9 Jun 2022

Teamsters Officials Hit With Federal Charges for Having USF Holland Worker Illegally Fired

Posted in News Releases

NLRB charges filed against union and employer after company fired worker for exercising his right not join the union

Jackson, MN (June 8, 2022) – Jannie Potgieter, who up until recently was a freight employee at industrial park USF Holland in Jackson, Minnesota, has filed federal charges against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 120 union and his employer. Mr. Potgieter’s charges say that Teamsters bosses became hostile because he exercised his right not to be a union member, and that USF Holland officials illegally terminated him at Teamster officials’ behest. Mr. Potgieter is receiving free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.

Mr. Potgieter’s charges were filed on May 27, 2022, with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act and adjudicates disputes among private sector employers, unions, and individual employees. The charges state that on May 18, 2022, a USF Holland manager discharged him because he exercised his rights under Communications Workers of America v. Beck (1988).

Because Minnesota lacks Right to Work protections for private sector employees, unions can force them to pay union fees as a condition of keeping their jobs. However, under Communications Workers v. Beck, a U.S. Supreme Court decision won by Foundation staff attorneys, formal union membership cannot be required, nor can payment of the part of dues used for non-bargaining expenditures like union political activities. In contrast, in the 27 states with Right to Work protections, union membership and financial support are strictly voluntary.

Recently, Foundation attorneys aided Remmington Duk after his employer, Robert Basil Buick GMC, and International Association of Machinists (IAM) illegally terminated Mr. Duk for exercising his Beck rights. In that case both the employer and union quickly backed down, ultimately paying Duk more than $18,000 in settlements, in addition to being required to post notices informing other workers of their Beck rights.

“Foundation attorneys will continue to defend workers who are illegally threatened by union officials for exercising their rights, including not to become a formal union member and not to fund union political activities,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Employers that illegally fire workers at the behest of union officials will similarly be held accountable by Foundation attorneys.”

“Ultimately, this case shows why Minnesota workers need the protection of a Right to Work law to ensure all union payments strictly voluntary,” Mix added. “While Mr. Potgieter knew his rights enough not to simply give into Teamsters’ bosses illegal demands, there are almost certainly countless other workers who pay out of fear, not only for their livelihoods but also as a result of the Teamsters and other union bosses’ well-earned reputation for deploying thuggish tactics.”

6 Jun 2022

Worker Advocate Demands Department of Labor and Department of Justice Investigate Michigan SEIU Local’s “Serious Financial Malpractice”

Posted in News Releases

Michigan hospital workers seek to oust Healthcare Michigan union SEIU International recently put into trusteeship

Detroit, MI (June 6, 2022) – Today, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix formally asked the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney of Michigan, and the Office of Labor-Management Standards to investigate serious allegations of financial wrongdoing by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) affiliate Healthcare Michigan (HCMI). Foundation staff attorneys are providing free legal aid to workers at Sinai-Grace Hospital who are seeking a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decertification vote whether to remove HCMI officials from their workplace.

About the time the workers filed their second decertification petition to end the union’s so-called “representation” of the bargaining unit, the SEIU International announced it was putting the local into trusteeship due to serious and longstanding wrongdoing by local union officials. In her letter announcing the decision to take over the local, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry concluded that there are “substantiated allegations of serious financial malpractice” and other issues of impropriety at HCMI.

Citing the SEIU’s trusteeship announcement, the National Right to Work Foundation President demanded that officials at the Department of Justice and Department of Labor also investigate HCMI union officials for illegally abusing their power, committing financial misdeeds, and possibly filing false reports with the Labor Department: “Any internal SEIU International investigation will be insufficient. There is a long history of union officials attempting to ignore or downplay corruption in their own ranks.”

The Sinai-Grace Hospital workers’ first petition seeking a vote to oust HCMI union officials was blocked after the NLRB sided with union lawyers in interpreting ambiguous union contract language to find that petition untimely. The sloppy contract language was negotiated by the union officials whom the SEIU International has now removed from power for, among other things, apparent malfeasance in properly accounting for how they spent workers’ dues money.

Undeterred by that NLRB ruling, the workers filed a second decertification petition after the contract with the vague language expired, again with sufficient number of signatures of Sinai-Grace Hospital employees to trigger the vote. NLRB Region 07 is expected to set dates to begin a decertification vote in the very near future.

“These latest developments show why these workers should not have been blocked in their earlier attempt to have a vote to oust HCMI from their workplace,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Union officials frequently look the other way when confronted with wrongdoing by others within the union hierarchy, so it is telling that even an SEIU International top boss says HCMI officials are unfit to run the local.”

“This situation demonstrates that it is time to end Big Labor’s government-granted power to impose its so-called ‘representation’ on workers who don’t want anything to do with a union,” continued Mix. “Rank-and-file workers should not have to navigate the NLRB’s labyrinth of rules for decertification elections just to escape an unwanted union, and individual workers should be allowed to decide for themselves whether to have a union represent them.”

5 Jun 2022

Courageous Tennessean Wins Big in Union Discrimination Suit

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

LIUNA union official disparaged faith of employee and sent her priest ‘remedial church readings’

Dorothy Frame

“This is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done in my life,” Frame said of her victory over LIUNA officials. For more on her case watch our video with Frame’s Foundation attorney at the bottom of this page.

CLARKSVILLE, TN – Workers who seek free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation often stand up for their rights despite real threats union bosses make on their livelihoods and their ability to provide for their families. For Tennessee employee Dorothy Frame, who just won a major settlement against Laborers International Union (LIUNA) officials with Foundation aid, all that and more was at risk. She believed LIUNA officials’ forced-dues demands violated her religion.

Frame filed a complaint against LIUNA in November 2021, asserting that union officials illegally discriminated against her by forcing her, in violation of her Catholic beliefs, to fund the union’s activities through mandatory union dues payments. Frame voiced her religious objections to the union’s political activities, but union officials repeatedly rejected and ridiculed her request for a religious accommodation.

Under the settlement, as a condition of dismissing the lawsuit against LIUNA, union officials paid Frame $10,000 in damages. The settlement also required the LIUNA officials’ attorney to send an apology letter to Frame for the union’s inappropriate conduct.

Frame first requested a religious accommodation in 2019, when she sent “a letter informing [LIUNA] of the conflict between her religious beliefs and the requirement that she join or pay the Union.”

Tennessee has a Right to Work law ensuring that private sector workers in the state cannot be compelled to pay dues as a condition of employment. But Fort Campbell, the location of Blanchfield Army Community Hospital where Frame worked, may be an exclusive “federal enclave” not subject the state’s Right to Work law.

LIUNA Officials: Worker’s Religious Objections to Forced Dues ‘Illegitimate’

Frame’s former employer, J&J Worldwide Service, maintains a union monopoly contract with LIUNA union bosses that forces employees to pay union dues or fees to keep their jobs.

Frame’s July 2019 letter included a message from her parish priest supporting her request for a religious accommodation. Federal law prohibits unions from discriminating against employees on the basis of religion, and requires unions to provide accommodations to workers who oppose dues payment on religious grounds.

Instead, LIUNA officials denigrated her beliefs. In addition to demanding she provide a “legitimate justification” for why her conflict with the union’s activity warranted a religious accommodation, a union lawyer claimed in a letter to Frame that her understanding of her faith was inferior to his own understanding of her faith. He even closed the letter by sending Ms. Frame and her priest remedial church readings.

Frame subsequently filed a discrimination charge against LIUNA with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in December 2019. Even after EEOC proceedings continued and Frame’s attorneys sent letters showing the conflict between the union’s stance and her religious views, union officials still refused to accommodate her beliefs and refused to return money they took from her paycheck after she requested an accommodation.

Ultimately, the EEOC issued Frame a “right to sue” letter leading to her federal anti-discrimination lawsuit, filed by Foundation staff attorneys, resulting in her victory.

“Despite being targeted with years of bullying and discrimination by LIUNA officials, Ms. Frame refused to forsake her religious beliefs and stood firm for her rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “She has now prevailed decisively against LIUNA’s illegal attempt to force her to choose between remaining true to her beliefs and staying employed.”

Forced-Dues Privileges Open Door for Union Discrimination against Workers

“The National Right to Work Foundation is proud to stand with principled workers like Ms. Frame. Big Labor’s government-granted privilege to force rank-and-file workers to support union boss activities creates a breeding ground for malfeasance and anti-worker abuse,” Mix continued. “No American worker should have to pay tribute to a union they oppose just to keep their job, whether their objections are religious or otherwise.”

3 Jun 2022

Puerto Rico Police Bureau Employees Hit Union and Bureau with Federal Lawsuit for Illegally Denying Healthcare Benefits

Posted in News Releases

Union officials had police bureau rescind benefit after employees exercised their First Amendment right to abstain from formal union membership & dues

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

San Juan, PR (June 3, 2022) – Eight civilian employees of the Puerto Rico Police Bureau (PRPB) are suing the Union of Organized Civilian Employees and their employer for illegally retaliating against them for the exercise of their constitutional rights. Their suit says bureau and union officials are depriving them of a monthly health benefit because they are not union members. National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys are representing the workers for free and filed their class-action suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.

The plaintiffs, Vanessa Carbonell, Roberto Whatts Osorio, Elba Colon Nery, Billy Nieves Hernandez, Nelida Alvarez Febus, Linda Dumont Guzman, Sandra Quinones Pinto, and Yomarys Ortiz Gonzalez are defending their First Amendment rights recognized in the 2018 Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision.

In Janus, the High Court ruled that forcing public sector employees to join or fund a union as a condition of employment violates the First Amendment. The Justices also declared that union dues can only be taken from public sector workers who have voluntarily waived their right not to pay.

Under the laws of Puerto Rico and many states, union officials are empowered to impose their “representation” on every employee in a workplace, even those who reject formal union membership or vote against installing a union. Workers subjected to this monopoly power cannot negotiate their own terms of employment. Instead they are forced by the law under the union’s one-size-fits-all monopoly contract, even though such contracts often undermine the interests of many covered workers.

Although courts have recognized that such government-imposed union “representation” infringes on workers’ First Amendment right to freedom of association, they have thus far allowed forced union representation so long as union officials do not use it to engage in explicit discrimination, including on the basis of formal union membership, as is happening to the PRPB employees.

The legal doctrine that makes such discriminatory contract terms illegal was first adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case in which union officials were wielding their monopoly bargaining power to discriminate against workers on the basis of race.

Discriminatory Policy Shuts Union Nonmembers Out of Better Health Insurance

According to the lawsuit, the employee plaintiffs are nonmembers who have exercised their right under Janus to end union membership and cut off union dues deductions. When they exercised that right at various points after the 2018 Janus decision, each noticed that as soon as dues ceased coming out of their paycheck they also stopped receiving a $25-a-month employer-paid benefit intended to help employees pay for health insurance.

“[T]he Union, through its president, Jorge Méndez Cotto, asked PRPB to stop awarding the $25 monthly additional employer contribution to any bargaining unit member who objected to [forced] membership…,” the complaint says.

“Plaintiffs are ready, willing, and able to purchase additional and higher quality health insurance benefits with the additional employer contribution that is being denied to them,” the complaint points out. “But for the above-described discriminatory policy, they would purchase better quality health insurance.”

The employees contend in the lawsuit that the rescission of the health benefit is a gambit to restrict their First Amendment Janus rights. “The policy and practice…of withholding the additional employer contribution from nonunion bargaining unit members, violates the employees’ constitutional rights by coercing them to join the Union,” the lawsuit says.

Suit Demands Union and the Bureau Disburse Inappropriately Withheld Money to All Targeted by Scheme

The eight employees seek a judgment requiring the union and PRPB to stop holding back the health benefit from their paychecks, and also to pay to them all money that has been unlawfully withheld under the scheme, plus interest. The plaintiffs also demand the same relief for all their colleagues who also refrained from union membership and have been denied the health benefit as a result.

Last year, Foundation attorneys scored a victory in a similar situation for University of Puerto Rico (UPR) employees Jose Ramos and Orlando Mendez, who reported being denied permanent health insurance cards because they refused to retroactively “authorize” dues seizures UPR Workers Union officials had already made from the workers’ paychecks in violation of the First Amendment. After Foundation attorneys filed a motion for injunction against the union, Mendez and Ramos received their permanent health insurance cards.

“Diminishing employees’ access to healthcare because they are not union members is a serious violation of the workers’ right to freely abstain from union membership Janus recognized,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Ms. Carbonell and her coworkers should not be forced to join or fund a union they oppose just so they can work alongside Puerto Rico’s law enforcement officers, and we’re proud to help them defend that freedom.”

1 Jun 2022

ATU Union Faces Trial for Union Officials’ Physical Assault, Illegal Retaliation Against DC-Area Transdev Driver

Posted in News Releases

National Labor Relations Board issued complaint against union for retribution campaign based in part on driver’s previous opposition to union in workplace

Washington, DC (June 1, 2022) – Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 is facing prosecution by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after a union shop steward attacked a Transdev driver campaigning for union office. The assaulted driver, Hyattsville-based Thomas McLamb, is receiving free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.

McLamb filed charges with the NLRB in November 2021 and January 2022 against both ATU and Transdev for their roles in the retaliatory behavior, which also included his union-instigated termination. McLamb states that his previous opposition to the union in the workplace circa 2015 made him a target of union officials and adherents.

The NLRB issued a Complaint and Notice of Hearing on May 11, affirming that the union’s actions as described by McLamb constituted violations of federal law. A trial before an NLRB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is now scheduled to take place beginning on June 21 in Washington, DC.

Union Steward Assaulted Driver After Union President Advised Followers to “Slap” Dissidents

In a statement filed in November 2021, McLamb said that the ATU Local 689 president, Raymond Jackson, had told other union officers to “slap” employees who were opposing his agenda. McLamb also reported that he had been physically assaulted by a shop steward. Both incidents occurred while McLamb was campaigning against the incumbent officers to serve on Local 689’s board.

The NLRB’s notice announcing a hearing in the case echoes McLamb’s charge, stating that “[o]n November 11, 2021…[union steward] Tiyaka Boone, at the Employer’s Hubbard Road facility, in the presence of employees, physically assaulted the Charging Party.”

McLamb reported in another federal charge that, shortly after this incident, ATU official Alma Williams demanded that Transdev management fire him. The NLRB’s notice of hearing affirms this accusation: “On November 11, 2021, Respondent, by Alma Williams, at the Employer’s Hubbard Road facility, requested that the Employer discharge the Charging Party.” On November 16, Transdev gave McLamb a letter stating that he had been placed on “Administrative Leave without pay” pending the outcome of an investigation.

Transdev later settled the charges against it by reinstating McLamb and paying him back wages for the period of his suspension.

NLRB Will Now Prosecute Union, but Driver May Still Be Forced to Fund Union Officials

McLamb’s opposition to the ATU union, which included attempts to gather support from his colleagues to remove it, is activity protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which guarantees workers’ right to “refrain from any or all of” union activities. McLamb argued in his charges that ATU and Transdev officials waged the November 2021 retaliation campaign against him because of his past engagement in such NLRA-protected “dissident” activities, and in that way infringed on his rights under the NLRA.

“No American employee should have to go to work thinking that they could be fired, mugged, or slandered merely for exercising their right to oppose union officials. The NLRB’s issuance of a complaint against the ATU in Mr. McLamb’s case is a small but significant step toward justice,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “However, due to Maryland’s lack of Right to Work protections for its private sector employees, Mr. McLamb is still required to sacrifice part of every paycheck to the same union hierarchy that is now facing prosecution for instigating violence against him.”

“Although we’re happy that the scales are finally tipping in Mr. McLamb’s favor, it’s unfortunately the reality in the 23 non-Right to Work states in the country that workers are forced to pay fees to union hierarchies that act against their interests, sometimes even violently so,” added Mix.

30 May 2022
29 May 2022

After 18 Months, Mountaire Farms Workers Finally Oust Union

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

Overwhelming vote against UFCW follows NLRB shredding of first ballots

Mountaire Farms Workers

Employees at Mountaire Farms in Delaware fought “contract bar” delays from tyrannical UFCW union officials for almost two years. Finally, they’ve overwhelmingly voted out the union.

SELBYVILLE, DE – Almost two years after their initial attempt, Mountaire Farms poultry employees in Delaware have decisively voted to remove United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union officials from their workplace. The drawn-out ordeal demonstrates how the “contract bar,” a controversial National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) policy, unjustly traps workers in union ranks they oppose.

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

NLRB Chucks Workers’ Votes Citing ‘Contract Bar’

Mountaire Farms workers voted in an NLRB-supervised decertification election in June 2020, but UFCW lawyers appealed the case to the full Labor Board in Washington, D.C., and were able to get the ballots impounded. After a divided NLRB ruled for the union bosses in April 2021, hundreds of cast ballots were destroyed without being counted.

The June 2020 vote was requested by Mountaire employee Oscar Cruz Sosa, who received free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys. Cruz Sosa had the support of hundreds of his coworkers when he submitted his petition to the NLRB requesting a vote.

Initially, an NLRB regional official rejected union arguments that the decertification effort was blocked due to the “contract bar,” and the election was held. However, UFCW union lawyers appealed that decision to the full Board, which impounded the ballots while the appeal was considered.

Cruz Sosa’s Foundation attorneys urged the Board to reject the UFCW’s attempt to impose the “contract bar.” More importantly, they urged the Board to eliminate the bar completely because it is not found in the text of the NLRA, and serves only to protect unpopular union bosses from worker accountability. As the brief filed by Foundation staff attorneys pointed out, the only “bar” in the text of the NLRA states that workers must wait one year after an election before holding another vote, making the threeyear “contract bar” particularly egregious.

Nevertheless, in an April 2021 ruling, a divided Board sided with union lawyers, upheld the “contract bar,” and threw out the ballots cast by workers at the 800-employee facility. As a result, the employees were forced to wait almost another year, all the while subjected to forced union dues, for the “contract bar” to expire so they could restart the process for a decertification election.

Finally, without the barrier of the NLRB’s “contract bar” policy the workers submitted another petition to hold a vote to remove the UFCW in October 2021.

Landslide Vote Against Union Highlights Injustice of Anti-Worker ‘Contract Bar’ Policy

In the subsequent vote that concluded in December 2021, the workers overwhelmingly rejected the union with 356 of 436 votes counted for removing the union. The workers are finally free of unwanted union “representation,” nearly two full years after they started their effort to remove the union, which was highly unpopular among rank-and-file Mountaire Farms employees.

“The overwhelming final vote tally emphasizes the injustice of the decision to continue the Board-invented ‘contract bar,’ which resulted in the destruction of hundreds of ballots. From the outset it was clear how little support UFCW officials really had,” observed National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse. “This case is yet another example of how the NLRB has twisted the law to protect union boss power at the expense of the statutory rights of rank-and-file employees.”

“We’re under no illusions that the Biden NLRB, stacked with former union officials, will end this longstanding impediment to workers’ right to free themselves of an unwanted union. But this saga demonstrates why the injustice that is the non-statutory ‘contract bar’ must be ended by a future Board,” LaJeunesse added.

27 May 2022

District Court Orders Connecticut State Police to Turn Over Evidence in Former Sergeant’s Retaliation Suit

Posted in News Releases

Veteran officer was transferred out of prestigious position for asserting his workplace rights, choosing not to be a union member

Hartford, CT (May 27, 2022) – A federal judge has just ordered Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner James Rovella to turn over evidence in a federal retaliation lawsuit filed in 2016 by Joseph Mercer, a former Connecticut State Trooper.

Mercer, who is represented for free by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, charged Connecticut State Police Union (CSPU) and state officials with knocking him out of a prestigious command position because he exercised his First Amendment rights to refrain from union membership and oppose the union’s political activity.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut ordered Rovella to turn over certain documents relevant to Mercer’s claims. According to the orders, these documents could be relevant to determining whether union and state police officials treated Mercer unfairly because he dissociated from CSPU.

Union Officials Fought to Remove Union Opponent from Prestigious Position He Was Qualified For

Mercer, a former state trooper, says he was transferred from his command position with the Emergency Services Unit because he resigned from the union and refrained from supporting its political agenda.

In May 2015, Sergeant Mercer was appointed Operations Sergeant of the Emergency Services Unit, a prestigious command position that entails significant responsibility for Emergency Services training and field operations. Although Sergeant Mercer had seventeen years of experience, in June 2015, CSPU President Andrew Matthews filed a grievance over Sergeant Mercer’s appointment.

Matthews’ grievance claimed that there had been no “selection process” to fill the position, despite the fact that none of Sergeant Mercer’s union-member predecessors had undergone any particular kind of selection process before they got the job.

Mathews also filed a second grievance, alleging Mercer had mismanaged a shooting incident involving an armed suspect barricaded in a hotel. State police officials never expressed dissatisfaction with how Mercer handled the situation.

In October 2015, the then-Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services transferred Mercer out of his Operations Sergeant position to an administrative post. That new position gave Mercer substantially fewer opportunities to work in the field or accrue overtime pay. Prior to this demotion, Mercer had received no warnings, reprimands, or other disciplinary actions regarding the incident referenced in Matthews’ grievance.

Mercer’s lawsuit seeks his reinstatement as Operations Sergeant in the Emergency Services Division and compensatory damages for the decrease in his overtime pay opportunities. In August 2018, the District Court denied motions to dismiss the case filed by CSPU and state officials, allowing the case to proceed.

Evidence Revealing Unfair Treatment of State Trooper Must Be Handed Over

The court orders compelling discovery state that records about Emergency Services Unit team members in similar “deadly force” situations to Mercer’s “are relevant for the purpose of determining a central issue in the case: whether Plaintiff was treated differently by his employer than others in similar situations.” The orders also say that information concerning whether or not a “selection process” was used to fill the Operations Sergeant position clearly “pertain to the issue of whether Plaintiff was treated differently with respect to his appointment as Operations Supervisor.”

“By compelling discovery in this case, the District Court brings Sergeant Mercer one step closer to defeating openly vindictive and unconstitutional behavior by CSPU union officials and their allies in state government. They wreaked havoc on Mercer’s career simply because he disagreed with the union’s politics,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “We’ve been proud to fight alongside Sergeant Mercer the past few years and will continue to do so until his rights and career are restored.”

26 May 2022

Casino Worker Challenges Order Installing Unwanted Union via ‘Card Check’

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

Ninth circuit panel signals willingness to end precedent allowing for imposition of union

Red Rock Casino workers vote against unionization, but nearly 2 years later judge ordered employer to bargain with union officials

NLRB officials stacked the deck against rank-and-file Red Rock Casino employees by imposing an unpopular union on them despite worker objections.

LAS VEGAS, NV – A large majority of the workers at Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada voted “no” to unionization, but a federal district court judge ordered their employer to bargain with union officials anyway. Casino officials appealed, and Red Rock employee Raynell Teske supported their efforts to overturn the judge’s coercive order that overrides the choice workers made at the ballot box.

With free Foundation legal aid, Teske filed a brief arguing that the district judge had no reason to impose a union onto workers who had already soundly voted to reject it. A Ninth Circuit panel denied the initial appeal, but issued an unusual concurring opinion in which all three judges said they disagreed with that outcome, but were bound by Ninth Circuit precedent to uphold the district judge’s order.

Binding precedent can only be overturned through an en banc hearing before a larger Ninth Circuit panel. Red Rock lawyers filed for an en banc rehearing of their appeal. The court then ordered National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) lawyers defending the order to respond, another signal the judges may be willing to overturn this ridiculous precedent and rule in the workers’ favor. Teske filed a second amicus brief, urging the court to hear the case en banc.

Judge Overrides Workers’ Vote Against Union ‘Representation’

The situation at Red Rock began in December 2019, when the NLRB held a secret-ballot election on whether to unionize the Casino’s workers. Employees rejected union officials’ effort to become their monopoly bargaining “representatives” in an NLRB-supervised vote by a nearly 100-vote margin. Despite that outcome, NLRB Region 28 Director Cornele Overstreet sought a federal court injunction imposing the union over the workers’ objections.

On July 20, 2021, District Judge Gloria Navarro agreed with the NLRB Director’s request, and ordered Red Rock to bargain with union officials despite the employees’ vote against unionization. The judge said the order was justified because union officials claimed that, before the vote, a majority of workers had signed union authorization cards.

Teske’s amicus briefs argue those “Card Check” signatures don’t prove that union officials ever had majority support. She contends the level of union support was tested fairly by the secret-ballot election, in which workers voted 627-534 against unionization.

Her briefs point out that the NLRB and federal courts have long recognized that secret ballots are a more reliable way of gauging worker support for a union, because workers are often pressured, harassed, or misled by union organizers into signing cards.

Union officials know that Card Check signatures do not indicate solid worker support. The AFL-CIO admitted in its internal organizing handbook that it needed at least 75% Card Check support before having even a 50-50 chance of winning a secret-ballot election. Union bosses prefer Card Check unionization because they can more easily take control of workplaces where they lack popular support, and partisan NLRB appointees now are working to grant their wish.

Partisan NLRB Pushes Unreliable ‘Card Check’

Past legislative attempts to enact Card Check unionization, including the so-called “PRO Act,” pending in the U.S. Senate right now, faced bipartisan opposition. However, NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, a former high-ranking union lawyer, believes she can implement Card Check without congressional approval. Abruzzo has expressed interest in resurrecting a decades-old NLRB doctrine that allows unions to sue employers to try to force them to automatically bargain whenever the union possesses a pile of untested union cards.

“There is no reason why district court judges or NLRB bureaucrats should be able to override workers’ choice at the ballot box,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens. “A favorable ruling for Raynell Teske and her colleagues could provide legal ammunition for future workers if the NLRB tries to force them to accept union officials for whom they never even had a chance to vote.”

24 May 2022

Boeing Technician Files Federal Lawsuit Against Machinists Union Over Illegal Forced Dues Demands

Posted in News Releases

Instead of reducing nonmember worker’s payments in accordance with Supreme Court precedent, union bosses charged him arbitrary higher amount

Seattle, WA (May 24, 2022) – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Seattle Boeing technician Don Zueger is suing International Association of Machinists (IAM) union officials in federal court for violating his right to refrain from paying for unwanted union activities.

Zueger, who is not a member of the IAM union, is defending his right under the Foundation-won 1988 CWA v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision, in which the Court ruled that union officials cannot charge full union dues to objecting private sector workers who have abstained from formal union membership. Under Beck, union officials can only charge union nonmembers “fees” which exclude expenses for things like union political activities.

Because Washington State lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector workers, nonmembers like Zueger can be forced to pay the reduced amount under Beck as a condition of keeping their jobs. In Right to Work states, in contrast, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary.

IAM Officials Continue to Overcharge Worker in Violation of His Rights

According to Zueger’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, he submitted a request to IAM union officials in February resigning his union membership and asking for his dues payments to be reduced under Beck.

Zueger’s lawsuit reports that IAM officials’ response to his Beck request claimed that, under IAM’s nationwide policy, the portion of union dues he is required to pay is based on averages of selected audits that in each case include nine other local and district IAM affiliates. This means the forced union fee amount is not calculated using the actual amounts determined in the audits of the local and district IAM affiliates that Zueger is required to fund as a condition of employment. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in Zueger’s dues reduction being significantly less than it would have been had union officials only used the audits for the district and local affiliates Zueger is forced to fund.

According to his lawsuit, union officials are still demanding from Zueger dues in excess of the amount Beck permits.  The lawsuit seeks to force IAM union bosses to return all money demanded in violation of Beck and to properly reduce his future union payments in accordance with Beck.

Workers Should Be Wary of Illegal Union Dues Schemes as Union Political Activity Increases

Zueger’s lawsuit comes after union bosses spent near-record sums on politics during the 2020 election cycle. A report by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) released in 2021 revealed that union officials’ own Department of Labor filings show about $2 billion in political spending during the 2020 cycle, primarily from dues-stocked union general treasuries. Moreover, other estimates strongly suggest that actual union spending on political and lobbying activities actually topped $12 billion in 2019-2020.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out when union officials are trying to strong-arm employees into subsidizing union activities, including politics, against their will. IAM officials’ nonmember dues scheme doesn’t pass the smell test,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While we’re proud to help Mr. Zueger defend his Beck rights, ultimately no American worker should be forced to pay fees determined by the whims of union officials simply in order to keep their jobs.”

“This case shows why Right to Work laws are needed nationwide to ensure that the decision to join or financially support a union is strictly a matter of each individual worker’s own conscience. Workers should be especially aware of attempts by union officials to force them to fund union activities as union political activity heats up in advance of this year’s elections,” Mix added.