Union Hit with Federal Charges for Unlawfully Ordering Company to Fire Worker Who Refused to Join the Union
Solon, Ohio (October 19, 2004) – A local worker filed federal charges against the Bakery and Confectionary Workers Union Local 19 today after he exercised his right not to subsidize union political activities and was unlawfully fired for refusal to join the union and sign a dues “check-off” card.
Steven Taday, an employee of Schwebel Baking Company, Inc., obtained free legal assistance from attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after union officials had the company fire him for refusing to sign a card authorizing automatic dues deductions from his wages.
The new charges complement similar unfair labor practice charges filed last month against Schwebel Baking for unlawfully firing Taday.
Taday alleges that, beginning in February 2004, union officials misrepresented his rights by telling him he had to maintain full union membership and sign a dues check-off authorization allowing the automatic deduction of union dues from his paycheck as a condition of employment. The NLRB will now investigate the charge and decide whether to issue a formal complaint in the case.
“Union officials want workers like Steven Taday to simply shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Rather than respect the rights of workers they represent, union officials are bullying workers to pay for political electioneering.”
Taday’s firing from Schwebel, which employs more than 300 people, violated his rights recognized 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 the right not to be forced to pay for costs unrelated to collective bargaining, such as union political activity.
“Unfortunately, as long as Ohio workers labor under a system of compulsory unionism, these sorts of abuses will continue to plague workers across the state,” said Gleason.
Washington, DC (October 6, 2004) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Regional Director has filed a formal complaint – ordered by the NLRB’s General Counsel – against a Daimler-Chrysler subsidiary for withholding pay raises as part of a strategy to coerce employees into ceding to unwanted unionization.
Meanwhile, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys helped Freightliner employees David Roach and Mike Ivey file a second unfair labor practice charge alleging the United Auto Workers (UAW) union and the company engaged in unlawful premature bargaining over numerous substantive terms and conditions of employment – despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of employees signed a petition opposing the UAW union’s organizing efforts.
The NLRB complaint targets the withholding of scheduled pay increases as a way of coercing employees to select UAW union officials as their workplace representative. Documents obtained by Foundation attorneys indicated that company officials posted notices announcing that previous increases were delayed because of the union organizing campaign.
Approximately 70 percent of the plant’s employees signed a petition stating that they reject union affiliation and prefer to negotiate directly with company officials over wages and benefits. However, the UAW union and Freightliner continued to enforce a “neutrality agreement” that included a series of prearranged terms and conditions of employment in exchange for active employer assistance during the union organizing drive.
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 decide their representation through a secret ballot election, and union operatives are allowed to sign up workers under a coercive “card check” authorization scheme.
“Freightliner and UAW officials cut a backroom deal to corral workers into union affiliation against their wishes by holding their wage increase hostage,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “While an overwhelming majority of workers simply don’t want the union around, Freightliner and the UAW union are refusing to get the message.”
The issuance of this complaint follows precedent-setting orders issued last month by the NLRB General Counsel that unfair labor practice complaints be issued in a series of employee cases challenging organized labor’s predominant “card check” organizing method. Foundation attorneys convinced NLRB General Counsel Arthur Rosenfeld also to issue complaints based on unfair labor practice charges filed by workers who found themselves targeted for organization by the unwanted UAW union at Dana Corporation’s plants in Bristol, Virginia, and St. Johns, Michigan.
The NLRB has scheduled a November 15 hearing before an Administrative Law Judge to prosecute the Freightliner complaint.
Fairfield, Calif. (October 6, 2004) — Two employees of Anheuser Busch have filed federal charges against a Teamsters union local for violating the terms of a recent settlement agreement and threatening to have workers fired for refusing to comply with union officials’ unlawful monetary demands.
Catherine Anderson and Noemi Palmas, part-time employees at Anheuser Busch’s Fairfield and Van Nuys facilities, respectively, filed the unfair labor practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys.
As a result of earlier federal charges filed by Anderson and Palmas in July 2003, NLRB prosecutors forced Teamsters Local 896 officials to settle the cases with a requirement that they properly inform workers of their right to refrain from financially supporting the union’s political and ideological causes. Teamsters officials had also agreed to cease illegal threats to have workers dismissed for refusal to pay excessive initiation fees and agreed to provide workers refraining from formal union membership “a precise and accurate statement” about the calculation of the forced dues.
Anderson and Palmas today allege that since signing the settlement agreement, Teamsters officials have
ordered some workers to pay a union “initiation” fee for a second time, continued to charge nonmembers nearly full dues, and failed to provide a legally mandated audit of union expenditures. Additionally, union officials require that workers wishing to refrain from formal union membership must renew their objections each year, and they demand that workers show up in person at the union hall to settle all past debts with the union. A refusal to comply with these unlawful demands would result in the employee’s termination.
“This Teamsters union hierarchy wants workers simply to shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The repeated attempts by union officials to run roughshod over workers’ rights show the inevitable greed and corruption that flow from forced unionism.”
The actions of Teamsters union officials violated worker protections recognized in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Communications Workers v. Beck, a case argued and won by Foundation attorneys. Under the Beck ruling, workers may not be compelled to pay dues beyond the union’s proven collective bargaining costs, and they are entitled to an independent audit of union expenditures before any forced dues or fees are seized.
Feds to Prosecute Multi-Billion-Dollar Venture Capital Firm for Forcing Acquired Companies to Unionize
Washington, D.C. (September 27, 2004) – National Right to Work Foundation attorneys have persuaded the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to order the federal labor prosecution of Heartland Industrial Partners LLP and the Steelworkers union for corralling unsuspecting employees of acquired corporations into unionization.
David Stockman, President Reagan’s former budget director, heads the firm that entered the arrangement with the Steelworkers union. Foundation attorneys argue that the agreement is an unlawful “secondary boycott,” as it imposes unionization on other companies which they purchase or with which they conduct certain business.
NLRB General Counsel Arthur Rosenfeld’s order addresses an increasingly common “top-down organizing” tactic that is used to short-circuit traditional grassroots-driven union organizing drives that have been increasingly unsuccessful due to a lack of interest 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 the unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB against the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) union and Heartland in August 2003.
As part of their pact with the USWA union, Heartland agreed to force any company in which it has substantial investments to accept a so-called “partnership agreement.” Under the terms of the “partnership 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.
Moreover, a newly acquired company must also impose the provisions of the “partnership agreement” on corporations it acquires or with which it does substantial business.
In return for this arrangement, Steelworkers union officials agreed to stifle employee rights under federal law and to limit employees’ ability to influence their own wages, benefits, and working conditions.
“Heartland and the USWA union are using their illegal sweetheart deal to force thousands and thousands of American workers into the clutches of compulsory unionism,” 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.
Rosenfeld’s order complements a lawsuit filed by Foundation attorneys, Patterson et al. v. Heartland Industrial Partners LLP et al., challenging the “neutrality agreement” between Heartland and the USWA union. The suit was filed in federal court on behalf of Wanda Patterson, an employee of Collins & Aikman, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. In January, the U.S. District Court cleared the path for full discovery into details of the agreement, and the case is still pending.
Santa Monica, Calif. (September 22, 2004) – National Right to Work Foundation attorneys have persuaded the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, D.C., to order the prosecution of a local hotel and union for actions taken to corral hotel staff into unionization against their will and without a secret ballot election.
The order came in response to six employees at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel filing federal charges late last year to challenge a so-called “card check” unionization drive that resulted in a flood of allegations of workers’ rights violations. NLRB General Counsel Arthur Rosenfeld ordered a trial regarding allegations that the Four Points Hotel illegally recognized Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) Union Local 11 as the monopoly bargaining representative of the Hotel’s staff despite a lack of majority support. Additionally, the Four Points Hotel faces prosecution for unlawfully assisting HERE union officials in foisting union affiliation on its employees.
Under “card check” or so-called “neutrality agreements,” employers are induced to waive their employees’ ability to vote in a secret ballot election and agree to provide other assistance to the union in pressuring employees to unionize. These pacts often include unlawful pre-arrangements over substantive terms and conditions of employment, such as health care, wages, or compulsory union dues.
Because many Four Points workers felt harassed into signing union authorization cards, and many revoked signed cards, the employees disputed the union’s claim that a majority of Sheraton workers actually support the union. They are asking the agency to bar HERE officials from bargaining on their behalf. The case will now be remanded to the NLRB Regional office for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
“Union officials knew they could not win a traditional, government-supervised secret ballot election of the employees,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “That’s why they resorted to the coercive ‘card check’ process to saddle workers with unwanted union representation.”
Rosenfeld’s order follows precedent setting orders earlier this month that unfair labor practice complaints be issued in a series of employee cases challenging organized labor’s predominant coercive “card check” organizing method. Foundation attorneys convinced Rosenfeld to issue complaints based on unfair labor practice charges filed by workers who found themselves targeted for organization by the unwanted United Auto Workers union at Freightliner’s Gaffney, South Carolina, facility as well as Dana Corporation’s plants in Bristol, Virginia, and St. Johns, Michigan.
National Worker Rights Advocate Files Arguments Against Discriminatory Union-Only Contracting in $300 Million Deal
Santa Ana, Calif. (September 13, 2004) — The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation today filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California attacking a “project labor agreement” (PLA) that would force workers on 28 public projects worth roughly $300 million into union ranks. Foundation attorneys filed their “friend of the court” brief in support of a group of nonunion apprentices seeking work on the projects.
Foundation attorneys argue that the agreement between the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council (CTC) union and the Rancho Santiago Community College District (District) that forces workers on all 28 projects into union collectives is preempted by federal labor law. Specifically, Foundation attorneys argue that the discriminatory union-only requirement imposed on contractors bidding on the projects violates provisions in the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) that limit the ability of union officials to impose union affiliation on workers against their will.
A PLA is a collective bargaining agreement that contractors must become a party to as a condition of performing work on a government-funded construction project. PLAs invariably require contractors to grant union officials monopoly bargaining privileges over their workers, use exclusive union hiring halls, and operate according to wasteful union work rules. A PLA’s function is to foist compulsory union representation onto the backs of employees of nonunion contractors who choose the freedom to work without union involvement.
“It is wrong for the state government to sponsor a scheme that bilks taxpayers out of millions of dollars and deprives employees of their basic right to choose whether or not to affiliate with a union,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “Work should be awarded on the basis of who is willing to do the best job at a reasonable price, not on who is most willing to sell workers out to compulsory unionism.”
Foundation attorneys assert that the discriminatory PLA between the CTC union and the District runs afoul of the NLRA as interpreted in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Building and Construction Trades Council v. ABC of Massachusetts/Rhode Island (“Boston Harbor”). Under Boston Harbor, a state or local government may not attempt to regulate a given industry through its projects. By denying work to nonunion contractors on $300 million worth of public projects, Foundation attorneys argue, the District is attempting to regulate the regional construction industry.
Judge James V. Selna will conduct a hearing on September 27, 2004, to decide whether to grant the District’s motion to dismiss the case against it by the group of apprentices.
Schwebel Baking Company Hit with Federal Charges for Unlawfully Firing Worker for Refusal to Join a Union
Solon, Ohio (September 13, 2004) – A Solon worker filed federal charges against an area bread baking company today after he was unlawfully fired for refusing to join a union and exercising his right not to subsidize union political activities.
Steven Taday, an employee of Schwebel Baking Company, Inc., obtained free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after being fired for refusing to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 700 and sign a card authorizing automatic dues deductions from his wages.
Taday alleges that, beginning in February 2004, company officials misrepresented his rights by telling him he had to maintain full union membership and sign a dues check-off authorization allowing the automatic deduction of union dues from his paycheck as a condition of employment. The NLRB will now investigate the charge and decide whether to issue a formal complaint in the case.
“Company officials apparently want workers like Steven Taday to simply shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Rather than respect the rights of workers they employ, company officials are bullying workers to pay for union political electioneering.”
The employee’s dismissal from Schwebel, which employs more than 300 people, violated his 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 the right not to be forced to pay for costs unrelated to collective bargaining such, as union political activity.
“Unfortunately, as long as Ohio workers labor under a system of compulsory unionism, these sorts of abuses will continue to plague workers across the state,” said Gleason.
Washington, D.C. (September 8, 2004) – National Right to Work Foundation attorneys have persuaded the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to issue the first-ever unfair labor practice complaints in a series of employee cases challenging organized labor’s predominant organizing method known as “card check.”
Under “card check” or so-called “neutrality agreements,” employers are induced to waive their employees’ ability to vote in a secret ballot election and agree to provide other assistance to the union in pressuring employees to unionize. These pacts – which are sometimes characterized as sweetheart deals – often include unlawful pre-arrangements over substantive terms and conditions of employment, such as health care, wages, or compulsory union dues.
Replacing the less-abusive secret ballot election process with “card check” has become the number one requirement for candidates to obtain Big Labor’s support in the 2004 elections. According to the AFL-CIO’s recent statement to BNA’s Daily Labor Report, “we don’t have any issue that’s a litmus test, but this is as close as it gets.”
NLRB General Counsel Arthur Rosenfeld found that deals the United Auto Workers (UAW) union cut with Freightliner (owned by Daimler Chrysler) and automotive supplier Dana Corporation amounted to unlawful premature bargaining under long-established law. The illegal agreements had been reached long before the UAW had provided any evidence that a majority of the companies’ employees wanted anything to do with the union.
Foundation attorneys brought the original unfair labor practice charges after being contacted by workers who found themselves targeted for organization by the unwanted UAW union at Freightliner’s Gaffney, South Carolina, facility as well as Dana Corporation’s plants in Bristol, Virginia, and St. Johns, Michigan.
The lead cases directly impact the enforceability of these “neutrality” or “card check” agreements, in which employers typically grant union operatives sweeping access to their workplaces and employees’ personal information, strip workers of the opportunity to a secret ballot representation election, and hold mandatory “captive audience” speeches about why employees should be unionized. Workers are subjected to “card check” drives in which union operatives bully workers face-to-face to sign union authorization cards that count as a “vote” in favor of unionization.
“Though long overdue, the General Counsel’s decision is an encouraging step towards protecting the rights of tens of thousands of workers across the country facing this ugly union organizing tactic,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “Workers ought to be able to decide whether to unionize in an atmosphere free of coercion.”
In the Freightliner case, Gaffney workers filed federal charges against Freightliner, Daimler-Chrysler, and the UAW union for unlawfully withholding scheduled pay raises as part of a strategy to coerce employees into ceding to unionization. Although an overwhelming majority of employees signed a petition opposing the UAW, Freightliner nevertheless bargained with the union. Meanwhile, in the cases brought by Dana employees, company and union officials negotiated over health benefits and other substantive terms of employment without first having a majority of workers’ support.
By Stefan Gleason
Special to Knight Ridder/Tribune
While working Americans take a long Labor Day weekend to relax and enjoy the fruits of the free enterprise system, union officials continue to work overtime to diminish workers’ freedom to choose whether to join a union.
Gearing up for the 2004 election, the AFL-CIO decided to shelve all operations other than politics and organizing.
Although Big Labor has increasingly stressed these two activities in recent years, why has it reached fever pitch” The answer: Big Labor is in a life-or-death struggle to preserve and expand its government-granted power to force American workers to join a union.
The latest tool is as simple as it is tyrannical: Union officials claim that secret ballot elections on unionization should be banned. In their place, union organizers are pushing an intimidating process in which workers must say “yes” or “no” in public, not the privacy of a voting booth.
Secret ballot elections are already less common, as union organizers have had increasing success in bullying companies into waiving the election process by using attacks in the press, trumped-up lawsuits and pressure from union-influenced regulators and politicians. Under the resulting “card check” agreements, union officials intimidate workers one by one into signing union authorization cards that are counted as “votes” in favor of unionization.
In just the past year, such “card check” schemes have spurred case after case brought by workers documenting everything from bribes to threats and stalking.
Late last year, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., introduced legislation to ban the traditional secret ballot election process. Only three years earlier, Miller and 15 other members of Congress formally implored the Mexican labor minister to establish a secret ballot election process in that country because, they said, elections “are essential to ensure that employees are not intimidated or coerced.”
Replacing the secret ballot election process with “card check” has also become the No. 1 requirement of candidates to obtain Big Labor’s support in the 2004 elections. According to a recent AFL-CIO statement to BNA’s Daily Labor Report, “we don’t have any issue that’s a litmus test, but this is as close as it gets.”
Union bosses once hailed the secret ballot election as the cornerstone of American labor law, but they now claim that secret ballot elections are “unfair” and must be outlawed to save “union democracy.”
The real reason is that fewer employees are interested in what unions are selling these days, and therefore unions win far fewer elections.
A large number of independent-minded employees, especially in the auto industry, are fighting back. Assisted by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, employees at a Dana plant in Ohio, a Metaldyne factory in Pennsylvania, and a Cequent Towing Products facility in Indiana have won a preliminary victory at the National Labor Relations Board.
In June, a narrowly divided board voted to reconsider prior precedent that bars employees from demanding expedited secret ballot elections to throw out an unwanted union imposed on them as a result of a “card check” drive.
Appearing at a news conference on Capitol Hill in support of related legislation introduced by Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., that would require secret ballot elections in all cases, Dana employee Clarice Atherholt explained: “We’re simply asking for a secret ballot vote so that we can have a say in our future without being intimidated or harassed.”
Unfortunately, Big Labor and its partisans don’t agree. Sens. John Kerry, John Edwards and Kennedy, along with 14 other senators and 31 members of Congress, recently joined together to file a “friend of the court” brief arguing against Atherholt and the other disenfranchised workers.
So as Americans listen to union officials and their allies drone on this Labor Day, let us not forget that Big Labor’s chief goal this election year is to take the freedom to choose out of the hands of rank-and-file workers.
Stefan Gleason is vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, 8001 Braddock Road, Springfield, Va. 22160; www.nrtw.org. This essay was distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
Springfield, VA (August 30, 2004) – Spokesmen from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (a non-profit, charitable organization that provides free legal aid to victims of compulsory unionism abuse) are available for comment and interviews on and around Labor Day regarding politics, workers’ rights, and other issues relating to organized labor.
Foundation spokesmen have been interviewed frequently on national television and radio programs, including The O’Reilly Factor, Buchanan and Press, Special Report with Brit Hume, and CNN, and their writings frequently appear in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, Investor’s Business Daily, and numerous other publications. They are prepared to comment on 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’ views;
- Big Labor’s war on the secret ballot election process for choosing whether to unionize, the AFL-CIO’s “litmus test” for candidates this election year;
- Union officials’ unprecedented plans for influencing the 2004 elections with forced union dues and other in-kind support;
- How “campaign finance reform” has allowed union officials to consolidate power under a new “privatized Democrat party” fueled by tens of millions of dollars diverted into secretive “527” political committees;
- The growing support for job-producing Right to Work laws which make union membership strictly voluntary;
- Examples of abuse resulting from forced union membership, union violence, violations of religious freedom, and other violations of employees’ individual rights;
- How teacher union officials have contributed to a decline in public education quality while hampering efforts at reform.
To schedule an interview or for information, call Justin Hakes at 703-770-3317.