21 Jun 2019

Another Stop & Shop Worker Hits UFCW Union with Federal Charges for Illegal Threats Related to Union Boss-Ordered Strike

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According to charge, UFCW bosses told other employees to conduct surveillance on and impede work of charging employee who worked during strike

Boston, MA (June 21, 2019) – Another Stop & Shop employee has turned to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation for free legal aid in the wake of the April strike by the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) against the supermarket chain. The unfair labor practice charge just filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) maintains that the worker was misled regarding his rights, and that union officials made illegal threats and engaged in unlawful retaliation against the worker because he exercised his right to continue working despite the union strike demands.

According to his charge, Saood Rafique began working at Stop & Shop in 2011 and joined the UFCW as a result of misinformation given him that union membership was required as a condition of employment. Rafique works in the meat department at Stop & Shop’s Jamaica Plain location.

When the strike was declared in April, he exercised his right to continue to work during the strike but abstained from formally renouncing his union membership because he still believed it was compulsory. Eventually he discovered that mandatory membership is a violation of federal labor law and then resigned from the UFCW.

Union bosses launched a campaign of illegal retaliation against Rafique when the strike was ending, his charge notes. A UFCW steward “[told] employees to not work with Charging Party in order to make his job duties in the meat department more difficult to carry out.” Later, UFCW union agents posted a notice in Rafique’s Stop & Shop store which scolded him and others who had continued to work during the strike and instructed employees to surveil Rafique and the other listed individuals and report their activities to union officials.

Additionally, UFCW bosses sent Rafique a letter which threatened illegal union disciplinary action and even his termination from Stop & Shop. The letter read in part that “workers have the right to bring you to trial in front of the Executive Board.” It claimed, contrary to federal law, that the union tribunal had the power to cause Rafique and the other workers to be “fired from Stop & Shop since it is a union shop.” The “union shop,” where full membership is required, was outlawed under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in 1947.

Rafique’s charge argues that the union boss-devised campaigns against him and others who chose to work during the union work stoppage are blatant violations of worker rights under the NLRA, which protects “the right to refrain from any or all” union activities and prohibits union officials from “restrain[ing] or coerc[ing]” any employee in the exercise of that right. The charge also asserts that Rafique was never a voluntary member of the UFCW because he was never properly informed of his rights, and thus cannot legally be subject to any union discipline.

Rafique joins Matthew Coffey, a clerk at a Stop & Shop in Northampton, MA, in filing unfair labor practices against the UFCW union with the help of the Foundation. Coffey was another victim of misinformation about his legal rights and also was targeted with personal slurs by UFCW agents after he exercised his right to continue to work during the strike.

“Once again, union bosses have been caught red-handed lying to workers about their legal rights, then retaliating against workers who eventually learn the truth and exercise their right to defy union officials’ strike demands,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “As these cases demonstrate, the legal rights of rank-and-file workers are frequently the first casualty when union bosses attempt to bully workers into abandoning their jobs as part of union strike actions.”

21 Jun 2019

Medicaid Providers Move to Defend Rule Ending Illegal Union Medicaid Skim

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Providers file motion to intervene after union bosses and their allied AGs filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Center for Medicaid Services’ rule to end illegal skim

San Francisco, CA (June 21, 2019) – A group of 10 Medicaid providers have moved to intervene in a recently filed federal lawsuit challenging a rule adopted by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that would stop union officials from skimming union dues directly out of taxpayer-funded Medicaid payments. AFSCME and SEIU union officials, and the pro-Big Labor Attorneys General of California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington State, recently filed the challenge to the rule, which was adopted in May.

The providers filed their motion with free legal representation from staff attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Washington State-based Freedom Foundation. The providers support the Trump Administration’s rule because it helps ensure their right not to fund union activities in violation of their First Amendment rights. They argue that the blanket prohibition in the Medicaid statute against assigning payments to third parties has no exemption for assignments to unions and their PACs, and thus the new rule simply puts the Medicaid regulations back into alignment with the law.

The Obama Administration attempted in 2014 to provide union officials with legal cover to siphon over $100 million every year in Medicaid funds into union political and lobbying activities by a special exemption for union officials to the Medicaid regulations. All told, union officials siphoned off a total of more than $1 billion in Medicaid funds over the past 15 years.

In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court held in the National Right to Work Foundation-won Harris v. Quinn case that it is unconstitutional for states to force homecare providers receiving Medicaid funds to pay union fees. However, citing the Obama rule, union officials continued siphoning the money from hundreds of thousands of providers, including many who attempted to stop the union dues seizures and others who were unaware they could not be required to make the payments. Some, while attempting to stop the payments, found that union agents had forged their signatures to authorize the payments.

In August 2018, the Foundation submitted formal comments to CMS supporting the agency’s proposal that would clarify that the diversion of Medicaid payments from providers to third parties, including unions, violates federal law. Those recommendations were finally adopted in early May, and are set to go into effect on July 5, 2019.

“Providers are right to oppose this lawsuit’s blatant attempt to enable union bosses to skim union dues in violation of federal law,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Contrary to the wishes of union bosses and their political allies, union officials are not entitled to a special exemption from federal law.”

“Nothing in this rule stops union officials from collecting voluntary dues from voluntary union members, it just says that taxpayers and government shouldn’t act as the bagman for such dues payments,” added Mix. “The hysterical response by Big Labor and its political allies to this simple clarification of what is longstanding federal law suggests they are worried that many members union officials claim to represent won’t pay dues once they realize they have a choice.”

20 Jun 2019

West Virginia Worker Submits Amicus Brief to State Supreme Court Defending Right to Work Law Against Union Boss Lawsuit

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Mountain State union lawyers’ legal challenge seeks to re-impose Big Labor’s power to have workers fired for refusing to pay union dues or fees

Charleston, WV (June 20, 2019) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have just filed an amicus brief urging the West Virginia Supreme Court to uphold the state’s popular Right to Work law in a case challenging that law brought by a coalition of unions. The brief is being submitted on behalf of West Virginia employee Donna Harper, who works as a laundry aide and nursing assistant at the Genesis HealthCare Tygert Center in Fairmont, West Virginia. The West Virginia-based Cardinal Institute and Americans For Prosperity are also listed along with the National Right to Work Foundation on the brief submitted to the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Harper’s brief was filed to defend her rights, as without the protection of West Virginia’s Right to Work law she could be fired solely for refusing to fund union activities. Under Right to Work union membership and financial support are strictly voluntary, whereas without such protections union officials can order a worker fired simply for refusing to pay union dues or fees. Because the workplace where Harper works is under Chauffeurs, Teamsters and Helpers Local Union No. 175 monopoly representation, elimination of her Right to Work protections would result in her being fired for refusing to financially support the union’s agenda.

West Virginia’s Right to Work law was passed in February 2016 when West Virginia legislators overrode then-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto, making West Virginia the 26th Right to Work state. There are currently 27 states with Right to Work laws. Additionally, all public employees have Right to Work protections under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision, which was briefed and argued by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

In 2016 lawyers for several state unions brought the case, now called West Virginia AFL-CIO, et al. v. Governor James C. Justice, et al., attempting to overturn the popular law. Polling consistently shows that Americans back Right to Work laws. A scientific survey also found that eighty percent of union members supported the Right to Work principle that union membership and dues payment should be voluntary and not required as a condition of employment.

Harper’s brief responds to the legally dubious arguments that were made by union lawyers, and accepted by Judge Jennifer Bailey of the Kanawha County Circuit Court. Similar arguments to the union lawyers’ primary arguments in this case for why the Right to Work protections for workers should be overturned have already been rejected by a Federal Court of Appeals and the Indiana Supreme Court when they were raised in cases involving Indiana’s Right to Work law. Furthermore, the brief points out that the Kanawha County Circuit Court decision ignores nearly 70 years of legal precedent upholding the constitutionality of state Right to Work laws, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

“Big Labor bosses are waging this protracted legal battle to return The Mountain State to a time when millions of dollars in workers’ money were forcibly shunted off to serve their own priorities,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Right to Work laws simply put individual freedom back at the center of a state’s labor laws, and all American workers deserve that freedom.”

The National Right to Work Foundation has a long history of successfully defending Right to Work laws in state and federal court. In addition to West Virginia, Foundation staff attorneys have taken legal action to defend and enforce new Right to Work laws in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Kentucky, all of which have passed Right to Work protections for employees since 2012.

Earlier this year National Right to Work Foundation won a settlement for a West Virginia worker who was illegally threatened by United Steelworkers after she resigned her membership, the first step towards exercising her rights under the Right to Work law. Foundation staff attorneys previously filed an amicus brief with the West Virginia Supreme Court in 2017, on behalf of another pro-Right to Work Mountain State worker, which led the court to overturn an injunction by a lower court judge so the law could go into effect.

18 Jun 2019

Pennsylvania Prison Guards File Lawsuit Against Union for Violating their First Amendment Rights under Janus Precedent

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Guards’ lawsuit challenges scheme designed to trap them into paying dues without their consent by limiting their constitutional rights to just 15 days per contract

Harrisburg, PA (June 18, 2019) – Several Pennsylvania state prison guards have filed a class action lawsuit against their union with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys and the Pennsylvania-based Fairness Center. The workers allege union officials’ policy and the Pennsylvania law that authorizes it violates their First Amendment rights.

William Weyandt, Mark Mills, Chris Taylor, Brandon Westover, and Cory Yedlosky, who work as prison guards at Huntingdon Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania, filed the lawsuit against the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (PSCOA) and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They allege that PSCOA union officials’ “escape period” policies and the state law that authorizes these policies unconstitutionally restrain them from exercising their First Amendment rights as public employees, rights recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark Janus v. AFSCME case.

Unlike the majority of states in America, Pennsylvania has never adopted a Right to Work law to protect all workers from compulsory unionism. However, the Janus decision extended these protections to all public employees at the federal, state, and local level, which includes the prison guards employed at Huntingdon Correctional Institution.

Successfully argued and won at the Supreme Court by Foundation staff attorneys in June 2018, the Janus decision held that all public employees in America have the right to choose not to subsidize any union activities. The High Court said that workers must opt-in to union payments and that any union fees seized without an employee’s consent violate their First Amendment rights.

Union officials across the country have engaged in a widespread effort to block workers from exercising their rights under Janus. In particular, union officials claim state and union “escape period” policies can limit workers’ First Amendment rights to just a few days once a year or even once every few years.

In response, Foundation staff attorneys are currently litigating dozens of cases to enforce workers’ Janus rights and have already won several notable settlements. These lawsuits could force union bosses to refund hundreds of millions of dollars in unlawfully seized dues and fees to tens of thousands of government employees.

“Pennsylvania state prison guards’ legal rights cannot be locked away by this blatantly unconstitutional union boss policy,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This case demonstrates once again that union officials will resort to extreme measures to force workers they supposedly ‘represent’ into paying union fees against their wishes.”

“It is long past time for union bosses to respect the rights of workers under the First Amendment and realize Janus means that union dues and fees should only be paid on a strictly voluntary basis,” Mix added.

6 Jun 2019

Ohio Worker Files Amicus Brief in Federal Lawsuit Seeking Return of Ohio Teachers’ Forced Union Fees

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Today, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys filed an amicus brief with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Ohio Department of Taxation employee Nathaniel Ogle. A copy of the brief can be found here.

The case seeks the refund of forced fees taken from Ohio teachers in violation of their First Amendment rights, as recognized in the Janus v. AFSCME US Supreme Court case, argued by Foundation staff attorney William Messenger. Messenger represents Ogle in a similar case in which Ogle is seeking the refund of potentially millions of dollars of forced fees taken from him and other state employees by AFSCME Local 11 union officials.

For more on Ogle’s case, read this article from a recent issue of the Foundation’s bi-monthly newsletter.

4 Jun 2019

Illinois Care Providers File Final Brief Asking Supreme Court to Take Case Seeking Return of Illegally-Seized Forced Union Fees

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Today National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys filed the final brief in Riffey v. Pritzker before the US Supreme Court conferences to decide whether or not to hear the case. The case is a continuation of the 2014 Foundation-won Supreme Court Harris v. Quinn case, and now seeks the refunds of seized union dues for over 80,000 home caregivers in Illinois.

National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix offered the following comments on the filing of the Petitioner’s Reply Brief today:

“Illinois homecare providers should no longer be forced to jump through legal hoops to reclaim their money that should never have been taken from them in the first place. The Supreme Court already decided in Harris v. Quinn that forcing homecare providers to pay fees to an unwanted union is unconstitutional in principle, and subsequently in Janus the court clarified that any dues taken without consent is a First Amendment violation. Riffey’s petition simply asks the High Court to apply the principles it laid out in Harris and Janus to the tens of thousands of Illinois providers so they can reclaim the over $32 million dollars seized from them.”

Background

In February, with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation, a group of Illinois homecare providers filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case in which providers seek the return of more than $32 million in union fees seized by SEIU officials in a scheme the High Court already declared unconstitutional.

The case, Riffey v. Pritzker, is a continuation of the 2014 Foundation-won Supreme Court Harris v. Quinn case. In Harris, the Court ruled that a scheme imposed by the State of Illinois, in which more than 80,000 individual homecare providers were forced to pay union fees out of the state funding they receive, violated the providers’ First Amendment rights.

In 2014, the case was re-designated Riffey v. Rauner (now Riffey v. Pritzker) and remanded to the District Court to settle remaining issues, including whether or not tens of thousands of providers who had not joined the union would receive refunds of the money taken from them unlawfully by the SEIU.

In June 2016, the District Court denied a motion for class certification. The ruling allowed the SEIU to keep more than $32 million in unconstitutional fees confiscated from union nonmembers who had not consented to their money being taken for union fees. Foundation staff attorneys appealed that ruling to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which also denied class certification.

In 2018, Foundation staff attorneys successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to review and reverse the Appeals Court’s ruling. The High Court did so the day after it issued the landmark Janus v. AFSCME decision, ordering the Appeals Court to reconsider the case in light of the Janus ruling, which struck down public sector forced union fees as violating the First Amendment.

In Janus, which was argued by the same National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney who is lead counsel in Riffey, the Supreme Court clarified that any union fees taken without an individual’s prior informed consent violate the First Amendment. That standard supports the Riffey plaintiffs’ claim that all providers who had money seized without their consent are entitled to refunds.

However, on December 6 a three-judge panel of the Appeals Court affirmed its previous ruling that no class can be certified for the more than 80,000 providers whose money was seized in violation of their First Amendment rights. The majority opinion, signed by two of the judges, denied class on the grounds that each individual homecare provider would have to prove that he or she objected to the taking of the fees when the seizures occurred.

In their petition for certiorari asking the Supreme Court to hear their case, the providers argue that Janus requires that the lower court’s class certification order be reversed. Foundation staff attorneys point out that the Janus precedent does not require a worker to prove his or her subjective opposition to forced union fees but held that the First Amendment is violated anytime union dues or fees are seized without clear affirmative consent.

Foundation attorneys argue that the case is of exceptional importance not only because it concerns the return of more than $32 million seized from some 80,000 homecare providers in violation of their First Amendment rights, but also because the lower courts’ ruling sets a precedent that could result in the denial of relief for millions of public employee victims of forced unionism.

All the briefs in the case can be viewed on the US Supreme Court’s docket here.

4 Jun 2019

Employee’s Federal Lawsuit Against Steelworkers Alleges “Window Period” Policy Violates Wisconsin’s Right to Work Law

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Lawsuit seeks to enforce Right to Work law provision that Wisconsin Attorney General Kaul refused to defend at the US Supreme Court last month

Burlington, Wisc. (June 4, 2019) – An employee at Packaging Corporation of America’s (PCA) Burlington, WI facility has just filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin against United Steelworkers Local 231 for enforcing a dues collection policy in violation of both federal labor law and a provision of Wisconsin’s Right to Work law.

According to Martin Carter’s lawsuit, which was filed with free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, United Steelworkers (USW) union agents subjected him to a dues checkoff authorization policy that violates federal law by being irrevocable for longer than one year, and violates Wisconsin’s Right to Work law by not allowing employees to stop dues deductions at any time with a 30-day notice.

According to the complaint, Carter believed upon being hired that signing off on the dues checkoff authorization was a condition of employment. When he tried to revoke that authorization later and exercise his rights under Wisconsin’s Right to Work law, which makes union dues and membership voluntary, union agents stonewalled his attempts deliver his revocation letter.

Carter’s lawsuit follows controversy surrounding Wisconsin’s new Democratic Attorney General, Josh Kaul. Last month Kaul withdrew the state’s petition asking the Supreme Court to review a lower court decision that part of Wisconsin’s Right to Work law, which gives private sector employees the right to revoke their dues “checkoff” with 30 days’ notice, was preempted by federal labor law. Rather than defend Wisconsin’s law, Kaul sided with union officials whom reports show gave his campaign for attorney general more than $400,000 in direct contributions, with union affiliates being his seven largest contributors.

Kaul’s capitulation left standing a divided 2-1 U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision that federal law preempts states like Wisconsin from protecting workers seeking to stop dues payments. Carter’s lawsuit brings this issue back to federal court, potentially giving the U.S. Supreme Court an opportunity to decide an issue that it was blocked from considering when Kaul reneged on his campaign pledge to defend Wisconsin laws, even those passed under the Walker administration.

“Martin Carter’s case shows there are real worker victims of Attorney General Kaul’s dereliction of his duty to defend all of Wisconsin’s laws,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “As this case shows, union bosses play fast and loose with workers’ rights in their attempt to trap them into forced dues payments against their will, which is precisely why Wisconsin legislators enacted the Right to Work law’s provision giving workers the option of cutting off dues payments within 30 days of asking to do so.”

3 Jun 2019

Milwaukee Workers Challenge NLRB “Merger Doctrine” that Blocks Workers from Holding Vote to Remove Unwanted Union

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After being unionized through coercive “card check,” workers are blocked from holding secret ballot vote by biased NLRB rules

Milwaukee, Wisc. (June 3, 2019) – A clerical employee at trucking company USF Holland’s Milwaukee, WI facility has just asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to overturn an NLRB Regional Director’s dismissal of her petition to hold a vote to decertify the Teamsters Local 200 union as the monopoly bargaining agent at her workplace.

Diane Damask’s petition, filed with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, challenges the so-called “merger doctrine,” which allows union officials to “merge” employees in a small bargaining unit into a much larger one to block them from voting to decertify the union. Damask’s request for review notes that the Teamsters performed such a scheme at her small clerical office in an agreement with USF Holland – without fully explaining the ramifications to the employees.

According to the request for review, Region 18’s dismissal of her petition wrongly stifles her rights because it “makes it effectively impossible for employees in such mega-units to exercise their…rights to decertify a union through a secret ballot election” under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). As the petition points out, this is not the first time the workers’ statutory rights to hold a decertification election to remove a union they oppose has been stifled by internal NLRB rules not mandated by the NLRA.

The Teamsters originally had scheduled an NLRB-supervised unionization election in January 2018, but then cancelled the vote after cutting a backroom deal with USF Holland to bypass the protections of a secret ballot vote, and instead unionize the workers through the coercive “card check” process. Upset by the situation, Damask and her colleagues quickly circulated a petition to trigger a secret ballot decertification vote only to be told by the NLRB that – under the controversial “voluntary recognition” bar adopted by the Obama NLRB – the workers would have to wait up to a full year before they could file a petition.

Having waited a full year for the NLRB-created “bar” after a card check to expire, now the workers – a majority of whom signed the decertification petition – find themselves blocked again from holding a secret ballot vote by a merger agreement over which they had no real say. In fact, it was not until after Damask had her decertification petition rejected that she learned that, according the merger agreement, she and her eight coworkers at their facility were now deemed part of a nationwide “mega-unit” of approximately 24,000 employees working for multiple employers.

Because triggering a decertification vote requires the signatures of thirty percent of workers in the bargaining unit, under the “merger” such a petition is virtually impossible as she would need to collect 7,000 signatures from workers across the country she has no way of even locating.

Damask’s petition argues that the Teamsters and USF Holland improperly “‘waived’ the Milwaukee clerical employees’ rights under the [NLRA] to decertify an unwanted union” and that “if the…clerical employees constituted a separate appropriate unit for purposes of selecting the Teamsters to represent them…the Board should still consider them a(n)…appropriate unit for purposes of removing the union.”

“This case shows how union bosses, aided by biased NLRB-concocted rules, can trap workers in union ranks for years even when a majority of the workers want out,” said National Right to Work President Mark Mix. “It’s time for the NLRB to stop dragging its feet and reform its arbitrary rules, including the so-called ‘merger doctrine,’ that are being used to eviscerate workers’ statutory right under the National Labor Relations Act to hold a vote to remove a union opposed by a majority of employees.”

3 Jun 2019

Transportation Worker Asks Federal Labor Board to Review “Settlement Bar” Doctrine that Blocks Votes to Remove Union

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Employees’ right under National Labor Relations Act to hold decertification vote is blocked by settlement between union and company

Chicago, IL (June 3, 2019) – An employee at Langer Transport Corporation’s Joliet, IL, facility has asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to review a ruling by NLRB Region 13 that blocks workers at the company from holding a vote to remove the Teamsters from their workplace.

Angelika Van Meeteren’s petition comes after the Teamsters union officials and Langer last October settled earlier unfair labor practice charges filed by the union against Langer. The agreement included a “settlement bar” clause immunizing the union from any decertification attempts for an entire year.

Van Meeteren and her coworkers who want the decertification vote were not parties to the agreement. Although not authorized by the National Labor Relations Act, prior NLRB actions created the so-called “settlement bar” doctrine, which denies workers their right to hold a vote to remove a union for a period of time after the settlement of charges filed against the employer. The bar is often imposed even when the settlement does not contain any admission that the employer violated the law.

Van Meeteren’s petition, which was filed with free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, argues that settlement decertification bars “have no basis in the [National Labor Relations] Act” and “offend basic principles of justice” because they prevent employees from exercising their right to hold a decertification vote simply because a company and a union came to an agreement forbidding it — without any input from the employees. That right is guarded by Section 7 of the NLRA, which explicitly protects “the right to refrain from” union representation.

Foundation staff attorneys have fought “settlement bars” on a number of fronts, most recently in a federal lawsuit filed for Marcia Williams and Karen Wunz, two Pennsylvania school bus drivers whose decertification petition was blocked by the NLRB after their employer Krise Transportation came to a settlement with Teamsters Local 397. That lawsuit was eventually deemed moot, because the bar expired while the litigation was proceeding, thus allowing the workers to hold a vote. The Foundation also sent a letter to the NLRB last December requesting that future rulemaking by the Board address “settlement bars” and their inherent conflicts with the NLRA.

“The NLRB-concocted ‘settlement bar’ doctrine is an assault on fundamental fairness by restricting workers’ legal right to remove an unpopular union solely because of unproven allegations made against their employer by union officials,” commented National Right to Work President Mark Mix. “The Act is supposed to protect the right of workers to join or reject a union. Punishing Angelika Van Meeteren and her coworkers by blocking their petition to vote out a union they oppose, despite the fact no one even alleges the workers broke any law, is totally contrary to that fundamental purpose.”

30 May 2019

Union Bosses in New York and Oregon Hit with Federal Charges for Illegal Forced Union Dues

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Workers file NLRB charges against UFCW union for failing to follow Supreme Court precedent requiring disclosures about dues demands

Washington, D.C. (May 30, 2019) – Two separate unfair labor practice charges just filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against two locals of the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW) suggest widespread violations of workers’ legal rights by UFCW union officials.

The charges, filed with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, state union officials failed to provide legally required breakdowns of how forced union fees were calculated as mandated by the 1988 CWA v. Beck Supreme Court case. Under the National Labor Relations Act and the National Right to Work Foundation-won Beck case, union officials must provide an audited financial breakdown to justify the amount of the union fees that they force nonmember workers to pay as a condition of employment.

Salem, Oregon Safeway employee Harvey Henry filed his NLRB charge against UFCW Local 555. In response to an April 18 letter sent by Henry objecting to full union dues and resigning his membership in the union, UFCW officials acknowledged his letter but simply quoted again what “he owes rather than providing him with the requisite financial ‘breakdown.’”

Similarly, Carolee Buckley, who works at the Plattdeutsche Home Society retirement home in Franklin Square, NY, sent a letter last October to UFCW Local 2013 union officials resigning her union membership and objecting to all dues beyond what union officials can legally require her to pay. Her charge states that, in the nearly seven months since that time, UFCW officials have not given her the required breakdown of how the fees they are demanding she pay are calculated.

The charges are not the only cases currently pending against the UFCW for this type of violation. Last May, a 16-year-old Safeway clerk from Danville, CA filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB against UFCW Local 5 for failing to provide him with a breakdown of compulsory fees following his resignation, also with Foundation aid. In April, the NLRB Regional Director issued a complaint against UFCW Local 5 to prosecute the union for violating the clerk’s rights, with a trial set to begin soon.

All three employees work in states – Oregon, New York and California – that lack Right to Work laws, which make union membership and financial support completely voluntary. Despite the lack of Right to Work protections for workers, even in forced dues states union officials must provide certain disclosures to workers to justify the amount of the forced union fees, but the unfair labor practice charges say UFCW union officials are not complying with that requirement.

“As these three cases demonstrate, UFCW union bosses are willing to violate the rights of the very workers they claim to represent, just to fill their coffers with more forced union dues,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “These cases show why workers nationwide need the protection of Right to Work laws, which make union membership and dues payment strictly voluntary. As long as union officials can force workers to pay even a portion of full union dues as a condition of employment, greedy Big Labor bosses will continue to cook the books and keep workers in the dark about the restrictions on their privileges to force nonmembers to fund their agenda.”