated price of $146 a share, which permitted directors to sell back their personal holdings. But they permitted larger stockholders only to sell back a small portion of their ULLICO stock. By allowing themselves to liquidate their personal holdings at an inflated price, ULLICO’s board of directors made significant profits to the direct detriment of others who had invested in ULLICO. In Spring 2001, the value of ULLICO stock was revalued at $74 a share, and only then were union pensions, which are set up for employees, free to sell their ULLICO stock.
Public reports indicate that among those who personally profited from these secret transactions were Douglas McCarron, President of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Martin Maddaloni, President of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, and Morton Bahr, President of the Communications Workers of America.