10 Nov 2021

National Right to Work Foundation Issues Special Legal Notice for Kaiser Permanente Employees Impacted by Union Boss Ordered Strike

Posted in News Releases

Hospital workers have right to rebuff union officials’ demands to abandon patients amidst pandemic

(November 9, 2021) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys issued a special legal notice to the approximately 32,000 Kaiser Permanente employees affected by a strike ordered by officials of the United Nurses Associations of California / Union of Health Care Professionals /AFSCME, the United Steelworkers, and the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals, all members of the Alliance of Health Care Unions (AHCU). The strike is scheduled to begin on November 15.

The Foundation’s legal notice informs rank-and-file nurses and other hospital staff of the rights union bosses won’t tell them about, including their right to refuse to abandon their patients and keep working to support their families despite the union-ordered strike. The notice discusses why workers across the country frequently turn to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal aid in such situations.

“This situation raises serious concerns for employees who believe there is much to lose from a union-boss ordered strike,” the notice reads. “Employees have the right under federal labor law to rebuff union officials’ strike demands, but it is important for you to get informed before you do so.”

The full notice is available at https://www.nrtw.org/kaiser-permanente-legal-notice/.

The notice outlines the process that Kaiser Permanente employees should follow if they want to exercise their right to return to work during the strike and avoid punishing fines and discipline by union bosses, complete with sample union membership resignation letters.

Further, the notice reminds workers of their right to cut off all union dues payments in the absence of a monopoly bargaining contract with the hospital. The notice encourages employees to seek free legal aid from the Foundation if they experience union resistance as they attempt to exercise any of these rights.

The Foundation has defended hospital employees against union boss abuses in a number of recent cases. It provided free legal aid to Jeanette Geary, who filed charges against United Nurses and Allied Professionals bosses in Rhode Island when they ignored her right not to fund union lobbying. After over a decade of litigation, Geary prevailed and in doing so set a precedent that protects the rights of nurses and other employees nationwide not to be required to fund union political activities.

“Kaiser Permanente workers unequivocally have the right to reject union boss strike orders and continue to serve those in need,” commented National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix.  “Those who question whether the union-ordered strike is really best for themselves, their families, and their patients cannot be forced by union officials to stop working.”

“Kaiser Permanente employees whose rights are violated by union bosses should immediately contact the Foundation for free legal aid,” added Mix.

3 Nov 2021

Atlanta-area Ecolab Employees File Petition Requesting Vote to Kick Out RWDSU Union Bosses

Posted in News Releases

Officials of RWDSU are currently trying to overturn decisive April vote by Alabama Amazon workers to keep them out of Bessemer facility

Atlanta, GA (November 3, 2021) – An employee of water treatment company Ecolab’s Atlanta-area facility has just filed a petition for dozens of workers with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), requesting a vote to remove the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union, Southeast Council (RWDSU) from their workplace. The employee, Irvin Arnold, submitted a “decertification petition” signed by enough of his coworkers to prompt the NLRB to administer such a vote. Arnold received free legal assistance in doing so from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.

The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal private-sector labor law and for adjudicating disputes between employers, unions, and individual workers. Arnold and his coworkers are trying to boot officials of the RWDSU from power at the Ecolab plant. The RWDSU is notably the same union that Bessemer, AL, Amazon employees rejected by a more than 2-to-1 margin during a highly publicized April 2021 union election.

According to Arnold’s petition, the requested election will be held among the 50 Ecolab employees currently under RWDSU officials’ monopoly control, including “reliability technicians…maintenance leads, production associates, mixers, bulk bay spotter/loaders, logistics associates, production team coaches, warehouse lead workers and label control associates.”

The most recent contract between Ecolab management and RWDSU bosses expired on June 30, 2021. Because no contract currently exists between Ecolab and RWDSU, Ecolab employees may have a significantly easier time attempting to vote out the unpopular union, as union officials often manipulate non-statutory “bars” in federal labor law to prevent employee attempts to dethrone them. One such restriction, the so-called “contract bar,” immunizes union officials from employee decertification votes for up to three years after company management and union bosses ink a contract.

Arnold and his coworkers’ decertification push comes as several groups of employees across the country have prevailed in similar efforts with free Foundation legal aid. Workers at Airgas in Ventura, CA, Rush University in Chicago, IL, Desert Springs Hospital Center in Las Vegas, NV, and Bertolino Foods in Boston, MA, have all successfully voted out or forced out by other legal means unpopular union officials, just in the past few months.

Ecolab employees’ endeavor also comes as RWDSU officials continue their efforts to install themselves at the Bessemer Amazon plant, despite the overwhelming employee vote against them. A final NLRB decision has yet to issue on whether allegations RWDSU made against Amazon officials about the election process should nix the workers’ vote and prompt a do-over election.

“RWDSU union officials have shown they have a penchant for challenging the will of the very employees they claim to ‘represent.’ That poses concerns for Atlanta Ecolab employees who just seek an up-or-down vote to remove RWDSU bosses from their workplace,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Foundation staff attorneys will fight to ensure that Mr. Arnold and his coworkers can exercise this right free from any coercion by RWDSU union officials.”

31 Oct 2021
25 Oct 2021

Workers Nationwide Urge Supreme Court to Take Cases Defending First Amendment Right to Refuse Union Support

Posted in News Releases

Petitions from public servants challenge union boss-created “escape periods” that limit right to cut off dues deductions to just a few days each year

Washington, DC (October 25, 2021) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys today filed petitions asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear several cases from rank-and-file government employees across the country. The cases challenge union-created schemes that violate public workers’ First Amendment rights by stopping them from cutting off financial support to unions of which they disapprove.

A joint petition, which covers four cases brought by California and Oregon public servants, and another petition combining two cases brought by Alaska government employees, now join two already-pending Foundation-backed petitions in cases that attack similar arrangements in other states.

The petition for the four Oregon and California cases was filed by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys in partnership with attorneys from the Freedom Foundation. The Freedom Foundation jointly represents workers in three of the four cases along with Foundation staff attorneys. The Alaska state employees’ petition was filed jointly by Foundation staff attorneys who represent Vocational Instructor Christopher Woods in his case against the Alaska State Employee Association (ASEA) union, and attorneys for the Liberty Justice Center and Alaska Policy Forum, who represent two Alaska workers in a separate case also against the ASEA.

The other pending National Right to Work Foundation cases are those of Chicago Public Schools educators Joanne Troesch and Ifeoma Nkemdi, and Monmouth County, New Jersey, educators Susan Fischer and Catherine Speck. Both the Chicago and New Jersey cases are slated to be considered during the High Court’s Friday, October 29 conference, with a decision on whether the cases will be taken up likely soon after.

The newly filed petitions seek to defend the First Amendment Janus rights of public servants following Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decisions which allow union officials to continue limiting those rights. In the 2018 Foundation-argued Janus v. AFSCME case, the High Court recognized that the First Amendment protects public sector workers from being forced to pay union dues or fees. The Justices further ruled that a public worker’s affirmative waiver of that right is needed before any union payments are deducted from his or her paycheck.

The Supreme Court reasoned that, because all public sector union activities involve redressing government, forcing any public worker into funding union activities against his or her will counts as forced political speech forbidden by the First Amendment.

Each of the cases brought before the court now challenges a union boss-created “escape period” scheme. “Escape periods” limit to just a few days every year the time in which public servants can exercise their Janus right to end union dues deductions. Often, public workers whom union officials never informed about Janus rights in the first place try to cut off support to an unwanted union, only to be told by state officials that, per the “escape period,” they must endure another year or more of union dues being siphoned from their paychecks.

The majority of these cases are class action lawsuits, and thus seek to reclaim for both petitioners and their coworkers money union bosses seized from their paychecks after they resigned union membership and tried to exercise Janus rights.

The elimination of unconstitutional “escape periods” already has the backing of 16 state attorneys general across the country. Led by Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor, attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia filed an amicus brief in July backing the Chicago educators’ case. Separately Taylor is defending an Alaska Executive Order, currently enjoined in state court, that seeks to proactively defend government workers’ Janus rights by requiring annual confirmation of each employee’s consent to make union dues payments prior to the deduction of union dues from their paychecks.

“Many of these public servants disagree with the ever-increasing left-wing union positions, such as defunding the police or teaching critical race theory in elementary schools, or did not realize they had the option never to join in the first place,” commented Freedom Foundation Chief Litigation Counsel Eric Stahlfeld. “It is unconscionable for the unions to continue taking money to promote their objectionable speech and political objectives.”

“All over the country, American public workers are making it clear that they will not stand by while union bosses and their allies in government play deceptive games with their First Amendment Janus rights, just so they can fill union coffers with more money from dissenting workers,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This message should now be overwhelmingly evident to the Supreme Court, which now has an opportunity to rectify lower courts’ gross misinterpretations of Janus, and clarify that public workers’ First Amendment rights can’t be limited to arbitrary windows created by union bosses or their political allies designed to undermine workers’ rights as recognized in the Janus decision.”

24 Oct 2021

Sixteen States Back Foundation’s Petition to High Court in Chicago Educator Case

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, September/October 2021 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Amicus brief: Unions “refuse to stop collecting dues despite unequivocal employee demands”

“Janus has been ignored,” wrote sixteen attorneys general in their amicus brief supporting Ifeoma Nkemdi and Joanne Troesch’s petition pressing the Supreme Court to hear their case and declare “escape periods” a First Amendment violation

“Janus has been ignored,” wrote sixteen attorneys general in their amicus brief supporting Ifeoma Nkemdi and Joanne Troesch’s petition pressing the Supreme Court to hear their case and declare “escape periods” a First Amendment violation.

WASHINGTON, DC – In July, sixteen attorneys general threw the support of their states behind Chicago Public Schools educators Ifeoma Nkemdi and Joanne Troesch, who are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case defending their First Amendment right to cut off union financial support as recognized in the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME decision.

In an amicus brief encouraging the High Court to hear the case, attorneys general from Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia argue that “escape period” restrictions like the one that Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) bosses foisted on Troesch and Nkemdi are a widespread threat to public employees’ rights under the Janus Supreme Court decision.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that public employees’ First Amendment rights are violated when they are forced to fund a union as a condition of employment. The Court also held that union dues can only be taken from a public employee with an affirmative and knowing waiver of that employee’s First Amendment right not to pay.

Unions Are Seizing Money from ‘Tens of Thousands’ Unconstitutionally, Brief Says

The CTU-concocted “escape period” Nkemdi and Troesch are challenging blocks employees from exercising their First Amendment Janus right to end union financial support except during one month per year. The educators’ petition for writ of certiorari presses the High Court to hear their case to affirm that Janus does not permit union bosses to profit from schemes that constrict workers’ constitutional right to refrain from subsidizing a union.

The states’ amicus brief emphasizes how glaringly union officials have flouted Janus with restrictions, as well as how widespread the schemes are: “Janus has been ignored. Across the country public-sector unions have resisted Janus’s instructions and devised new ways to compel state employees to subsidize union speech. Unions place onerous terms on dues forms that prohibit state employees from opting out of paying dues except during narrow (and undisclosed) windows during the year.”

The brief continues: “Unions refuse to inform state employees that they have a First Amendment right not to pay union dues. And unions refuse to stop collecting dues despite unequivocal employee demands. The result is that tens of thousands of state employees across the country are having dues deducted to subsidize union speech without any evidence that they waived their First Amendment rights . . . .”

Nkemdi and Troesch’s case “implicates these precise concerns” and the Court must hear it, the brief maintains.

In addition to the states’ brief, policy groups Goldwater Institute, Cato Institute, Freedom Foundation, and Liberty Justice Center filed amicus briefs backing the case.

Justices May Already Be Showing Interest in Foundation-Backed Case

In late July, the Supreme Court ordered lawyers for CTU and the Chicago Board of Education to file a response brief to Troesch and Nkemdi’s petition, a signal that some Justices may be interested in taking up the case.

Also pending at the High Court is Foundation attorneys’ anti- “escape-period” case for Susan Fischer and Jeanette Speck, two New Jersey teachers. Both that case and Troesch and Nkemdi’s case are expected to be fully briefed in October, after which the Justices will decide whether to take them.

“As union bosses continue to use deceptive ‘escape period’ arrangements to keep worker money flowing unconstitutionally into their coffers, support continues to roll in from across the country for Troesch and Nkemdi, who are sticking up for independent-minded public servants who simply want to serve their communities without being forced to fund union activities,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The High Court must weigh in to affirm that public workers’ First Amendment rights cannot be confined to union officials’ arbitrary schedules.”

20 Oct 2021

Los Angeles XPO Logistics Employees Free of Unwanted Teamsters Union After Requesting Vote for Removal

Posted in News Releases

Workers were previously barred for one year from exercising right to vote out union due to union boss-friendly restrictions created by National Labor Relations Board

Los Angeles, CA (October 20, 2021) – Ozvaldo Gutierrez and his coworkers at XPO Logistics’ Fashion District-area facility in Los Angeles have successfully forced Teamsters Local 63 union officials out of their workplace. Following Gutierrez’s submission of a petition bearing enough employee signatures to prompt the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to administer a vote to remove the union at the facility (or “decertification vote”), Teamsters officials backed down rather than face a vote of employees and disclaimed interest in continuing their control over the workers.

Gutierrez and his coworkers received free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys in their effort to remove the unwanted union. Teamsters Local 63 bosses’ departure from XPO comes amid a spurt of Foundation-backed employee legal actions opposing coercive behavior by Teamsters officials across Southern California.

Long Beach-area Savage Services employee Nelson Medina filed federal charges just weeks ago against Teamsters Local 848, maintaining that union bosses threatened to have him fired for refusing to join the union and pay various fees demanded by union officials. Medina is also leading an employee effort opposing Local 848’s presence in his facility, asserting union officials engaged in illegal ballot harvesting to gain power in the workplace.

In Ventura last month, Teamsters Local 848 bosses were also forced to depart Airgas worker Angel Herrera’s workplace after he and his coworkers filed a petition for an NLRB-administered vote to remove the union from the workplace. Herrera’s colleagues had been involved in litigation against Local 848 officials since 2020, and filed at least two different majority-backed employee petitions seeking the end of Local 848’s monopoly bargaining power.

Gutierrez and his coworkers on August 20, 2021 filed with the NLRB their petition seeking an election to decertify Teamsters Local 63. While the petition demonstrated sufficient employee support to trigger such a vote, Teamsters officials claimed in an opposition that a March 2020 settlement meant to kick off bargaining talks between them and XPO Logistics management should have prevented any such election.

Teamsters officials were trying to manipulate the “settlement bar,” a non-statutory NLRB precedent that restrains workers’ right to vote out unpopular union officials for up to a year while an employer and union officials attempt to bargain as ordered by a settlement. Foundation attorneys representing Gutierrez argued that a year had already passed between the first bargaining session between management and union bosses and Gutierrez’s filing of the petition, and that the union was wrong in claiming that delays in bargaining talks should have extended the “settlement bar” past the one-year mark.

The Regional Director of NLRB Region 21 in Los Angeles issued a decision on October 6 ordering that Gutierrez’s requested vote go forward, declaring that “a reasonable period has elapsed and that the settlement does not bar the processing of the instant petition.” The vote was slated for October 21, but on October 18 Teamsters Local 63 officials tapped out and announced they were abandoning the facility. The NLRB revoked the union’s certification the next day.

“We are happy that Mr. Gutierrez and his coworkers are finally free from unwanted Teamsters ‘representation’ and that we were able to help him and his coworkers defend their rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “However, workers should not have to obtain legal aid and endure months or even years of litigation just to exercise their right to dispense with unpopular union bosses. The flurry of similar cases involving Teamsters officials around Southern California is a growing cause for concern.”

“Any employees in California or elsewhere seeking to oust unwanted Teamsters officials from their workplaces should not hesitate to contact the Foundation for free legal aid,” Mix added.

14 Oct 2021

Lawsuits Challenging Union Dues Schemes for Illinois, New Jersey Teachers Fully Briefed at Supreme Court & Distributed for Conference

Posted in News Releases

Two lawsuits ask Court to eliminate ‘escape period’ schemes that restrict when workers can cut off union dues as violative of Court’s Janus precedent

Washington, DC (October 14, 2021) – Two class action lawsuits challenging “escape period” schemes imposed by union officials on public sector employees are fully briefed at the U.S. Supreme Court. The lawsuits were brought by public school educators in Illinois and New Jersey with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Yesterday Foundation attorneys filed their final briefs, and both cases were scheduled for consideration at the Court’s October 29th conference.

Chicago Public Schools educators Joanne Troesch and Ifeoma Nkemdi sued the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Chicago Board of Education over a union boss-created “escape period” scheme that blocks workers from exercising their right to terminate union dues deductions from their paychecks outside the month of August. New Jersey teachers Susan Fischer and Jeanette Speck sued the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) union for restricting when teachers can stop dues deductions and challenged a New Jersey statute that restricts the exercise of employees’ Janus rights to just 10 days, less than 3% of the year.

The Supreme Court ruled in its 2018 Janus decision that employees of state and local governments cannot be forced to pay union dues or fees, and that government workers must affirmatively consent before union dues are taken from their paychecks.

In Nkemdi and Troesch’s lawsuit, the Chicago educators explain they “did not know they had a constitutional right not to financially support” the union hierarchy until the fall of 2019, when they discovered their Janus rights while looking for information on how to continue working during a strike that CTU bosses ordered that October. They sent letters the same month to CTU officials to exercise their Janus right to resign union membership and cut off all dues deductions.

Both educators received no response until November of that year, when CTU officials confirmed receipt of the letters but said that they would continue to seize dues from the teachers’ paychecks “until September 1, 2020,” as allowed by the union’s “escape period” scheme. Troesch and Nkemdi demanded in their lawsuit that CTU union officials and the Board of Education stop enforcing the “escape period,” notify all bargaining unit employees that they can end dues deductions any time, and permit bargaining unit employees to claim back dues that were seized without their consent. Troesch and Nkemdi’s petition for Supreme Court review received amicus support from 16 state Attorneys General and seven public policy groups.

Fischer and Speck, who both worked in Ocean Township, NJ, attempted to exercise their Janus rights in July 2018, just a month after the High Court handed down the Janus decision. But Township officials told the teachers they could only stop payments and withdraw their memberships during an annual 10-day window. Unbeknownst to them, union partisans in the New Jersey legislature had actually established that “escape period” by law in May 2018 in an apparent attempt to undermine the pending Janus decision.

Fischer and Speck’s suit argued that because the Janus ruling affirmed public employees’ First Amendment right not to financially support union activities, the New Jersey law is unconstitutional and must be nixed. In addition to eliminating the “escape period” scheme, they seek a refund of membership dues for themselves and all other public employees who were blocked by NJEA officials from stopping dues deductions following Janus.

“Union-created ‘escape periods’ are a deliberate attack on the First Amendment right of public employees to stop funding government union bosses’ speech which was recognized in the Supreme Court’s Janus decision,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “Escape periods are one of the many ways union bosses try to keep workers paying dues without the trouble of attracting their voluntary support. The Supreme Court should take up this issue and end these widespread schemes to circumvent the Court’s Janus decision.”

13 Oct 2021

Attorney for Oregon Cameraman Who Beat CWA Union Bosses in Dues Dispute Says Labor Board General Counsel Must Recuse

Posted in News Releases

With union lawyers asking for reconsideration of NLRB decision, worker’s attorney points out conflict of interest created by GC Abruzzo’s work as CWA counsel

Washington, DC (October 13, 2021) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorney representing Portland, OR, cameraman Jeremy Brown just submitted a letter to National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel (GC) Jennifer Abruzzo, demanding that she be recused from any involvement in his case. Brown’s case, which the NLRB decided in August, successfully challenged several illegal actions by National Association of Broadcast and Entertainment Technicians-Communications Workers of America (NABET-CWA) union operatives, including its attorney.

The letter points out that Abruzzo, immediately prior to her appointment by President Biden as NLRB GC, “served as CWA’s ‘special counsel for strategic initiatives’” and “acted as that union’s ‘point person on National Labor Relations Board issues at’” the CWA’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Because Brown’s case concerns CWA’s international policy forcing workers like Brown who abstain from formal union membership to write the national union if they want to exercise their right to not pay for the union’s political activities, Abruzzo’s involvement in the case would constitute a serious conflict of interest, the letter argues.

Under the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision, nonmember private sector workers who live in states like Oregon lacking Right to Work protections cannot be forced as a condition of employment to pay fees to a union in their workplace, except those that union officials claim subsidize core bargaining expenses. In states with Right to Work protections, all union financial support is strictly voluntary.

Brown’s requests to reduce his dues per Beck were ignored by the CWA union local, due to the CWA’s international policy of only honoring such requests if sent to the union’s DC headquarters. Brown in August won a decision from the NLRB fully vindicating his rights, with the Board ruling that CWA union officials had to stop failing to honor Brown’s Beck requests and return all money to Brown that they had already seized from his wages in violation of the Beck mandate. The NLRB also held that intimidating “evidence preservation” letters CWA’s attorney sent Brown during the litigation fell “outside the bounds of legitimate efforts to ensure evidence preservation,” by among other things demanding unrelated GPS and pedometer data.

“Although the Board has issued a clear and well-thought-out decision in this case…the Respondent Union has filed a Motion for Reconsideration,” the letter to Abruzzo reads. “However, the Board’s decision and the Motion for Reconsideration both involve the policies of your former and most recent employer, CWA International.”

“Because CWA International’s nationwide Beck objector policy is bound up with this case and the proper remedies to be issued, you should recuse yourself from any further involvement in this case,” the letter demands. The letter details another reason for Abruzzo to recuse herself: “The CWA International exercises nearly total control over its Districts and Locals…. Accordingly, your position of authority in the CWA International must be imputed to authority over local and district affiliates, justifying your recusal from CWA matters at all levels including this case.”

The letter to Abruzzo is not the only action by the Foundation to curb NLRB conflicts of interest created by recent Biden NLRB appointees’ having come from union payrolls. Just last week, Foundation President Mark Mix demanded that the NLRB Inspector General remove NLRB Members Dave Prouty and Gwynne Wilcox – who before joining the Board were lawyers for powerful Service Employees International Union affiliates – from involvement in an NLRB case in which SEIU is suing the Board and its Members individually.

“Jennifer Abruzzo, who Foundation FOIA requests show engineered President Biden’s precedent-shattering ouster of her pro-worker freedom predecessor Peter Robb, already has an ugly track record of seeking to undermine the rights of independent-minded workers opposed to union affiliation,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Given her role in setting and influencing CWA policies that are implemented at every level of that union, Abruzzo has a clear conflict of interest that disqualifies her from any participation in Mr. Brown’s case or any other cases brought by workers against CWA affiliates.”

12 Oct 2021

Boston Bertolino Foods Employees Free from Unwanted UFCW Union After Submitting Majority-Backed Petition

Posted in News Releases

Over 75 percent of workers asked Bertolino management to withdraw recognition of union officials as monopoly bargaining ‘representative’

Boston, MA (October 12, 2021) – Bertolino Foods employee Jenifer Sedano and her coworkers have successfully booted unwanted United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1445 union officials from monopoly bargaining power at their workplace. With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, Sedano and her coworkers submitted to Bertolino management a petition demonstrating nearly 80 percent support for removing the union. Bertolino’s attorney announced last week that based on the workers’ petition it was withdrawing recognition from UFCW Local 1445.

Sedano and her coworkers thus successfully exercised rights protected under National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) precedent, which permits employers to withdraw recognition from unions that a majority of their employees have expressed a desire to remove.

UFCW bosses attained monopoly bargaining status at the Bertolino Foods facility in September 2020. After contract talks between Bertolino management and union officials had dragged on for almost a year, Sedano and her coworkers sought out help from Foundation staff attorneys in exercising their right to remove UFCW officials. Sedano ended up gathering signatures in favor of removal from 31 of 42 bargaining unit members, and submitted this petition to Bertolino management toward the end of August.

The letter from Bertolino’s attorney to Local 1445 dated September 30 reads, “Since the Union no longer represents a majority of the bargaining unit employees, it would be unlawful for the Company to continue to recognize and/or bargain with the Union. Accordingly, effective immediately on September 30, 2021, the Company withdraws recognition of UFCW, Local 1445 as the collective bargaining representative for its employees.”

Sedano and her coworkers join several other Foundation-assisted employees who have dispatched unwanted union representation across the country. Workers at Airgas in Ventura, CA, Rush University in Chicago, IL, and Desert Springs Hospital Center in Las Vegas, NV, have all successfully voted out or forced out by other legal means unpopular union officials just in the past few months.

“Ms. Sedano and an overwhelming majority of her coworkers clearly expressed that they no longer wanted to be under the power of UFCW officials, and their decision must be respected,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Foundation attorneys are prepared to fight to protect Sedano and her coworkers’ right to free themselves from the unwanted union, even if union bosses and the NLRB attempt to re-impose union control despite the workers’ overwhelming opposition to the union’s so-called ‘representation.’”

11 Oct 2021

Ohio Worker Defeats Unconstitutional ‘Administration Fee’ Imposed by IUOE Bosses

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, July/August 2021 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Union officials tried to rename forced fees outlawed by Janus Supreme Court victory

These are just a few of the other Buckeye State public servants whom Foundation staff attorneys have aided in safeguarding their First Amendment Janus rights since that case was decided in 2018 by the Supreme Court.

Above are just a few of the other Buckeye State public servants whom Foundation staff attorneys have aided in safeguarding their First Amendment Janus rights since that case was decided in 2018 by the Supreme Court.

CINCINNATI, OH – City of Hamilton (OH) employee Timothy Crane has successfully defended his First Amendment right to refrain from funding the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 20 hierarchy in his workplace.

Crane, who is not a union member, filed a lawsuit in December 2020 with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation that challenged so-called “agreement administration fees” that IUOE officials forced him to pay as a condition of keeping his job. IUOE bosses have now backed down by eliminating the forced-fees scheme and have refunded to Crane all fees that they seized from him under that arrangement.

Crane’s lawsuit maintained that the “agreement administration fee” requirement violated his rights under the Foundation-argued 2018 Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision. In Janus, the High Court ruled that no public worker can be coerced into paying union dues or fees as a condition of getting or keeping a job, and that union dues and fees can only be deducted from public servants’ paychecks with their affirmative and knowing consent.

The Court reasoned that, because all public sector union boss activities are directed at the government, forcing a public sector employee to pay anything to union officials counts as forced political speech and for that reason violates the First Amendment.

IUOE Officials Seized Deceptive Fee after Worker Exercised Janus Rights

“This case was about protecting my right to not pay for a political agenda that I oppose,” Crane told the Hamilton Journal-News this May. “I’m in favor of fair wages and a safe working environment. What I’m not in favor of is a union using my hard earned money to support a political party that I disagree with and that is dividing the country.”

According to Crane’s lawsuit, he sent letters to IUOE union officials in both August and September of last year attempting to exercise his First Amendment Janus right to end dues deductions from his paycheck. After sending these two letters, he discovered that instead of dues an “agreement administration fee” was being taken from his pay by municipal officials at the behest of IUOE union bosses.

His suit contended that this fee was indistinguishable from a so-called “agency fee” — a forced union payment charged to employees who refrain from formal union membership that was definitively outlawed by the Janus decision — and therefore unconstitutional despite masquerading under a different name.

Five Similar Illegal Dues Schemes Now Bucked by Buckeye State Employees

With this victory, Crane’s suit is now the fifth resolved favorably by Foundation staff attorneys for Buckeye State employees whose First Amendment Janus rights were being restricted by Ohio government union bosses.

This includes the July 2020 victory in the Allen v. AFSCME case, in which nearly 30,000 Ohio public employees were freed from an “escape period” scheme imposed by Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) union chiefs. That scheme limited to just a handful of days every few years the time when a public employee could exercise Janus rights.

“Once again, a Foundation-backed Ohio public employee has prevailed over a duplicitous attempt by union officials to keep worker money flowing illegally into union coffers while trampling workers’ First Amendment rights,” observed National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse. “The fact that Ohio union bosses have backed off enforcing these schemes several times now shows that they know the arrangements cannot stand up to serious legal scrutiny. With that in mind, Ohio public servants should not hesitate to reach out to the Foundation to defend their Janus rights.”