7 Oct 2022

Lexington-Area Leggett & Platt Employees Officially Free from Unpopular IAM Union after Six-Year Legal Battle

Posted in News Releases

Employee submitted majority-backed petition seeking ouster of union in accordance with federal Labor Board standards, but IAM officials fought it for years

Lexington, KY (October 7, 2022) – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Keith Purvis and his coworkers at furniture manufacturer Leggett & Platt have finally formally freed themselves from the control of unwanted International Association of Machinists (IAM) union officials. Purvis and his coworkers have been fighting since 2016 to exercise their right to remove the union.

The victory comes after a DC Circuit Court decision reversed the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and found that, under the Foundation-won Johnson Controls case, NLRB bureaucrats had arbitrarily allowed IAM union bosses to remain in power at the facility despite a petition showing a majority of workers wanted them gone. Following that DC Circuit decision, the NLRB finally confirmed that IAM union officials are no longer the bargaining “representatives” at Purvis’ workplace.

In the 2019 Johnson Controls decision, the NLRB established an employer’s power to cease recognition of a union in a workplace once the current monopoly bargaining agreement expires, provided employees have submitted a petition indicating the majority of them do not wish to be “represented” by the union. If union officials dispute their loss of majority support, the issue is resolved by a secret-ballot election among workers on whether the union should remain in power.

The Johnson Controls process is a marked improvement over the old standard, in which union officials could unilaterally invalidate a petition showing the majority of workers rejected the union by submitting “union cards” or other documentation purportedly showing the union had regained majority status. Before Johnson Controls, secret-ballot elections were generally not conducted to resolve these disputes, despite courts affirming that such elections are the best gauge of employee approval.

Even After Two Petitions for Union’s Ouster, Union Bosses Tried to Force Themselves Back into Facility

In 2016, Purvis submitted to Leggett & Platt management the first of two “decertification petitions,” which demonstrated a majority of his coworkers wanted the union removed from the facility. In response, his employer announced that it would stop recognizing IAM union officials on March 1, 2017. However, IAM union bosses filed charges with the NLRB immediately after, alleging that Leggett & Platt management’s withdrawal of recognition at employees’ behest was unlawful. Undeterred, Purvis gathered signatures for and submitted a second decertification petition, this time seeking a secret-ballot election conducted by the NLRB.

While litigation over union officials’ charges was pending before the DC Circuit Court in 2019, the NLRB issued the Johnson Controls decision. The DC Circuit Court sent the case back to the NLRB, ostensibly because Johnson Controls meant Leggett & Platt had acted lawfully by anticipatorily withdrawing recognition from the union when presented with a majority of employee signatures seeking that outcome.

The NLRB refused to apply the Johnson Controls standard to the case, but, when the case came before the DC Circuit Court again on appeal, the DC Circuit ruled that the NLRB’s refusal to do so was “arbitrary and capricious.” Finally, as September 2022 ended, the NLRB issued a decision confirming the IAM was no longer the majority representative, and IAM officials could not use litigation to foist monopoly bargaining power over the facility.

American Workers Increasingly Giving Boot to Unpopular Unions

Purvis and his coworkers’ successful exercise of their right to boot the unpopular IAM bosses comes as private sector workers across the country are increasingly moving to get rid of union officials that don’t serve their interests. The NLRB’s own data show that, currently, a unionized private sector worker is more than twice as likely to be involved in a decertification effort as the average nonunion worker is to be involved in a unionization campaign.

“No worker in America should be subjected to union control that they oppose, and the Foundation-won Johnson Controls NLRB decision safeguards a vital pathway for workers to exercise their free choice rights in that regard,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Unfortunately, as was the case with Mr. Purvis’ effort, union bosses and Big Labor allies at the NLRB continuously try to pare back this decision so union officials can maintain their grip on workplaces even when it’s obvious workers want them gone.”

“We’re glad Mr. Purvis and his coworkers are finally free of the union and we were proud to assist him,” Mix added.

2 Oct 2022

Slot Machine Technicians Appeal Outrageous Decision Denying Decertification Vote

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, July/August 2022 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

NLRB Regional Director stacks deck against Las Vegas employees opposed to union affiliation

 

Despite massive opposition from rank-and-file casino workers including protests outside union headquarters, biased NLRB rulings keep workers trapped in union ranks.

LAS VEGAS, NV – Red Rock Casino slot machine technician Jereme Barrios has asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC, to reverse an NLRB Region’s decision that blocks his and his coworkers’ right to vote out a union that a large majority of them have already expressed interest in removing. Barrios is receiving free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

In March, Barrios submitted a majority-backed petition to NLRB Region 28, asking the agency to conduct a union “decertification vote” amongst his fellow slot technicians on whether to kick out International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 501 officials.

Foundation Attorneys Excoriate Decision: ‘a Scattershot Mess’

However, the Region did not schedule the vote as Barrios and his coworkers had asked. NLRB Region 28 Director Cornele Overstreet instead ruled in April that largely unverified and unrelated allegations (also called “blocking charges”) union officials had made against the management of Station Casinos, Red Rock’s parent company, blocked the technicians from exercising their right to vote whether to remove the union.

Barrios’ Request for Review argues that the Region’s decision is unfounded, and requests that the NLRB in Washington, DC, reverse it and allow them to have an immediate decertification vote.

Barrios’ Request for Review begins by explaining that, even if any of the union’s “blocking charges” have merit, the NLRB Regional Director was ignoring Foundation-backed reforms in the rules regarding “blocking charges” that the NLRB formally adopted in 2020.

The reforms generally prevent union “blocking charges” from stalling an employee vote. Nevertheless, “The Regional Director ignored the current Election Rules and even refused to cite them,” Barrios’ Request for Review says.

But Barrios’ Foundation-provided attorneys go even deeper and show that many of the IUOE union officials’ allegations against casino management would not even be sufficient to block a vote under the old rules, primarily because they deal with workplace units other than Barrios’.

By that logic, “any employer’s unfair labor practice could block any decertification in any of its other units, no matter how remote,” Foundation staff attorneys argue.

The remaining union “blocking charges,” including an allegation that Red Rock management did not bargain over COVID-19 protections, either do not reveal actual violations of federal labor law by Red Rock management or have no causal connection to Barrios and his colleagues’ desire to remove the union.

More Workers Battle Unpopular Unions and Biased NLRB with Foundation Help

The slot techs’ effort comes as Red Rock hospitality and foodservice staff, led by Foundation-backed employee Raynell Teske, are battling an order from a federal district court judge that forces them under the “representation” of Culinary Union bosses. That order was issued despite the fact that a majority of the hospitality and foodservice employees voted in a secret-ballot election to reject Culinary Union officials’ effort to install themselves at the casino.

Foundation-represented Palms Casino engineering worker Thomas Stallings is also in a situation similar to Barrios’. Stallings and his coworkers are fighting another decision from NLRB Regional Director Overstreet that traps them under the monopoly control of unpopular IUOE and International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) officials, merely on the basis of “blocking charges” having little if anything to do with Stallings’ work unit.

Independent-Minded Workers Showing Courage in Face of Coercion

“Las Vegas is now where regional NLRB officials have, in multiple instances, reflexively sided with union boss requests to remain in power at workplaces in which a clear majority of workers want the union gone,” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse. “Las Vegas is indeed ‘Sin City,’ if the sin is disrespecting workers’ fundamental right to choose freely whether or not union bosses should speak for them.”

“Foundation attorneys are proud to stand by these courageous workers, who are fighting not only union coercion but an NLRB Regional Director seemingly determined to undermine the rights of workers opposed to union affiliation,” LaJeunesse added.

30 Sep 2022

South Jersey Bus Drivers Challenge Dues Trap Scheme in New Janus Lawsuit

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, July/August 2022 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Union officials concocted policy to stop drivers from ending union dues deductions

Tyron Foxworth

Tyron Foxworth followed union instructions to the letter when he tried to cut off IFPTE union dues late last year — but union bosses continued taking a cut of his pay.

CAMDEN, NJ – National Right to Work Foundation attorneys continue to defend the landmark 2018 Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision, helping workers across the country in fighting union boss schemes that restrict when public employees can exercise their right to cut off dues to a union they oppose.

Foundation attorneys are now aiding a group of drivers for the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) who are facing a particularly egregious example of union bosses’ resistance to the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling. According to the suit filed in May, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) union bosses are refusing to stop dues seizures — overtly violating the provisions of the union cards workers signed when they initially authorized the dues.

In Janus, the Court declared it a First Amendment violation to force public sector workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. The Court also recognized that union officials can only deduct dues from the paycheck of a public sector employee who has voluntarily waived his or her Janus rights.

In their federal civil rights lawsuit, SJTA drivers Tyron Foxworth, Doris Hamilton, Karen Burdett, Karen Hairston, Ted Lively, Arlene Gibson, and Stanley Burke assert that IFPTE union officials violated their Janus rights by seizing dues from their paychecks after their dues deduction revocations should have been effective.

The drivers’ lawsuit says they signed forms indicating they could ask that dues deductions stop, but that such requests would not be effective until either the January or July following the request. The suit notes that currently union officials are ignoring those terms of the dues deduction cards and continue to deduct money despite the drivers’ objections.

IFPTE Union Siphoned Dues in Contradiction to Signed Documents

All of the plaintiffs submitted letters to SJTA officials between October and November 2021 requesting that IFPTE dues deductions cease. They expected the deductions to stop in January 2022, as the cards they signed provided. But, the lawsuit notes, “each Plaintiff had union dues seized from their wages after January 1, 2022 despite providing a notice of withdrawal prior to that date.”

The IFPTE’s monopoly bargaining contract with SJTA restricts workers’ dues revocation requests to only July, clearly at odds with the cards the drivers signed. Union officials never informed the drivers of this restriction or asked for their consent to it.

“These South Jersey Transportation Authority drivers are just the latest in a long line of Foundation-backed public workers who have discovered, after trying to dissociate from an unwanted union, that union officials brazenly locked them in restrictive dues schemes without even a whiff of consent,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix told Politico after the suit’s filing.

Foundation attorneys argue in Foxworth and his colleagues’ lawsuit that IFPTE union officials, by taking union dues after January 1, 2022, without the workers’ consent, “violate Plaintiffs’ First Amendment right to free speech and association.” The drivers seek a judgment making union officials permanently stop deducting dues from their wages, and return all dues already taken from their paychecks illegally.

Drivers Demand Return of Dues Union Seized Unconstitutionally

“IFPTE officials clearly value union dues revenue more than the rights of the workers they claim to ‘represent.’ Not only are those officials rebuffing clear notice from workers that they no longer want to support the union’s activities, but they’re enforcing a restrictive dues policy about which workers had absolutely no knowledge,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix.

“Janus was unambiguous: A worker’s affirmative consent is required for any kind of dues deductions to occur, and that standard was clearly not met here.”

 

29 Sep 2022

Foundation Client Wins $5.1 Million Verdict After Union Boss-Instigated Firing

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, July/August 2022 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here

Trial exposed emails advocating ‘targeted assassinations’ of union critics

Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant Charlene Carter

Charlene Carter on her Foundation-won trial victory: “I am so humbled and thankful for today’s decision and for everyone who’s supported me these past five years.”

DALLAS, TX – Ex-Southwest Airlines flight attendant Charlene Carter prevailed in a federal jury trial in her lawsuit against the Transportation Workers Union of America (TWU) Local 556 union and Southwest. She charged both the company and union with illegally firing her for opposing the political activities of the union hierarchy, and with discriminating against her religious beliefs. Carter received free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.

A jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas awarded Carter $5.1 million in combined compensatory and punitive damages against TWU and Southwest for their respective roles in her unlawful termination.

“Today is a victory for freedom of speech and religious beliefs. Flight attendants should have a voice and nobody should be able to retaliate against any employee for engaging in protected speech against her union,” said Carter reacting to the victory.

Flight Attendant Called Out Union Officials for Their Political Activities

Carter resigned from union membership in 2013 but was still forced to pay fees to TWU Local 556 as a condition of her employment. The Railway Labor Act (RLA), the federal law that governs labor relations in the air and rail industries, permits the firing of employees for refusal to pay dues and preempts the protections that state Right to Work laws provide.

However, the RLA does protect employees’ rights to remain non-members of the union, to speak out against the union and its “leadership,” and to advocate for changing the union’s current “leadership.”

In January 2017, Carter, a pro-life Christian, learned that then-TWU Local 556 President Audrey Stone and other Local 556 officials used union dues to attend a political rally in Washington, D.C., which was sponsored by activist groups she deeply opposed, including Planned Parenthood.

Carter, a vocal critic of Stone and the union, sent private Facebook messages to Stone challenging the union’s support for political positions that were contrary to Carter’s beliefs, and expressing support for a recall effort that would remove Stone from power. Carter also sent Stone a message emphasizing her commitment to a National Right to Work law after the union had sent an email to employees telling them to oppose Right to Work.

After a meeting at which Southwest officials confronted Carter about her posts protesting union officials’ positions, the company fired Carter. In 2017 Carter filed her federal lawsuit, challenging the firing as a clear violation of her rights under two federal laws. She maintained that she lost her job because of her religious beliefs, standing up to TWU Local 556 officials, and criticizing the union’s political activities and how it spent employees’ dues and fees.

Ultimately, concluding an 8-day July trial, the federal jury agreed with Carter and her Foundation staff attorneys. In its verdict, the jury found in favor of Carter on all counts of the lawsuit, while awarding Carter $950,000 in damages against the TWU union local and more than $4 million in damages against Southwest.

Union Zealot Advocated ‘Targeted Assassinations” of Union Dissidents

In email communications unearthed and introduced at trial by Foundation staff attorneys, TWU union militants advocated for “targeted assassinations” of union dissidents and mocked Carter for being unable to stop her money from going toward union-backed causes she opposed.

Carter’s Foundation-backed lawsuit also revealed ugly examples of the hostility TWU officials and activists had for workers like Carter who spoke out against the incumbent union hierarchy. Foundation staff attorneys are preparing to counter already-announced appeals by both Southwest and TWU.

“This long-awaited verdict vindicates Ms. Carter’s fundamental right to dissent from the causes and ideas that TWU union officials support while forcing workers to bankroll that agenda,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Verdicts like this show not only that one brave worker standing up to union bullies can make a difference, but also send a message to union bosses that their unlawful tactics will not go unpunished or unchallenged.”

28 Sep 2022

Flight Attendant Battling Religious Discrimination Beats Union Attempt to End Case

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, July/August 2022 edition. Read here about how flight attendant Charlene Carter eventually won a jury verdict for $5.1 million. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Judge rules flight attendant’s case against union & airline should proceed to trial

Case Cleared for Takeoff: Charlene Carter’s lawsuit against TWU union bosses for firing her over her religious beliefs and support for Right to Work is now going to trial.

DALLAS, TX – On May 5, a federal judge ruled that former Southwest Airlines flight attendant Charlene Carter’s case charging Transportation Workers Union (TWU) officials and Southwest management with firing her illegally because of her exercise of her religious beliefs will continue at the U.S. District Court in Dallas. In doing so, the judge rejected requests from TWU and Southwest that they be granted an early victory in the case.

The judge tossed arguments from Southwest Airlines lawyers that Carter lacks a “private right of action” to enforce her rights under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), and its arguments that her case concerned only a “minor” dispute over interpretation of the union contract, which is outside the District Court’s jurisdiction.

He also rejected TWU’s and Southwest’s contentions that an arbitrator’s findings in a grievance under their monopoly bargaining agreement should control the claims in this case.

Flight Attendant Called Out Union Officials for Their Political Activities

As a Southwest employee, Carter joined TWU Local 556 in September 1996. A pro-life Christian, she resigned from union membership in September 2013 after learning that her union dues were being used to promote causes that violate her sincerely held religious beliefs.

Although Carter resigned from union membership, she was still forced to pay fees to TWU Local 556 as a condition of her employment. State Right to Work laws do not protect her from forced union fees because airline and railway employees are covered by the RLA.

The RLA allows union officials to have a worker fired for refusing to pay union dues or fees. But it also protects employees’ rights to remain non-members of the union, to criticize the union and its leadership, and advocate for changing the union’s current leadership or removing the union altogether.

Carter sent TWU Local 556 President Audrey Stone Facebook messages sharply criticizing the union and its officials upon learning that they had used union dues to support political causes and events she opposed. The Court’s ruling noted that forced fees from objecting workers like Carter were used to fund such activities.

Carter took to social media to challenge Stone’s leadership and to express support for a recall effort that would remove Stone from power. Carter sent Stone messages affirming her commitment to both the recall effort and her support for a National Right to Work law after the union had emailed employees urging them to oppose Right to Work.

Carter was notified by Southwest managers that they needed to have a mandatory meeting as soon as possible about her personal “Facebook posts they had seen.” During this meeting, Southwest interrogated Carter about her posts and messages, as well as her Facebook messages to Stone opposing the union’s activities.

Carter explained her religious beliefs and opposition to the union’s political activities — opposition protected by the RLA. However, a week after this meeting, Southwest fired Carter.

In 2017, Carter filed her federal lawsuit with help from Foundation staff attorneys to challenge the firing as an abuse of her rights. Her suit asserts she lost her job because of her religious beliefs, her opposition to TWU Local 556 officials, and criticism of the union’s political activities and spending of employees’ dues and fees.

Federal Judge Rebuffs Union and Airline Attempts to End Case Early

“[H]aving determined that Carter has a private right of action under [the RLA] and that this case concerns a major dispute,” the federal judge assigned to the case ruled that genuine disputes of material fact exist and the case must proceed to trial.

“This decision is an important step towards long overdue justice for Charlene. The ruling rejects several attempts by Southwest and union officials to deny Ms. Carter’s right to bring this case in federal court to enforce her federally protected speech and association rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse.

23 Sep 2022

Sacramento-area Pine Creek Care Center Nurses Overwhelmingly Vote to Oust Unwanted Teamsters Union

Posted in News Releases

Federal labor board data show that workers across the country are increasingly likely to be involved in efforts to remove unions from workplaces

Sacramento, CA (September 23, 2022) – Seron Chand and her fellow nurses at Pine Creek Care Center, a Roseville nursing and rehabilitation facility, successfully exercised their right to vote unwanted Teamsters Local 150 union bosses out of their workplace. Chand obtained free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, who aided her in filing a petition asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to conduct a vote to remove the union (also known as a “decertification vote”).

The NLRB’s election certification showed more than 70% of the nurses voted to scrap the union. The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing private sector labor law, which includes holding employee votes to either remove or install a union in a workplace.

Chand and her colleagues benefitted from Foundation-backed reforms adopted by the NLRB in 2020, which make it easier for workers to exercise their right to boot unwanted union officials. Before the reforms, union officials could stop workers who had requested a decertification vote from casting a single ballot by filing so-called “blocking charges,” which often contain unverified and unrelated allegations of employer misconduct. The rule changes improved the process so employees can at least have a chance to vote before any allegations surrounding the election are handled.

Because California lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector workers, Chand and her fellow nurses were forced not only to accept the so-called “representation” of the clearly unpopular Teamsters union, but were required to subsidize union activities financially just to keep their jobs. In Right to Work states, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary.

Pine Creek Nurses Join Nurses Across the Country Who Have Cut Ties with Unpopular Unions

Just a month before Chand and her colleagues’ successful decertification vote, Foundation attorneys aided nurses at Mayo Clinic in Mankato, Minnesota, in their successful effort to throw out the unpopular Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) union from their workplace. About the same time, nurses from the St. James, Minnesota, branch of Mayo Clinic voted to decertify American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 65 union officials by a nearly 9-to-1 margin, also with Foundation legal assistance.

In California, Foundation-backed nurses at Monterey’s Cypress Ridge Care Center voted to remove Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2015 officials a few months ago.

The increase in efforts by workers to free themselves from unions they do not want is not limited to nurses. The NLRB’s own data show that, currently, a unionized private sector worker is more than twice as likely to be involved in a decertification effort as the average nonunion worker is to be involved in a unionization campaign.

“Big Labor is claiming that worker support for unions is soaring – a narrative that they will use ahead of midterm elections to convince their political allies to grant them even more coercive legal powers over rank-and-file workers,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “However, the NLRB’s own stats concerning unionization, as well as a spike in workers seeking Foundation aid in kicking out unwanted union officials, show that the real story is that workers are rejecting the increasingly politicized and coercive ‘representation’ today’s union officials are offering.”

21 Sep 2022

Healthcare Workers at Cuyuna Hospital Successfully Petition for Votes to Remove Union

Posted in News Releases

NLRB reverses itself after wrongly undercounting number of technical employees seeking vote to remove union

Minneapolis, MN (September 21, 2022) – A vote to remove union representation at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will move forward after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 18 reversed itself and admitted to undercounting workers’ signatures in support of removing the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) from their workplace. National Right to Work staff attorneys filed a Request for Review on August 24, 2022, pointing out that the Region clearly miscounted the number of valid signatures on a union decertification petition. Now that the NLRB has acknowledged its mistake, a new pre-election hearing date is scheduled for later this month.

Employee Laurie Murphy filed the decertification petition for CRMC Unit II technical employees, which includes employees in the laboratory, respiratory therapy, physical therapy and radiology departments, plus licensed practical nurses, engineers, certified occupational therapy assistants, pharmacy technicians, and accredited records technicians.

“CRMC employees would like to work for an organization that doesn’t have to run everything through the union. CRMC is a great company to work for and they care about all of their employees,” Ms. Murphy said in a statement explaining the widespread support among her Cuyuna Regional Medical Center colleagues for removing the SEIU.

“In my opinion, all they are is a middleman that we pay to ‘negotiate’ on our behalf with our employer. Frankly, I feel who better to negotiate on my behalf than myself,” added Murphy. “I don’t see any benefit in having a union at CRMC.”

Under federal law, when the required number of workers in a bargaining unit sign a petition seeking the removal of union officials’ monopoly bargaining powers, an NLRB-conducted secret ballot vote whether to remove the union is triggered. If a majority of workers casting ballots against vote for the union, the union is stripped of its government-granted monopoly “representation” powers.

Those powers let union officials impose contracts on all workers in the workplace, even workers who are not union members and oppose the union. Further, because Minnesota is not a Right to Work state, union-imposed contracts can include mandatory union dues or fees, with nonmember workers fired if they do not pay.

Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the federal statute the NLRB implements, workers possess an specified statutory right to remove an unwanted union through a decertification election. Yet the NLRB has invented out of whole cloth a “contract bar” that blocks workers’ right to hold a decertification election for up to three years after union officials and a company finalize a monopoly bargaining contract.

After miscounting the signatures, the NLRB Regional Director cited the “contract bar” as a reason for dismissing the petition. Had the Region not ultimately reversed itself, that erroneous decision could have blocked a decertification vote for three more years because of the contract bar.

In response, Murphy’s Foundation staff attorneys filed a Request for Review with the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C., asking them to not only review the dismissal of the petition, citing the undercounting of workers’ signatures, but also to reconsider the “contract bar” given its role in stifling workers’ statutory right to a decertification vote. Before the NLRB could rule the Region, finally admitting its miscount, reversed the earlier ruling not to move forward with the vote the workers had requested.

“We’re glad to see Ms. Murphy and her coworkers able to move forward with their decertification election, clear mistakes by the NLRB all of which, perhaps not coincidentally, served the interests of SEIU union bosses who don’t want to face a vote of rank-and-file workers,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The fact that a worker needs our legal support and expertise just to get the Labor Board to do really simple math is just the latest example of how the NLRB is biased against workers who oppose coercive unionization.”

Union Seeking to Destroy Ballots of Cuyuna Regional Medical Center Clerical Workers Who Want to Remove SEIU

The technical employees covered by Murphy’s petition are not the only group of workers at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center seeking to free themselves of unwanted SEIU so-called “representation.” Also with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, CRMC employee Terri Larson filed a separate decertification petition for clerical employees working in the business office or medical records department.

The clerical employees’ petition was promptly processed by the NLRB and a mail-ballot decertification election has already taken place. However, before the votes could be counted, the SEIU sought to block the election by filing “blocking charge” allegations. Now, not only are the votes impounded, the NLRB has announced it intends to decide whether or not to destroy the ballots at the request of SEIU lawyers.

“As this situation shows, winning the right to hold a decertification vote is often just the beginning for workers seeking to free themselves from union wanted union ‘representation,’” added Mix. “Biased NLRB-invented procedures give union officials the ability to block the tallying of votes against the union, often indefinitely, leaving workers trapped in union ranks they overwhelmingly oppose.”

19 Sep 2022

In Attempt to Avoid Being Voted Out, PA Steelworkers Union Bosses Secretly ‘Ratify’ Contract Workers Twice Overwhelmingly Rejected

Posted in News Releases

Workers petitioned for election to oust union after first vote against contract, but union boss secretly signed unpopular contract in July anyway to maintain power

Franklin, PA (September 19, 2022) – Workers at Latrobe Specialty Steel’s facility (also known as Carpenter Technology) in Franklin, PA, are fighting Steelworkers union officials’ attempt to trap them under a union contract workers voted down twice. Their effort follows union bosses’ secret “ratification” of the unpopular contract despite telling workers that their votes would determine whether the contract would go into effect. Latrobe Specialty Steel employees are seeking to “decertify,” i.e. vote out, the Steelworkers Union with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

Kerry Hunsberger leads an employee push to vote out the Steelworkers union at Latrobe Specialty Steel. Hunsberger’s attorneys filed a brief this week at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) arguing that union officials concocted an improbable contract ratification story to avoid being voted out by the workers they claim to “represent.” The union bosses admit to signing the unpopular contract behind workers’ backs in an attempt to trigger the NLRB’s so-called “contract bar” policy. The “contract bar” arbitrarily immunizes unions from employee decertification votes for up to three years after a contract between union and company officials is finalized.

Steelworkers Union Officials Signed Unpopular Contract to Avoid Being Voted Out by Workers

Latrobe Specialty Steel workers first voted July 25 on the contract drawn up by Steelworkers union officials. The workers soundly rejected the contract, and Hunsberger began collecting employee signatures for a “decertification petition” shortly afterwards. The NLRB will administer a union decertification election among the workers of a facility if the petition contains the signatures of 30% or more of the employees.

According to documents and transcripts filed with the NLRB, when Steelworkers union officials discovered a decertification petition was circulating, they secretly signed the disfavored contract on July 28, without telling the employees or the employer, in an attempt to activate the “contract bar” rule and avoid being voted out.

In their haste to enact the employee-rejected contract to trigger the “contract bar,” union officials didn’t even finalize critical details of the contract like the start and end dates. Even though the union claims this contract was supposedly in effect on July 28, union officials held a new employee ratification vote on August 1, encouraging workers to ratify the contract, but not telling them their “vote” was a meaningless formality because the contract was already signed and in effect.

Hunsberger submitted a valid decertification petition on August 1, just hours before the sham contract vote occurred. As with the previous vote, the workers again lopsidedly rejected the contract. But later that night, union officials suddenly announced to the employer that the contract was already in effect and the ratification vote was a nullity because of the union bosses’ covert signing on July 28. According to the trial transcript, one union boss admitted under oath that the Steelworkers union executes contracts despite employees voting them down, and that he did so in this case and ignored the employees’ vote against the contract “to protect the integrity of the union.” Apparently the Steelworkers bosses’ lust for monopoly bargaining power and compulsory union payments takes precedence over employee democracy.

In fact, the Steelworkers Union’s post-hearing brief openly admits that union officials “executed the contract on July 28 to… pre-empt the decertification petition circulating at the facility” and that the August 1 “vote was only taken as a courtesy to employees [and] was an attempt to obtain their blessing of the contract that the [union officials] had already executed.”

In the same brief union bosses doubled down on their deceptive practices, stating that “the Union’s representations to employees here are irrelevant… and the union was within its discretion to take a vote of its members and was not obligated to abide by the results of such a vote” (emphasis added).

Hunsberger now waits for Regional NLRB officials to decide if union bosses’ ploy to hastily “ratify” an incomplete and unpopular contract over the objections of multiple workers’ votes successfully blocked workers’ statutory right to a decertification vote.

Foundation President: “Contract Bar” Policy Encourages Anti-Democratic Gamesmanship by Union Bosses

Foundation attorneys’ brief defending Hunsberger and her coworkers’ right to vote the union out argues that the contract never took effect due to the lack of a discernible effective date as well as the lack of an employee vote in favor of ratification. The Foundation attorney’s brief argues that Steelworkers officials’ assertions that they entered into a binding contract are “nothing more than a smokescreen, concocted by a desperate and unpopular Union to entrench itself and bar employee free choice” by manipulating the “contract bar.”

“The ‘contract bar’ arbitrarily blocks, often for years, workers’ statutory right under federal law to vote out union officials they oppose. Worse, it encourages union officials to cynically impose a contract at all costs, especially when union bosses know rank-and-file workers would see such a contract as a reason to want to be free of so-called union ‘representation,’” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Immunizing union officials from being voted out by the workers they claim to ‘represent’ creates an incentive structure in which union boss power comes first and majority support among workers comes last.”

“This case presents an easy choice for the NLRB: defend the rights of rank-and-file workers or side with Steelworkers union officials who repeatedly misled those workers and twice disregarded their votes simply to protect union power and compulsory dues,” added Mix.

9 Sep 2022

Blue Ridge Parkway Employee Challenges Federal Agency Decision Blocking Right to Vote Out AFGE Union

Posted in News Releases

Employee request for vote to oust union was denied after Federal Labor Relations Authority merged two units without employee consent

Washington, DC (September 9, 2022) – National Park Service (NPS) employee Lauren Labrie has just filed a brief at the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), opposing an order blocking her and her coworkers’ right to vote American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union officials out of power.

Her brief, filed with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, challenges the FLRA’s dismissal of a “union decertification petition” seeking an election to remove the union. Labrie and her colleagues signed the petition after FLRA officials administratively merged their work unit with another without any vote by her and her fellow employees on the new arrangement. Union officials and the FLRA then cited the merger as a reason to block the decertificiation vote the workers requested.

The brief challenges the FLRA’s suspect position that, under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Act, an employee-requested election to remove a union can be blocked after a union is installed by agency fiat through “unit consolidation.” The only “election bar” authorized by the statute is one for 12 months after employees have voted to install a union by secret ballot, the brief argues.

FLRA “Consolidated” Units at Union Behest, Then Stopped Workers from Voting on Union

Labrie’s brief explains that she and her fellow Blue Ridge Parkway NPS employees were under the control of two different AFGE union locals as of June 2021. AFGE union officials then petitioned to consolidate the two units, and a regional FLRA official approved the move in September 2021 – without giving employees any opportunity to vote on whether they wanted the merger.

In December 2021, the petition to decertify AFGE as the union with control over the workers was filed. The petition was signed by a number of her colleagues sufficient to trigger an FLRA-administered election whether to remove the union. A regional FLRA official dismissed the petition in March 2022, claiming it was blocked by a 12-month “election bar” stemming from the top-down, unilateral consolidation of the work units.

Park Employee’s Brief: Blocking Election Stifles Employees’ Free Choice Rights

Foundation attorneys argue in Labrie’s brief that applying “election bars” after agency-imposed unit consolidations violates federal employees’ free choice rights, which the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Act was meant to protect.

“In passing the Statute, Congress’ intent was to promote secret ballot elections and employees’ freedom to choose their representative under the Statute,” the brief says. “Not allowing employees to exercise their free choice because the Authority administratively combined two bargaining units undermines Congress’ goal of promoting the right of employees to select their own agent.”

The brief asks that the FLRA reverse its decision blocking Labrie and her coworkers’ vote and immediately hold an election.

Labrie’s defense of her and her coworkers’ request to decertify the AFGE union comes as Foundation attorneys are aiding private sector workers across the country in defending their right to vote out union officials of whom they disapprove. Unfortunately, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency responsible for overseeing labor relations in the private sector, has just announced rulemaking to undo Foundation-backed 2020 reforms that make it harder for union officials to stop workers from exercising this right.

“Union officials in both the public and private sectors want to maintain their coercive grip on workplaces across the country, regardless of how many workers oppose their monopoly so-called ‘representation,’” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Thanks to the Foundation-won Janus Supreme Court precedent, Ms. Labrie and her fellow park employees at least have a First Amendment right to cut off any dues payments to AFGE union bosses they oppose.”

“But the fact that FLRA officials are letting union officials dodge employee-requested decertification votes simply by consolidating units shows the degree to which union power is not a function of rank-and-file support, but a result of the way government policy entrenches union bosses to the detriment of individual workers’ rights,” Mix added.

8 Sep 2022

National Right to Work Foundation Issues Special Legal Notice for Minnesota Nurses Impacted by MNA Strike Threat

Posted in News Releases

Strike would affect up to 15,000 nurses in the Twin Cities and Twin Ports, but healthcare workers have right to rebuff union boss strike demand

Twin Cities, MN (September 8, 2022) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation issued a special legal notice for nurses potentially affected by a strike being threatened by Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) union officials at 15 hospital locations in the Twin Cities, Duluth, and Superior Wisconsin. The strike is reportedly scheduled to start September 12, 2022.

Because of the MNA unions’ monopoly power, the strike scheduled by MNA will affect up to 15,000 nurses, impacting the care of countless patients. The Foundation’s legal notice informs nurses of the rights union officials often conceal, including that the nurses have the right not to abandon their patients but instead to continue providing medical care while also working to support their families.

Importantly, the notice gives workers who want to exercise their right to work information on how to avoid fines and punishment that would likely be imposed by union officials.

“While a strike vote does not mean a strike is imminent, the situation raises serious concerns for employees who believe there is much to lose from a union-ordered strike,” the legal notice reads. “If a strike occurs, 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 Foundation’s special legal notice highlights workers’ rights to resign union membership and to revoke their union dues check-offs. In just the past few months National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have assisted hundreds of Minnesota nurses, many in decertification votes to remove unwanted union “representation.”

Recently, Foundation staff attorneys assisted hundreds of nurses at the Mayo Clinic in Mankato, Minnesota. There, nurses voted to remove Minnesota Nurses Association union officials. Union officials attempted to overturn the vote, but failed after Foundation staff attorneys defended the outcome for the nurses before the National Labor Relations Board.

Currently, staff attorneys represent nurses at Mayo Clinic Lake City in Minnesota who seek a vote to free themselves from MNA. Additionally, Foundation staff attorneys are also assisting nurses at four Cuyuna Regional Medical Center locations in exercising their right to obtain a vote to free themselves of unwanted union so-called “representation.”

The National Right to Work Foundation is the nation’s premier organization, exclusively dedicated to providing free legal assistance to employee victims of forced unionism abuse. The full special notice for the nurses can be found at https://www.nrtw.org/mnastrike2022/ 

“For decades, the Foundation has provided free legal aid to workers to protect them from Big Labor’s coercive tactics, which are especially common during union boss-instigated strikes,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said. “Nurses always have the right to continue to work during a strike, despite what union officials may tell them or try to pressure them into doing.”

“However, for nurses who choose not to abandon their patients, there are important steps they should take to protect themselves from vindictive union retaliation,” added Mix.