29 Sep 2003

Millville Union Hit with Federal Charges for Illegal Seizure of Forced Union Dues for Politics

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Millville, NJ (September 29, 2003) — Enjoying free legal aid from attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an employee of Friedrich & Dimmock glass tubing company filed federal charges against local union officials for denying his right to cut off payment of forced dues used for union politics.

Orville Ziennker, along with nine other non-union workers at Friedrich & Dimmock’s Millville plant, filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics, & Allied Workers International (GMP) Union Local 219. The NLRB is responsible for investigating the charges and will decide whether to prosecute the union for unfair labor practices.

“GMP union officials’ actions show they only care about stuffing their coffers with union dues rather than respecting the wishes of rank-and-file employees they claim to represent,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.

In July, a letter from the union to the workers failed to adequately detail both the Local and International union’s expenditures of their forced dues, including a breakdown of chargeable and non-chargeable union expenditures. Ziennker and his fellow workers are also challenging the union’s forced-dues objection procedure, which requires workers to file annual objections to paying for union ideological activities, and illegally strips them of their right to file charges with the NLRB challenging the amount of forced dues without first filing a challenge with the American Arbitration Association.

The actions of GMP union officials violate the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision. Under Beck, workers are allowed to resign from formal union membership, and halt and reclaim the portion of forced union dues spent on activities unrelated to collective bargaining, such as union politics, organizing, and public relations. Union officials must also provide workers a list of activities they claim they can compel non-members to subsidize.

“No one should be forced to pay compulsory dues to a union, especially when its officials continually abuse that federally granted special privilege,” stated Gleason. “Until New Jersey workers enjoy the protections of a Right to Work law, workers will continue suffering this type of abuse at the hands of self-serving union officials.”

17 Sep 2003

Legal Foundation to Assist Cintas Employees Harassed by UNITE Union Organizers

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SPRINGFIELD, Va. (September 17, 2003) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced that it will offer free legal aid to Cintas employees whose rights are violated by union organizers from the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE).

Currently UNITE organizers are involved in a top-down organizing drive, also known as a “corporate campaign,” intended to bully Cintas to force its employees to accept compulsory unionism. In spite of a growing number of voluntary petitions signed by workers in cities ranging from New York City, to Chicago, to San Francisco asking UNITE to leave them alone, union organizers have stepped up their efforts to pressure Cintas and its employees.

If UNITE organizers are successful in their “corporate campaign,” Cintas employees could be denied the opportunity to vote on union representation through a secret ballot election. Instead UNITE organizers could use the highly coercive card-check process. These card-check drives often involve the use of intimidating “home visits,” joint union/employer captive audience speeches, video taping of workers entering and leaving work, and other pressure tactics.

In fact, in a recent National Labor Relations Board ruling, UNITE was stripped of its illegally obtained bargaining power for using coercive tactics in an organizing drive in New York. Desperate for a new source of forced union dues, UNITE President Bruce Raynor said regarding Cintas, “it’s the right thing to do… to break the back of this employer.”

Regarding Cintas, Raynor went on to say, “I don’t know how long it will take to bring Cintas down… but mark my words: We will.”

Workers who have been threatened by UNITE organizers or feel their rights have been violated and wish to request legal assistance may send an e-mail message to [email protected] or call the Foundation toll-free at 800-336-3600.

4 Sep 2003

Alpena Union Hit with Federal Charges for Illegal Seizure of Forced Union Dues

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Alpena, Mich. (September 4, 2003) — Obtaining free legal aid from attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a Besser Company employee filed federal charges against local officials of the Boilermakers union for illegally forcing him to pay full union dues, including dues spent for politics.

James Martin, an employee at Besser Company’s Alpena plant, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB) Union Local D-472. The NLRB is responsible for investigating the charges and will decide whether to prosecute the union for unfair labor practices.

“These union officials’ actions show they care more about stuffing their coffers than respecting the wishes of rank-and-file employees they claim to represent,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.

Within the past six months, Martin notified IBB union officials of his resignation from the union and intention to pay only those costs directly related to collective bargaining. Union officials have illegally continued seizing full union dues from Martin, despite never having provided a legally mandated audit to prove his dues were not funding unrelated activities.

The actions of IBB union officials violate the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision. Under Beck, workers are allowed to resign from formal union membership and halt and reclaim the portion of forced union dues spent on activities unrelated to collective bargaining, such as union politics, lobbying, and public relations. In addition, objecting workers are entitled to an independent audit to verify they are not subsidizing such activities.

“No one should be forced to pay compulsory dues to a union, especially when its officials continually abuse that federally granted special privilege,” stated Gleason. “Until Michigan workers enjoy the protections of a Right to Work law, workers will continue suffering this type of abuse at the hands of self-serving union officials.”

4 Sep 2003

Federal Government to Prosecute Teamsters Union Local For Violating the Rights of Diehl Employees

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DEFIANCE, Ohio (September 4, 2003) — In response to charges brought by employees at Diehl, Inc.’s evaporated milk plant, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board issued a formal complaint against Teamsters Local 908 for unfair labor practices. An administrative law judge will hold a hearing on the complaint on January 12, 2004.

With the assistance of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, Donald Manis filed federal charges in August and September 2001 against union officials for preventing him and his coworkers from exercising their right to reclaim forced union dues spent for politics and other non-bargaining activities.

“Teamsters union bosses go to great lengths to force workers to pay for their ideological agenda,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.

An agreement between Teamsters officials and Diehl forces all employees to pay union dues to keep their jobs. Under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court CWA v. Beck decision, employees cannot be forced to pay union dues for activities unrelated to collective bargaining, like politics and organizing.

Union officials demanded the dues despite the fact that they had not provided, as required by the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson decision, the employees with an independent audit breaking down union expenditures. Local 908 officials also unlawfully required employees to send multiple objection letters before being allowed their right to review the union’s finances, and they forced employees to pay for part of the cost of arbitration regarding the amount of the reduced dues objectors pay.

Foundation attorneys are demanding that union officials return any illegally seized forced union dues, provide proper financial disclosure, and halt their practice of forcing objecting employees to go through an excessive bureaucratic process before being able to exercise their rights.

29 Aug 2003

National Right to Work To Triple Pro Bono Assistance to Workers Facing Abusive Union Organizing Tactics

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CINCINNATI, Oh. (September 1, 2003) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix will today attend the AFL-CIO’s national Labor Day rally (cohosted by the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees [UNITE], and the Teamsters in Cincinnati, Ohio) for the purpose of briefing the media regarding the systematic abuse of employees under the emerging organizing method known as top-down organizing.

As an organization with an annual budget of over $6 million and with the sole mission to provide free legal aid to employees whose human and civil rights are violated by compulsory unionism abuse, the Foundation is announcing that it will triple the resources spent on defending employees against these emerging methods that involve a strategy of joint employer/union coercion of employees in the decision of whether to unionize. The following is Mr. Mix’s statement:

“Responding to an overwhelming number of pleas for help from rank-and-file employees facing these abusive union organizing tactics, the Foundation will immediately triple funding for its Top-Down Organizing Task Force, providing even greater legal assistance to employees who find themselves the targets of top-down organizing tactics such as ‘neutrality agreements.’

“UNITE is a leading union in the practice of denying employees an opportunity to vote on union representation through the less-abusive secret ballot election process – instead resorting to a highly coercive card-check process. These card-check drives often involve the use of intimidating ‘home visits,’ joint union/employer captive audience speeches, video taping of workers entering and leaving work, and other pressure tactics. In one very recent case, UNITE officials were involved in an allegedly fraudulent card count.

“Two weeks ago, employees at a major Warnaco, Inc. facility in Pennsylvania filed federal charges after more than 60 percent signed statements that they did not sign a union card, and others have declared that they felt coerced to sign a card, yet UNITE officials were granted exclusive representation status anyway.

“With a greater commitment of resources dedicated to defending against these heavy-handed organizing tactics, we are confident Foundation attorneys can reverse this troubling trend. Currently, Foundation attorneys are assisting numerous groups of employees who are subject to “neutrality agreements” and other top-down organizing techniques, in states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan, and Kentucky. (Foundation attorneys have also recently filed cases against the UAW and Steelworkers unions as well as companies such as Johnson Controls, Inc. addressing abuses flowing from such arrangements.)

“Despite their rhetoric, many union organizers are less interested in building voluntary support among rank-and-file workers than in the old days. Facing hemorrhaging membership, they are most concerned with maintaining a steady flow of compulsory union dues. This is why they are using ‘corporate campaign’ tactics to force more companies, like Cintas, to sign “neutrality agreements.” Since Cintas employees at more than 40 facilities in the past year have tossed the union out from the bottom up, UNITE officials are desperately attempting to organize Cintas from the top down.”

29 Aug 2003

AFL-CIO Announces it Will Not Debate – or Even Appear on the Same Television Show – as National Right to Work

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SPRINGFIELD, Va. (August 29, 2003) – In a stunning move, the AFL-CIO has flatly rejected CNN’s request that they appear for a Labor Day weekend television discussion about the union movement with a spokesman from the National Right to Work Foundation, an organization that is providing free legal assistance to thousands of victims of union coercion and abuse.

Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason was booked to appear on the national cable network to debate representatives from the AFL-CIO on the relevance of today’s union movement and issues such as whether union officials truly represent the interests of rank-and-file workers. Rather than debate, union operatives ultimately pressured the network to cancel the National Right to Work Foundation in favor of an opponent from the business community which would allow the AFL-CIO to frame the issue as “business vs. workers.”

An AFL-CIO operative stated that they, “…absolutely will not even appear on any single solitary program even like (sic) within the same hour as somebody from the National Right to Work.”

“This begs the question, what is the AFL-CIO afraid of?” asked Gleason. “The fact that they refuse to appear is the real story.”

Attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation are representing victims of abuse from AFL-CIO affiliated unions in more than 200 legal-aid cases nationwide. Foundation spokesmen welcome the opportunity to discuss — or debate — any issues related to the following topics:

  • How Big Labor’s political agenda is out of step with many rank-and-file workers;
  • Big Labor’s new push to advance forced unionism using top down organizing tactics – rather than traditional grassroots organizing efforts.
  • Examples of abuse resulting from forced union membership, union violence, violations of religious freedom, and other violations of employee individual rights.
  • The growing support for job-producing Right to Work laws which make union membership strictly voluntary.

To schedule an interview call Daniel Cronin at 703-770-3317.

15 Aug 2003

Dana Corp. and UAW Hit With Federal Charges For Surprise Deal to Impose Union on Employees

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Elizabethtown, Ky. (August 15, 2003) – With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an Elizabethtown-area worker today filed federal charges challenging an agreement signed in recent days between Dana Corporation and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, on the grounds that it violates employees’ right to refrain from union representation.

Pam Lippe, an employee of Dana Corporation, obtained free legal aid from Foundation attorneys to file unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The charges seek an NLRB injunction against the UAW and Dana Corporation, blocking implementation of the agreement which has already included pro-union “captive audience” speeches given by Dana executives, prohibition of employee-generated signs opposing the union, and refusal to allow employees to void previously signed union authorization cards.

Bowing to pressure from UAW organizers, and the threat of lost job opportunities with the “Big Three” automakers, Dana Corporation suddenly signed a so-called “neutrality agreement” with the union. At the same time, union organizers will likely cancel an NLRB-supervised secret-ballot election scheduled for early September, fearing that a majority of Dana workers intended to vote against union representation. Previous efforts by the UAW to organize the facility have failed – with over 60 percent of workers voting against unionization in an election held in 2002.

“This is a perfect example of union organizers doing whatever they can to stuff their coffers at the expense of workers,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Agreements like this are an example of the greed and corruption that flow from compulsory unionism.”

In recent days, Dana officals organized “captive audience” speeches where employees were told that, if they did not support unionization, they could risk job losses and potential plant closings. As part of its pact, with the UAW, Dana suddenly refused to allow employees to post signs voicing opposition to union affiliation.

In addition, the secret ballot election scheduled for September 10, 2003 will likely be cancelled, as union operatives sign up workers under a “card check” authorization scheme. Under the “card check” unionization process, workers are often misled, harassed, or threatened into signing authorization cards.

This week Dana management and the UAW notified employees they had established an arbitrary three-day “window period” during which workers could rescind previously signed authorization cards, but only by directly contacting certain UAW organizers – who have refused even to answer the phone number provided to the employees. When workers want to rescind their card they are unable to find the designated organizer.

On Monday, August 25, 2003, the UAW and Dana will apparently hold a “card count” to determine if the union is the new exclusive bargaining representative of the workers, even though it will include illegitimate cards from workers who were not able to rescind their union authorization. Many workers have signed petitions stating that they wanted their union authorization cards revoked, but in further violation of the workers’ right to reject union affiliation, Dana and UAW officials have said they would ignore the workers’ petition.

11 Aug 2003

Union Officials Hold Wage Increase Hostage to Force Workers to Accept Unwanted Union Affiliation

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Gaffney, S.C. (August 11, 2003) – With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, two Gaffney-area workers today filed federal charges against Freightliner, Daimler-Chrysler, and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union for withholding pay raises as part of a strategy to coerce employees into ceding to unionization.

Although an overwhelming majority of employees have signed a petition opposing the UAW union’s organizing efforts, Freightliner is bargaining with the union over the employees’ wages and terms of employment.

In response, Freightliner employees David Roach and Mike Ivey obtained free legal aid from Foundation attorneys to file unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The charges seek an NLRB injunction against the UAW and Freightliner.

Roach and Ivey decided to file charges after UAW officials vetoed a long-scheduled and promised pay increase and effectively required a freeze on pay raises until the employees agree to unionization. Implementing a so-called “neutrality agreement” that requires the company to actively assist the UAW in its organizing efforts, Freightliner has, in effect, made the UAW its “company union,” even though the union enjoys negligible support from rank-and-file workers.

Approximately 70 percent of the plant’s employees have already signed a petition stating that they reject union affiliation and prefer to negotiate directly with company officials over wages and benefits. The petition states in part that the undersigned employees “recognize the destructive and self-serving behavior of the UAW, and its documented role in union violence, union corruption, and plant closures caused by featherbedding and other uneconomic union work rules.”

“UAW operatives are holding the wage increase hostage to force workers into union ranks,” stated Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The employees simply don’t want the union around – but Freightliner and the UAW are refusing to get the message.”

Under most “neutrality agreements,” union organizers are given full access to non-union employees’ personal information and company facilities. Also, workers are usually denied the ability to reject unionization through a secret ballot election, and union operatives are allowed to sign up workers under a “card check” authorization scheme. If UAW officials sign up a majority of the workers, Freightliner would likely agree to recognize the union as the exclusive representative of all workers, even those who did not sign a card. Under the “card check” unionization process, workers are often misled, harassed, or threatened into signing authorization cards.

In recent years, as union organizers have had less success in persuading employees to vote for unionization during secret ballot elections, unions have focused on organizing employers. Bolstered by a series of Clinton NLRB rulings, union operatives increasingly use “neutrality agreements” and other “top-down” organizing techniques to force employers to recognize unions without a vote by the workers.

6 Aug 2003

Unions Hit with Federal Charges for Illegally Seizing Forced Dues from Ft. Benning Workers

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Fort Benning, Ga. (August 6, 2003) — With the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, five workers at Fort Benning today filed federal charges against local union officials for illegally forcing them to pay full union dues as a job condition.

Led by Tom Jarvis, an employee of federal contractor Shaw Infrastructure, the workers filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Federal Employees Metal Trades Council, six local union affiliates, and the Laborers International Union of North America. The unions’ officials illegally threatened to get Jarvis and his co-workers fired for refusing to pay full union 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. “Their abusive actions show why the vast majority of Georgia workers are fortunate to work under the protection of a Right to Work Law.”

Citing a so-called “union security clause” in a new contract between Shaw Infrastructure and the conglomerate of unions, union officials notified employees at the Fort Benning facility that they would be fired if they failed to sign dues check-off cards requiring them to pay full dues while forfeiting their right to resign from formal union membership. However, the workers never received timely notice of their right to refrain from full membership and pay only reduced fees that do not include the unions’ political and ideological activities.

The union officials’ threats violate worker protections recognized under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck and subsequent rulings, union officials must specifically inform employees of their right to refrain from formal union membership and from paying costs other than those directly related to collective bargaining.

The Fort Benning controversy is somewhat unique in Georgia, because the state has a highly popular Right to Work law that bans compulsory unionism. However, because Fort Benning’s employees work on federal property under exclusive federal jurisdiction, the state’s Right to Work law does not protect them. Under these circumstances, the only way to prohibit compulsory union dues is to obtain and win an NLRB-supervised “deauthorization election,” a difficult process that the employees have already begun.

“Because union officials are hostile to the concept of voluntary unionism, they constantly seek ways to maneuver around important Right to Work laws,” stated Gleason.

5 Aug 2003

Autoworkers Challenge National Agreement Mandating Acquired Companies to Help Unionize their Own Employees

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Cleveland, Ohio (August 5, 2003) – In a potentially precedent-setting legal challenge, employees of Collins & Aikman today filed federal charges against a “secondary boycott” arrangement that forces companies acquired by Heartland Industrial Partners LLP to help the Steelworkers unionize their unsuspecting employees and then impose the same requirement on other companies with which they do certain business.

The charges attack an increasingly common “top-down organizing” tactic that is used to short-circuit traditional grassroots-driven union organizing drives that more frequently fail, due to a lack of interest in unionization among rank-and-file employees.

With the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Linda Kandel, Galen Raber, Juanita Miller, and Renate Croll filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the United Steelworkers of America, Heartland Industrial Partners LLP, and Collins & Aikman Corporation.

As part of their pact with the Steelworkers union, Heartland agreed to force any company in which it has substantial investments to accept a so-called “neutrality agreement.” Under the terms of the “neutrality agreement,” the company must deny employees an opportunity to vote in a traditional secret ballot election, give union organizers employees’ private information including home addresses, and, ultimately, force workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

The newly acquired company must then impose the “neutrality agreement” on corporations it acquires or with which it does substantial business.

In return for this arrangement, union officials pour workers’ trust funds into Heartland, promise to stifle employee rights under federal law, and limit employees’ ability to influence their own wages, benefits, and working conditions.

“Heartland and the Steelworkers union are using their sweetheart deal to spread compulsory unionism like a virus and infect as many workers as possible,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.

This quid pro quo arrangement may also violate civil and criminal provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act. Today’s NLRB charges follow up a lawsuit filed last week by Foundation attorneys, Patterson et al. v. Heartland Industrial Partners LLP et al., challenging the “neutrality agreement” between Heartland and the Steelworkers union. The suit was filed on behalf of Wanda Patterson, an employee of Collins & Aikman, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

In 2001, Heartland bought out the Collins & Aikman Corporation and forced the company to accept a “neutrality agreement” with the Steelworkers union. Employees at the Holmesville, Ohio, Collins & Aikman facility had previously voted on several occasions to reject union representation before unionization was imposed in recent months under the so-called “neutrality agreement.”