Federal Judge Rejects AFL-CIO Lawsuit to Overturn Rule Eliminating “Strawman” Process for Workers Seeking to Remove Airline or Railroad Unions
Burdensome “strawman” process made workers create fake union in order to have National Mediation Board schedule vote to remove incumbent union
Washington, DC (April 2, 2021) – The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia this week issued a decision rejecting a lawsuit by AFL-CIO union lawyers to overturn a National Mediation Board (NMB) rule change, which allows workers in the airline and railroad industries to petition directly for elections to remove unwanted union “representation.” The rule, which was finalized by the NMB in 2019, replaced a confusing and needlessly complex NMB process in which workers had to create and solicit support for a fake “straw man” union just to vote out the incumbent union officials.
In March 2020, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys filed a legal brief on behalf of Allegiant Airlines flight attendant Steven Stoecker defending the rule change from the AFL-CIO’s lawsuit. The brief was also filed for the Foundation itself, which has provided free legal representation to numerous workers under the jurisdiction of the Railway Labor Act (RLA), which the NMB is charged with enforcing.
Stoecker, whose employment is governed by the RLA, attempted from 2014 to 2016 to remove the Transport Workers Union (TWU) from its monopoly bargaining status in his workplace, but those attempts ultimately failed when he lost his “straw man” election.
“The National Mediation Board’s Final Rule simplifies the union selection or rejection process under the Railway Labor Act and erases nonstatutory barriers that hinder employees’ efforts to freely choose or reject a representative,” read Stoecker’s brief. “In response, the Plaintiffs, a group of labor unions that benefit from the complexities of the straw man decertification process, challenge the Final Rule and the Board’s statutory authority to establish it.”
Before the NMB issued the final rule in 2019, workers like Stoecker had to sign authorization cards designating an employee to be the “strawman” even though that employee had no intention of representing the unit. In the election that followed, the ballot options included the name of the union workers wished to decertify, the name of the straw man applicant, e.g., “John Smith,” the option for a write-in candidate and, confusingly, the option for “no union.”
Under the old guidelines, workers who voted for either the straw man or “no union” in hopes to oust union officials would unknowingly be splitting the vote opposed to unionization, as votes counted for these options were not tallied together but separately. The NMB’s new rule allows workers to vote out union representatives directly, without the cumbersome procedural hurdles.
The District Court’s ruling rejects a union argument that the RLA forbids workers from directly petitioning for a decertification vote, pointing out that the RLA “does not require employees or their representative to pretend to seek certification in order to vindicate their statutorily protected right of complete independence in the workplace,” and also that the Supreme Court “held long ago that workers covered by the Act have ‘the right to determine…whether they shall have’” a union in the workplace at all.
“The District Court was correct in striking down this union boss lawsuit, which blatantly sought to reimpose a convoluted process by which union chiefs could remain in power in a workplace even when there was clear evidence a majority of workers wanted them gone,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “However, more needs to be done to ensure the freedom of America’s railroad and airline workers.”
“For example, currently the RLA prevents workers from being protected by state Right to Work laws, which ensure union financial support is strictly voluntary,” added Mix. “That’s why, ultimately, a National Right to Work law is needed to protect railway and airline employees from being forced to pay a union boss or else be fired.”
NLRB Regional Director has certified that Teamsters bosses lost decertification election
Santa Maria, CA (April 1, 2021) – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, delivery drivers at Allied Central Coast Distributing in Santa Maria, California, have successfully freed themselves from unwanted monopoly “representation” by union officials of Teamsters Local 986.
Petitioner Julian Marroquin submitted a decertification petition with the signatures of many of his coworkers to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requesting an NLRB-supervised secret ballot election so the drivers could vote out the unpopular Teamsters union. Due to COVID-19, the vote was conducted by mail. On March 23, 2021, the NLRB reported that Marroquin’s unit had voted successfully to decertify the Teamsters union as their monopoly bargaining representative.
With no union challenges to the result, the Board certified the results of the election on March 31. Thus, the drivers are no longer subject to monopoly union representation. Because California lacks a Right to Work law to ensure union membership and financial support is strictly voluntary, the result protects the drivers from being forced by union officials to pay dues or fees or lose their jobs.
Marroquin was able to secure a decertification vote just months after he originally filed his petition in December 2020. It often takes far longer for workers to remove an unwanted union. Union officials frequently attempt to delay or block decertification votes by filing “blocking charges.” These are unfair labor practice charges against the employer that can be used to hold up an election, even when they have nothing to do with the employees’ dissatisfaction with the union.
Union officials’ ability to use this tactic to block or delay votes has been limited by recent NLRB rulemaking, finalized in 2020. Under the NLRB’s new policy, which draws on comments filed by the National Right to Work Foundation, union charges cannot indefinitely stall employee votes, and in most instances votes occur without delay.
“Blocking charge reforms have greatly reduced union bosses’ ability to force workers into years long legal battles just to be free themselves form Big Labor coercion,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “Workers who object to union dues payments shouldn’t need to fight an uphill battle to decertify a union just to cut off union financial support. That’s why every worker in America needs Right to Work protections that make union dues payments strictly voluntary.”
Educators submitted amicus brief in similar case before SCOTUS challenging “escape period” which curtails right to refrain from dues
Chicago, IL (March 25, 2021) – Two Chicago Public Schools (CPS) educators are appealing to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals their class-action civil rights lawsuit charging the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) with illegal dues seizures.
The suit challenges a union policy that blocks teachers from exercising their First Amendment right to stop payments to the union outside of the month of August.
The lawsuit seeks refunds of all dues seized from dissenting teachers by the Chicago Board of Education under the policy. The Board enforces the arrangement at the behest of the CTU union and is also named as a defendant.
The educators, Jones College Prep Tech Coordinator Joanne Troesch and Newberry Math and Science Academy second-grade teacher Ifeoma Nkemdi, are receiving free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys. The lawsuit contends that the dues scheme perpetrated by CTU officials violates the First Amendment protections laid out in the Foundation-won 2018 Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision.
The appeal comes shortly after Troesch, Nkemdi, and other public employees submitted an amicus brief in Belgau v. Inslee, which is currently pending on a petition for certiorari at the U.S. Supreme Court. That class-action suit involves a group of Washington State employees, led by Melissa Belgau, who are fighting similar policies imposed by Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) union officials and the State of Washington.
In Janus, which was argued by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney William Messenger, the High Court struck down mandatory union fees as a violation of the First Amendment rights of government employees. The Court ruled that taking any dues without a government worker’s affirmative consent violates the First Amendment, and further made it clear that these rights cannot be restricted absent a clear and knowing waiver. Messenger is on Troesch and Nkemdi’s legal team.
Troesch and Nkemdi’s lawsuit explains that they “did not know they had a constitutional right not to financially support” the union hierarchy until the fall of 2019. The pair independently discovered their First Amendment Janus rights while they were researching how to exercise their right to continue working during a strike that CTU bosses ordered in October 2019, the lawsuit notes. 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.” CTU bosses relied on the fact that Troesch and Nkemdi had not submitted their letters within a union boss-created “escape period,” which limits when teachers can exercise their First Amendment right to end dues deductions.
Troesch and Nkemdi contend that CTU officials’ attempt to curb employees’ right to stop dues deductions with an “escape period” and the Board’s continued dues seizures both violate the First Amendment. Their lawsuit seeks to make the CTU union and the Board of Education stop enforcing the “escape period,” and notify all bargaining unit employees that they can end the deduction of union dues at any time and “retroactively exercise that right.”
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed Troesch and Nkemdi’s lawsuit on February 25, 2021. The court ruled that CTU officials didn’t violate Janus by forbidding the two educators from exercising their First Amendment right to cut off union dues except for one month a year. This prompted Foundation attorneys to appeal the case to the Seventh Circuit for the educators.
Foundation staff attorneys in December 2020 filed a similar lawsuit for University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System employee Johnathan Shepard, who is challenging an “escape period” foisted on him and his coworkers by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73 bosses. Across the country, Foundation staff attorneys represent public servants in at least 14 cases where union officials have tried to confine their First Amendment Janus rights to an “escape period.”
“Each day that the courts refuse to uphold the clear logic of Janus is another day that union bosses are allowed to hold onto the hard-earned money of dissenting public servants in clear violation of their First Amendment rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The Foundation is proud to stand with Ms. Troesch and Ms. Nkemdi, and will continue to defend all educators who simply want to serve their students and community without being forced to subsidize union activities.”
Delaware Mountaire Farms Worker Leading Effort to Oust Unpopular Union Bosses Objects to Deficient Settlement Regarding Illegal Dues
Settlement denies relief to most employees, another example of decreased scrutiny on union bosses’ violations since Biden installed NLRB Acting GC Peter Ohr
Washington, DC (March 24, 2021) – Selbyville, DE-based Mountaire Farms employee Oscar Cruz Sosa has objected to a settlement proposed by National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 5 officials in his case charging United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27 union bosses with imposing an illegal dues provision on him and his coworkers.
With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, Cruz Sosa’s objections argue that the settlement proffered by NLRB Region 5 “provides inadequate remedies to the unit employees,” on all of whom UFCW officials enforced a contract clause which unlawfully requires all workers to pay dues immediately upon hiring or be fired.
Federal law stipulates that new hires be given 30 days before any mandatory dues requirements are imposed on them. Because Delaware lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector employees, Cruz Sosa and his colleagues can be required to pay some reduced union fees as a condition of keeping their jobs after the 30-day period.
NLRB Region 5 proposed the settlement while NLRB Acting General Counsel Peter Ohr has directly or indirectly sought to curtail several other Foundation cases for independent-minded workers seeking to free themselves from illegal forced dues or other coercive union boss practices. Many of Ohr’s actions attempt to reverse work that had been done by his predecessor, Senate-confirmed General Counsel Peter Robb, to defend workers’ individual rights.
Just last week, Foundation attorneys opposed Ohr’s move to return West Virginia Kroger employee Shelby Krocker’s case, which is fully briefed before the NLRB in D.C., to NLRB Region 6 in Pittsburgh, where an insufficient settlement would be foisted on her and her coworkers. Krocker is challenging dues checkoff cards distributed by UFCW bosses which falsely claim that they “MUST BE SIGNED,” violating federal law’s requirement that authorizations of direct dues deductions from workers’ paychecks must be strictly voluntary. Robb had sustained Krocker’s charges after NLRB Region 6 initially dismissed them.
In the Mountaire Farms situation, Ohr in February withdrew a Robb-filed brief defending Cruz Sosa and his coworkers’ right to vote UFCW Local 27 bosses out of their workplace. UFCW lawyers claim that a non-statutory NLRB policy called the “contract bar” should have blocked Cruz Sosa’s otherwise valid petition signed by his colleagues requesting a “decertification election.” The “contract bar” entrenches unions for up to three years after management and union officials broker a contract.
Although NLRB Region 5 ruled that the vote should proceed because of the contract’s invalid forced dues clause, UFCW lawyers demanded review by the full NLRB, and now seek to have the NLRB destroy the ballots workers have already cast in the election. The NLRB decided to review the case, but announced that the entire “contract bar” policy would be brought under scrutiny. This case is still pending before the full NLRB.
Cruz Sosa’s current filing contends that NLRB Region 5’s proposed settlement on the issue of the illegal dues clause “seeks to ferret out for relief what is likely to be a minuscule handful of employees” instead of giving all employees under UFCW Local 27’s control at Mountaire “the right to claim their dues money back to the start of” the contract and ensuring the clause is never enforced again. This is requested because, based on NLRB Region 5’s own ruling, the forced dues clause is “facially invalid” and “all employees have been adversely impacted” by it.
Cruz Sosa’s attorneys also argue that the settlement, which would be conditional on the NLRB’s finding in the pending decertification case that the UFCW’s forced dues clause is invalid, forecloses the possibility of the relief requested for all employees even if the Board affirms the Region’s ruling that the clause is invalid. “This one-way ratchet is patently unfair to the 800 employees in this unit and completely one-sided,” Foundation attorneys assert.
This dispute highlights the NLRB General Counsel’s Office and Regional Directors’ shift to reinforcing the coercive privileges of union bosses since President Biden installed Peter Ohr as NLRB Acting General Counsel. Ohr was put in after Biden took the unprecedented and legally dubious step of firing Robb, Ohr’s predecessor, nearly eleven months before the end of his Senate-confirmed term.
“This is an obvious attempt by so-called ‘Acting’ NLRB General Counsel Peter Ohr to ensure President Biden’s union boss cronies don’t have to face the music when they violate workers’ individual rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Cruz Sosa and his coworkers were all harmed by this plainly unlawful dues clause, and a proper remedy must include relief for all of them.”
“NLRB Region 5’s hasty proposed settlement – deliberately crafted before the full NLRB has ruled on UFCW bosses’ illegal conduct in Cruz Sosa’s workplace, must be rejected,” Mix added.
Unpopular Teamsters union officials forced unnecessary hearing to delay decertification election before losing by 8-1 margin
Cinnaminson, NJ (March 23, 2021) – Workers at a branch of XPO Logistics in Cinnaminson, New Jersey who were subject to the monopoly union control of Teamsters Local 107 voted overwhelmingly to throw the union out of their workplace by a 16-2 vote.
Miguel Valle and his coworkers petitioned the National Labor relations Board on December 28th, 2020 for a vote to decertify and remove the Teamsters union as the bargaining agent at XPO. The XPO employees received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which helped to guide them through the roadblocks union officials tried to create to maintain their control over the workplace.
When decertification is looming, union lawyers often employ a variety of stalling tactics to delay elections. Recent NLRB rulemaking limited the use of “blocking charges,” which are often spurious unfair labor practice charges filed by union lawyers designed to hold up decertification elections while the charges are being resolved. The rule changes closely mirror suggestions made by the Foundation in comments during rulemaking.
Thanks to the “blocking charge” reforms, Teamsters bosses couldn’t create the kind of multi-year delay often seen under the old rules, but union lawyers still found ways to delay the vote Valle and his XPO coworkers had requested, by demanding that the vote would be held in person at the Teamsters union hall. Previously the NLRB’s Regional Office in Philadelphia had decided that because of Board voting parameters for COVID-19, the election should be conducted by mail.
Nevertheless, Teamsters lawyers demanded a hearing on the method of voting. Foundation attorneys argued that the union lawyers’ requests were merely an effort to delay the vote. As expected, the NLRB’s Regional Director reaffirmed that the election would be conducted by mail. On February 18th, 2021, ballots were sent to the employees in Valle’s bargaining unit, nearly two months after he had filed his petition.
When the votes were finally tallied, the workers had voted 16-2 in favor of removing the union from their workplace. With no union challenges to the result, Valle’s coworkers are no longer subject to monopoly representation by Teamsters officials.
“Union bosses take every chance they get to maintain control over workers, even when they are overwhelmingly opposed by those they claim to represent,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “Thanks to Big Labor’s government-granted monopoly bargaining powers, people like Miguel Valle and his coworkers have to turn to the Foundation for free legal assistance just to exercise their right to hold a vote to remove a union they overwhelmingly oppose.”
UPS Worker Files Unfair Labor Practice Charge after Teamsters Official Repeatedly Threatens: Join Union and Pay Dues or Be Fired
Teamsters representative falsely told warehouse worker he could be fired if he did not become a union member and pay full dues
Queens, NY (March 22, 2021) – Kamil Fraczek works in a New York City UPS warehouse whose employees are subject to monopoly representation by Teamsters Local 804. On March 15, 2021, Fraczek filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after a Teamsters union official made repeated threats to his job and deceived him about his legal rights. The charge was filed with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
When Fraczek began working at the warehouse full time, a Teamsters representative told him he must become a union member and sign documents authorizing dues deductions from his paycheck. Fraczek asked about his options, and the union representative told him that if he did not sign the forms, Teamsters officials would ask UPS to fire him.
Because New York is a forced-unionism state that doesn’t protect workers with a Right to Work law, Fraczek can be required to pay some union fees as a condition of his job. However, under the Supreme Court’s 1988 CWA v. Beck decision, won by attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, no private-sector worker can be compelled to financially support certain union activities unrelated to bargaining activities, like political lobbying. Further, under longstanding federal law, workers cannot be required to become formal union members.
Later, Fraczek learned of his rights, and returned to the Teamsters official asking to become a non-member and a Beck objector. He provided a letter to the representative stating his intention to pay only reduced fees and decline union membership.
As the unfair labor practice charge states, the Teamsters official doubled down on his prior misrepresentations, insisting that Fraczek pay full dues and sign membership documents. The Teamsters official again threatened to have Fraczek fired if he did not comply with these demands. The official falsely claimed that only supervisors can opt out of the union, and that the federal laws protecting workers from funding union political activities only apply in Right to Work states, not in forced-unionism states like New York.
In response, Fraczek filed his NLRB charge asserting his right to pay reduced fees under Beck and not to join the union. According to the charge, “Local 804’s agent has repeatedly tried to mislead Mr. Fraczek about his rights and has invoked the Union’s power to get him fired, all in an effort to coerce Mr. Fraczek into signing the membership and dues deduction authorization form…”
“Union officials are perfectly willing to tell outright lies to independent-minded workers who object to union membership,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “Union bosses blatantly ignore the law just to protect their forced-dues revenue stream, and it is workers like Mr. Fraczek who pay the price.
No worker should be forced to pay dues to a union just to keep their job, and no worker should have to file federal charges just to get union officials to recognize their rights.”
Public Employees File Brief Asking Supreme Court to Take Case Challenging Union Limits on Stopping Union Dues
Brief argues union boss schemes limiting dues revocations to short periods violate the High Court’s landmark Janus v. AFSCME 2018 decision
Washington, DC (March 19, 2021) – Five public employees forced to pay union fees by dues deduction schemes have just submitted an amici curie brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Belgau v. Inslee. The amici are Chicago public school employees Ifeoma Nkemdi and Joanne Troesch, University of California Santa Barbara employee Cara O’Callaghan, Maumee City (Ohio) School District employee Chelsea Kolacki, and Springfield (Ohio) Local School District employee Michelle Cymbor, all of whom have been subjected to First Amendment violations similar to those at issue in Belgau.
The brief was submitted for the five public employees by staff attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Liberty Justice Center, and Buckeye Institute.
Belgau is a class-action case in which a group of Washington State employees are challenging a union boss-created arrangement that limits to a 10-day per year “escape period” employees’ ability to exercise their First Amendment right to refrain from subsidizing a union. The right of public sector employees to refrain from paying union dues was guaranteed to them by the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision.
Mark Janus, a former Illinois child support specialist and plaintiff in the landmark 2018 case, was represented at the Supreme Court by attorneys from both the Foundation and Liberty Justice Center, with Foundation attorney Bill Messenger presenting oral argument.
In Janus, the Supreme Court ruled that compelling public workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment violates their First Amendment rights. The Court also held that union dues or fees can only be taken from public workers’ paychecks if they clearly and affirmatively waive their right not to pay, with Justice Samuel Alito writing in the Court’s decision that “such a waiver cannot be presumed.”
In Belgau, lead plaintiff Melissa Belgau and six other Washington State employees sued Washington Governor Jay Inslee and the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) union for enforcing an unconstitutional “escape period” scheme. The plaintiffs all resigned their memberships and asked to cut off dues just a couple months after Janus was decided, but dues continued to be seized from their paychecks under the restrictive policy.
Their lawsuit demands that the state and union officials cease blocking workers from exercising their First Amendment right not to financially support the union, and that the union refund all dues seized from any worker who sought to end dues deductions after the Janus decision, but was denied under the policy. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled against the workers in September.
The five employees’ amici brief encourages the Supreme Court to hear Belgau because the Ninth Circuit’s ruling flouted the High Court’s Janus decision by finding that it is “constitutional for a state and a union” to keep seizing “payments for union speech from objecting, nonmember employees” until an arbitrary 10-day period. The brief contends that the Constitution does not allow “states and public-sector unions” to “prohibit employees from exercising their First Amendment right to refrain from subsidizing union speech for 355-56 days of every year.”
Staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Foundation and Liberty Justice Center are currently litigating more than thirty Janus-related cases, including seven jointly. Buckeye Institute attorneys are litigating two such cases, including one challenging monopoly union representation that is currently pending at the Supreme Court.
“It is outrageous to claim that any government or public sector union boss policy can limit a worker’s constitutional rights to just ten days each year,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “The Supreme Court needs to take up this issue to affirm that its Janus ruling protects public employees every day of the year.”
West Virginia Kroger Employee Challenges Top Labor Board Lawyer’s Attempt to Scuttle Case Charging UFCW Bosses with Illegal Dues Cards
Worker’s attorneys argue Biden-installed Peter Ohr has no authority to force inadequate settlement in blatant attempt to shield union from NLRB ruling
Washington, DC (March 17, 2021) – West Virginia-based Kroger employee Shelby Krocker has filed an opposition to National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Acting General Counsel Peter Ohr’s attempt to shut down her case, which charges the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 union with maintaining illegal dues checkoffs and taking dues money pursuant to those checkoffs.
The opposition was filed with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys. It was submitted in response to Ohr’s joint motion with the union to remand the case to NLRB Region 6 in Pittsburgh to impose a settlement designed to shield the union from being forced to provide a full remedy.
Foundation attorneys argue that Ohr’s maneuver is forbidden by NLRB rules and that Ohr is attempting to undermine the Board’s authority. They also argue that Ohr lacks authority because President Biden installed Ohr after firing his predecessor, Peter Robb, without any legal basis.
Krocker initially charged the union with illegally demanding employees sign dues checkoff authorization forms for the deduction of union dues from employee paychecks. The checkoff form union officials used blatantly misleads workers about their rights by prominently stating it “MUST BE SIGNED” in large print.
Krocker’s charge also maintains that union officials unlawfully rebuffed her request to cut off union dues. Because West Virginia has Right to Work protections for its workers, Krocker can’t be legally forced to fund union boss activities as a condition of keeping her job.
NLRB Region 6 initially dismissed Krocker’s charge, but Foundation attorneys successfully appealed this dismissal to former NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, who sustained the charge and ordered NLRB Region 6 to issue a complaint prosecuting UFCW Local 400 for the violations. Robb found that UFCW Local 400 officials had violated the law in even more ways than Krocker originally asserted, including failing to tell employees that they could end dues deductions at the expiration of a contract.
After an NLRB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) declined to rule that UFCW Local 400 officials violated the law with their “MUST BE SIGNED” demands and other unlawful provisions, Krocker’s Foundation staff attorneys appealed the case to the NLRB. Her appeal was supported by NLRB General Counsel Robb and has been fully briefed before the Board since September.
Krocker’s opposition contends that Ohr’s latest motion and the inadequate settlement are “bare political attempts to strip the Board of its ability to hear the important issues raised in this case,” and that “the proposed agreement does not fully remedy the unfair labor practices alleged in the Complaint and as shown by the stipulated factual record.” Foundation staff attorneys also point out that it is too late for Ohr and UFCW union officials to seek an informal settlement because the case is already before the NLRB.
More broadly, Foundation attorneys argue for Krocker that Ohr himself lacks authority to file motions in this case because President Biden ousted Peter Robb when he still had several months left on his term as NLRB General Counsel. Since the establishment of the office of NLRB General Counsel in 1947, no sitting General Counsel has ever been terminated by a president before the end of their Senate-confirmed four-year term, even when the White House changed hands. For example, Obama’s pick for General Counsel, former union lawyer Richard Griffin, remained the General Counsel for most of Trump’s first year (until his term expired on 10/31/17).
Allowing Ohr to exercise authority in this case, Foundation attorneys argue, “will do irreparable damage to the Board’s status as an independent quasi-judicial agency responsible for the neutral and even-handed resolution of unfair labor practice and representation cases.”
“Almost every day, so-called ‘Acting’ NLRB General Counsel Peter Ohr demonstrates he has no problem with turning the NLRB into the Biden Administration’s tool for stifling the rights of independent-minded workers who dare to stand up to Biden’s union boss allies,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Ms. Krocker’s case is one of a growing number in which Foundation-backed workers whose rights were violated by union bosses are challenging Ohr’s authority.”
National Right to Work Foundation Issues Special Legal Notice for Massachusetts Nurses Impacted by union Boss Ordered Strike
Saint Vincent Nurses have right to rebuff Union officials’ demands that workers abandon their patients amidst pandemic
Worcester, MA (March 16, 2021) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have issued a special legal notice to the approximately 800 nurses at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, affected by a strike ordered by Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) union officials that began on March 8.
The legal notice informs rank-and-file nurses of the rights MNA 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 legal right to rebuff union officials’ strike demands, but it is important for them to be fully informed before they do so.”
The full notice is available at www.nrtw.org/saint-vincent-legal-notice.
The notice outlines the process that Saint Vincent nurses should follow if they want to exercise their right to return to work during the strike and avoid punishment by union bosses, complete with sample union membership resignation letters.
Further, the notice reminds the nurses of their rights 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 nurses 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 who ignored her right not to fund union lobbying. Foundation staff attorneys are also assisting Texas nurse Marissa Zamora in her National Labor Relations Board case against officials of the National Nurses Organizing Committee for concealing a “neutrality agreement” struck in secret between union bosses and the hospital company that was apparently designed to limit nurses’ ability to exercise their right to remove the union.
“Saint Vincent nurses should know they unequivocally have the right to reject union boss strike orders and continue to care for those in need,” commented National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “Nurses who question whether the ongoing union-ordered strike is really best for themselves, their families, and their patients cannot be forced by union officials to stop working.”
“Rank-and-file nurses at Saint Vincent should immediately contact the Foundation for free legal aid if MNA bosses violate their legal rights,” added Mix.
Mountaire Poultry Worker at Center of Effort to Remove Unpopular Union Files New Charge of Illegal Retaliation
Recent NLRB case reveals that UFCW officials attempted illegal surveillance by demanding decertification petitioner’s attendance record from employer
Baltimore, MD (March 10, 2021) – Selbyville, DE-based Mountaire Farms employee Oscar Cruz Sosa has hit the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27 union at his workplace with a second round of federal charges.
This charge, filed at Region 5 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Baltimore with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, maintains the union violated his rights by illegally retaliating against him and attempting illegal surveillance of his activities because he spearheaded his coworkers’ exercising their right to vote UFCW bosses out of the workplace.
Cruz Sosa’s charge comes as his election case, defending his and his coworkers’ right to oust UFCW officials, is pending before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington. Cruz Sosa submitted a petition in February 2020 signed by enough of his fellow employees to prompt a vote to decertify the union (also known as a “decertification election”), but UFCW officials sought to block the vote by claiming that a “contract bar” exists that prevents any election.
The “contract bar” is a non-statutory NLRB rule that forbids workers from voting out unpopular union bosses for up to three years after management and union officials broker a monopoly bargaining contract.
Over the union’s objections, the NLRB Regional Director in Baltimore allowed the vote Cruz Sosa and his coworkers requested to proceed because he found that the union contract contains an illegal forced dues clause, and thus the “contract bar” cannot apply. However, unwilling to lose power over 800 forced-dues payers in Cruz Sosa’s workplace, UFCW lawyers petitioned the full NLRB to re-impose the “contract bar.”
In response, Cruz Sosa’s Foundation-provided lawyers argued that, if the NLRB granted review of the union’s appeal, it should reconsider the entire contract bar policy. On July 7, 2020, the NLRB granted that request and threw the case open to nationwide briefing on whether to get rid of the contract bar because it stymies employee free choice.
Although the election finally occurred in June and July 2020, the ballots have been impounded until the NLRB issues its ruling. UFCW bosses are seeking to have the NLRB destroy all of the ballots Cruz Sosa and his coworkers have already cast in that election.
Cruz Sosa’s Foundation-provided attorneys continue to argue that the “contract bar” violates workers’ free choice rights and should be eliminated because it confines workers under the “representation” of unpopular union bosses, even when there is clear evidence workers want them gone.
Previously, Foundation staff attorneys filed a charge for Cruz Sosa challenging the union’s illegal forced dues clause and the requirement that he and others continue to pay dues under that clause. That case seeks a refund of dues collected from workers under the unlawful mandatory dues clause in the union boss-negotiated monopoly bargaining agreement. That case too is on hold pending the NLRB’s decision in the election case.
Cruz Sosa’s current charge was filed after the NLRB issued a complaint against Mountaire Farms in a separate case UFCW union officials filed. That complaint and associated documents reveal that Mountaire Farms officials have not acquiesced to union officials’ demands for “[c]opies of the daily hours of work and the time and attendance records for employee Oscar Cruz Sosa between August 1, 2019 and March 15, 2020.” Mountaire Farms has also not, according to the complaint, turned over to UFCW honchos “the daily admission log…for all access points to the Selbyville plant identifying by name” anyone who has accessed the plant since March 2020.
“From the moment Oscar Cruz Sosa filed his election petition, UFCW bosses have been attempting to disenfranchise workers. They even engaged in a campaign of surveillance against this employee, all to maintain their power. UFCW Local 27 bosses are happy to trample the rights of the very rank-and-file workers they claim to represent,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “No workers should be subjected to surveillance or retaliation just because they assist their coworkers in exercising their statutory right to remove an unwanted union.”
National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys are helping other workers who are challenging the “contract bar” before the full NLRB in Washington. In early January, Foundation staff attorneys assisted a group of Puerto Rico armored transport guards in asking the Board to overturn the contract bar, which was used to block their request for an election to remove union representation from their workplace.
More recently, Foundation staff attorneys filed a Request for Review for Virginia Transdev employees who are seeking to remove unpopular Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 2 officials from their Fairfax Connector office. In that case, an OPEIU agent triggered the contract bar by secretly signing a contract only about a week before Transdev employees submitted to the NLRB a majority-backed decertification petition.