Ohio Union Bosses Back Down from Class Action Lawsuit Challenging Union Dues Scheme Designed to Block Workers’ Janus Rights
Settlement eliminates illegal restrictions, allows almost 30,000 Ohio government employees under AFSCME Council 11’s power to exercise Janus right to end dues deductions
Columbus, OH (July 14, 2020) – Ohio public employees have just won a settlement in their federal class-action lawsuit charging the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 11 union and the State of Ohio with enforcing illegal restrictions on their First Amendment right to cut off union dues deductions. The lawsuit was filed with free legal aid from staff attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
The lawsuit, brought by four state employees, challenged a union-created “escape period” dues deduction scheme as being unconstitutional under the 2018 Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision. In Janus, the Court struck down mandatory union fees for public sector workers as an infringement of their First Amendment rights, and ruled that the government can only deduct union dues or fees with an individual’s affirmative and knowing consent.
The State of Ohio and AFSCME’s “maintenance of membership” policy blocked workers from exercising their right to end union dues deductions except for a brief escape period that opened roughly once every three years at the expiration of the union monopoly bargaining contract. The AFSCME boss-created scheme was imposed by the State of Ohio on an estimated 28,000 Buckeye State public servants.
Now, as a result of the settlement, AFSCME officials and the State of Ohio have rescinded their “maintenance of membership” restriction on when state workers can exercise their First Amendment right to cut off union dues deductions. They also are required to honor requests to stop dues deductions from any employees who signed the AFSCME dues authorization form at issue in the lawsuit. Finally, the settlement requires AFSCME bosses to pay back dues seized illegally under the scheme to the plaintiffs and more than 150 other employees who tried to cut off union dues deductions after Janus was decided.
Seven other Ohio public employees won the first-in-the-nation victory against unconstitutional “escape periods” with Foundation aid in January 2019. These workers filed a class-action federal lawsuit challenging a similar policy created by AFSCME Council 8 bosses and won a settlement ending the restrictions for themselves and their coworkers. That win was followed by two other Ohio public workers, Connie Pennington and Donna Fizer, successfully ending “escape period” restrictions with Foundation assistance in 2019.
“Although this string of victories for Buckeye State public employees and their First Amendment rights is certainly encouraging, the widespread nature of these schemes shows there remains much work to do to force union bosses to end their unconstitutional restrictions on public employees’ First Amendment Janus rights,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Governor DeWine and Attorney General Yost need to move quickly to stop violations of the First Amendment rights of all Ohio public sector workers and should cease collecting union dues from any worker who has not affirmatively consented to pay them.”
Swedish Medical Center Employee Appeals Case against SEIU Union to National Labor Relations Board General Counsel
Union officials “hid the ball” by failing to tell worker he had no obligation to pay union fees in absence of monopoly bargaining contract
Seattle, WA (July 7, 2020) – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Swedish Medical Center employee Roger White is appealing his case against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199NW to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel in Washington, D.C.
White filed federal charges against the union in April, asserting that union officials had continued to seize dues from his paycheck illegally even after twice attempting to exercise his rights to end union membership and as a nonmember pay only the portion of dues directly related to bargaining. He also argued that his second request to end membership and pay reduced dues should have actually stopped dues deductions completely, because at the time there was a strike going on and no contract in effect between Swedish Medical Center and SEIU 1199NW.
The appeal is from a decision by the NLRB Regional Director in Seattle, who claimed that SEIU officials were not obliged to inform White that he was not required to pay union fees during a contract hiatus. Foundation attorneys argue that the SEIU owed White a “duty of truth and honesty,” and decry the fact that the SEIU was able to “‘hide the ball’ and continue collecting dues” during the contract hiatus despite White’s clear “notice that he want[ed] to disassociate” from the union as much as possible.
Because Washington State has not enacted Right to Work protections for its employees, White and his coworkers can be forced to pay a fee to the union as a condition of employment when a contract so requiring is in effect. However, the fee is limited by the Foundation-won 1988 CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision to only the portion of union dues that is directly germane to the union’s bargaining functions. Union officials must also follow certain Beck procedures before collecting such fees, such as providing workers an independent audit of the union’s expenses.
White’s appeal also points out that the Regional Director’s decision completely ignores a memo on this topic from the NLRB General Counsel. The memo states that private sector employees who can be legally forced to pay union fees as a condition of employment “have rights to…object to paying for activities not germane to unions’ representational duties, to revoke dues checkoff authorizations at certain times; and to receive the information necessary to make these choices.”
The appeal notes that SEIU 1199NW is “a repeat [National Labor Relations Act] violator.” Daniel Dalison, another Swedish Medical Center employee, also has federal charges against the union. Dalison filed charges against SEIU 1199NW in January 2020 asserting that union officials had never given employees “adequate notice of their rights under Beck” and had refused to stop all dues deductions when he revoked his dues checkoff authorization during the strike. Dalison and White both also filed charges in April asserting that SEIU 1199NW officials were maintaining a requirement that any worker who wants to obtain a copy of his or her dues paperwork must present a photo ID.
Yet another employee of Swedish Medical Center, NancyEllen Elster, won a settlement with Foundation aid against SEIU 1199NW bosses in October 2019. NLRB Region 19 had found merit in Elster’s charges that SEIU bosses had never given a proper Beck rights notice to employees, and had denied her request to pay the reduced dues amount under Beck.
“It is outrageous that NLRB Region 19 is allowing SEIU union bosses to get away with playing deceptive games with the employees they claim to represent, just to keep their hard earned money rolling into the union’s coffers illegally,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The NLRB General Counsel should direct Region 19 to prosecute the SEIU for keeping Mr. White and his coworkers in the dark about their rights. These cases demonstrate the abuses that inevitably occur when union officials are granted the power to force employees to subsidize their activities or be terminated from employment.”
Right to Work Foundation Backs Civil Service Commission’s Proposal Protecting Workers’ First Amendment ‘Janus’ Rights
Comments urge state agency to go further, ensure that employees know they have First Amendment right under Supreme Court decision to stop payments to union
Lansing, MI (July 6, 2020) – The National Right to Work Foundation submitted comments to the Michigan Civil Service Commission, supporting the Commission’s proposed move to nix the state’s current policy of using old dues authorizations to continue deducting union dues from public employee paychecks. The Commission proposes a system requiring the state to obtain consent from workers before taking dues from them every year.
The Commission’s slated rule was issued in response to the Foundation-won 2018 Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision, in which the Court ruled that all public employees have a First Amendment right to abstain from subsidizing union activities. In light of that ruling, the Foundation’s comments urge the Commission to go further to protect Michigan public servants’ Janus rights, and annually notify workers that they have a First Amendment right to stop dues deductions from their paychecks at any time.
In Janus, the High Court struck down mandatory union payments as violating the First Amendment rights of government employees. The Court ruled that any compelled payments to a union taken without a government worker’s affirmative consent violate the First Amendment. The Court further made it clear that this consent requires a clear and knowing waiver of First Amendment rights. Justice Samuel Alito also wrote for the majority that such a rights waiver “cannot be presumed” by state and union officials.
The Commission’s memo announcing its proposed rule change maintains that, in light of the Supreme Court’s mandate that employees must affirmatively opt-in to union dues payments, “ongoing deduction of fees based on old authorizations is problematic.” In contrast, requiring that the state receive positive approval from employees every year before deducting dues “ensure[s] both that employees know their rights and the validity of these authorizations.”
The Foundation’s comments agree with that reasoning, observing that the proposed rule will help ensure that “the Commission acts within the scope of its state constitutional authority by only authorizing union dues deductions from the wages of those employees who, knowing they do not have to pay, intelligently and voluntarily express their wish to pay those dues.”
However, the comments also point out that the Commission’s proposed language “does not fully notify employees of their constitutional right” to refrain from union dues payments “or the consequences of abandoning that right.” Consequently, they urge the Commission to modify the rule “to require that the notice expressly inform employees of their constitutional right…not to pay any union dues or fees and that authorizing such deductions waives that right.”
The Commission is accepting comments on the policy through July 6. The agency’s next meeting is scheduled for July 15, at which point it could take action to put the plan into effect.
Other states that are considering adopting similar policies include Texas and Indiana. The attorneys general of both states have issued opinions advocating reforms similar to those mentioned in the Foundation’s comments. In addition, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy signed an executive order instituting similar Janus protections for state employees last September.
Since the Janus decision, Foundation staff attorneys have litigated more than 30 cases for workers seeking to enforce and expand the Janus victory. Since Michigan’s Right to Work law was passed, Foundation staff attorneys have also filed at least 120 cases for Michigan workers seeking to defend their rights under the law.
“The Commission is taking an important step to proactively protect the First Amendment right of government workers in Michigan, many of whom may have only authorized dues deductions before the Supreme Court recognized those rights in the 2018 Janus decision, with many likely signing such cards before the Wolverine State adopted Right to Work, when such payments were mandatory,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “It is long past time that public workers nationwide should have had their Janus rights respected, and we urge all states to join the growing list of those who are taking the First Amendment rights of their public servants seriously and affirmatively protecting those rights.”
NLRB Moves to Prosecute Embassy Suites & UNITE HERE Union for Violating Worker Rights with Coercive ‘Card Check’ Unionization
Complaint comes after top NLRB prosecutor found Embassy Suites’ ‘neutrality agreement’ with union illegally assisted union boss organizing drive
Seattle, WA (July 2, 2020) – National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 19 in Seattle will prosecute Embassy Suites and the UNITE HERE Local 8 union in housekeeper Gladys Bryant’s case, which charges union and hotel officials with using an illegal “neutrality agreement” to impose a union on the hotel’s workers.
The case challenges a legal standard that allowed union officials to run a hasty “card check” drive to foist union representation on the workers with unlawful assistance from her employer. Bryant is receiving free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
Bryant filed unfair labor practice charges after the UNITE HERE Local 8 union was installed at the Embassy Suites hotel in May 2018 through an oft-abused card check drive which bypassed the NLRB’s regular secret-ballot election process. As part of the so-called “neutrality agreement,” Embassy Suites gave union organizers space in the hotel to meet and solicit employees. It also provided union officials with a list of all employees’ names, jobs, and contact information to assist the union in collecting authorization cards from employees.
After NLRB Region 19 officials declined to prosecute the union or employer for violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NRLA), Bryant appealed the case to the NLRB General Counsel in January 2019. In response to the appeal, the General Counsel found that the union’s card check recognition was tainted because Embassy Suites through the “neutrality agreement” provided significant aid to the union officials’ organizing efforts in violation of the NLRA.
The NLRB General Counsel agreed with Bryant’s Foundation attorneys that Embassy Suites provided UNITE HERE’s organizing campaign with more than so-called “ministerial aid.” The NLRB has long held that an employer taints employees’ efforts to remove a union if it gives the employees support such as providing a list of bargaining unit employees or use of company resources. Bryant’s appeal successfully argued that the “ministerial aid” standard must also apply when an employer aids union officials’ efforts to gain monopoly bargaining power over workers. Thus, the General Counsel’s ruling applies the “ministerial aid” standard consistently, no matter whether the employer’s assistance would be in favor of or opposed to unionization.
The NLRB General Counsel remanded the case to Region 19 so the union and employer could be prosecuted. The complaint issued by NLRB Region 19 states that “Respondent Union obtained recognition from Respondent Employer” as the monopoly bargaining agent in the workplace despite the fact that UNITE HERE officials “did not represent an uncoerced majority of the unit.” The case will now be tried before an NLRB Administrative Law Judge.
“There is nothing neutral about so-called ‘neutrality agreements,’ which are nothing more than pressure-cooked, backroom deals between union bosses and company officials to impose forced unionization on workers from the top down,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “It is long past time that the NLRB eliminate the unjustifiable double standard in the law which has been used for years to assist union organizers in unionizing through coercive card check drives, while at the same time making it harder for workers to remove a union they oppose.”
National Right to Work President Urges US Attorney Schneider to Implement Worker-Empowering Reforms of UAW
To restore accountability, workers must have free choice to refuse to fund union and reject union monopoly representation
Washington, DC (June 29, 2020) – On the eve of an announced meeting between US Attorney Matthew Schneider and new United Auto Workers (UAW) President Rory Gamble, National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix released a letter he sent urging Schneider to consider worker-empowering reforms for the corruption-plagued union.
The letter was sent Friday following reports that Schneider will meet with UAW President Rory Gamble on June 30 to discuss the union’s future after the widespread federal probe of the union leadership’s corruption.
The investigation has uncovered the misspending of millions of dollars in worker funds by prominent UAW officials up to and including former president Gary Jones. The investigation has snagged convictions of at least 14 people, including at least 11 people affiliated with the UAW so far. A full federal takeover of the union has been discussed by federal law enforcement officials, and news reports say that Gamble himself may be under scrutiny as well.
In the letter, Mix points out that coercive privileges granted to the UAW by federal law created an environment where UAW officials could all too easily take advantage of workers, writing:
“UAW union officials have perpetrated this abuse using the extraordinary powers granted to them by federal law — primarily their dual coercive powers of monopoly exclusive representation and authorization to cut deals mandating that rank-and-file workers pay union dues or fees, or else be fired…”
The letter urges that any reforms must “squarely address” the control that union officials have over rank-and-file workers, suggesting that federal agents should “impose an immediate recertification vote for every union local touched by the corruption,” “empower workers as individuals to fight corruption through refusing to fund the UAW,” and “impose an independent auditor tasked with providing full transparency to rank-and-file workers of all union financial transactions.” These remedies, Mix says, should be “part of a federal takeover of the union, or at least…required of the union to avoid a federal takeover.”
Mix concludes by observing that “this is far from the first time unaccountable union officials have been caught funding their limousine lifestyles with…funds that were supposed to serve workers’ interests.” In light of past fixes not deterring union bosses from abusing their power, Mix exhorts Schneider to “try some new ideas” that focus on empowering the workers “whose trust and money has been systematically stolen.”
The letter and news of a potential federal takeover of the UAW come after the union’s upper echelon has endorsed Joe Biden for president. Biden has publicly stated that, if he is elected, he will work to overturn all Right to Work laws in the country. That would force all worker victims of the UAW corruption to once again pay money to the union or else be fired. In 27 states, including Michigan where the UAW is headquartered, Right to Work laws ensure that no worker can be fired for refusing to tender dues or fees to a union hierarchy as a condition of employment.
“The revelations of greed and shamelessness that continue to arise in the UAW probe are no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the coercive privileges granted union bosses by federal law,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Though we urge Mr. Schneider to push the reforms detailed in our letter which will put the power to hold union officials accountable in workers’ hands, there is ultimately no place in federal law for provisions that force workers to pay union bosses or accept their so-called ‘representation’ to keep or get a job.”
Worker’s Push to Eject UFCW Union Triggers Labor Board to Reconsider Policy Blocking Votes to Oust Unions
NLRB will impound ballots in election to remove UFCW while issue is decided
Washington, DC (June 25, 2020) – In a recently issued order, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that it will review its so-called “contract bar” doctrine, which prevents employees from exercising their right to vote an unpopular union out of their workplace for up to three years if union officials and their employer have finalized a monopoly bargaining contract.
The “contract bar” is not provided for in the text of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which the NLRB administers, but is the result of past Board decisions in favor of union bosses.
This is the latest development in a case by a Delaware-based Mountaire Farms poultry employee, Oscar Cruz Sosa, against the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27 union. Cruz Sosa submitted a petition for a vote on whether Local 27 should be removed as monopoly bargaining agent in his workplace. The petition was signed by more than the number of workers necessary to trigger such a vote.
Cruz Sosa also filed federal unfair labor practice charges in April against the union for illegally seizing dues from his and other employees’ paychecks, as well as threatening him after he submitted the decertification petition to remove the union. He is receiving free legal representation from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
UFCW officials argued after the petition’s filing that the “contract bar” should block Cruz Sosa and his coworkers from even having an election, because the monopoly bargaining agreement between Mountaire and the union had been signed less than three years earlier. The NLRB Regional Director held that the vote should proceed because the union agreement contains an unlawful forced dues clause that mandates workers immediately pay union dues upon hiring or be fired, in violation of a statutory 30-day grace period. Despite the longstanding precedent supporting the Regional Director’s ruling, UFCW union lawyers filed a Request for Review asking the full NLRB to overrule the Regional Director.
Cruz Sosa’s National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys opposed the union’s efforts to block the vote, and argued that if the Board were to grant the union’s Request for Review it should also reconsider the entire “contract bar” policy, which has no statutory basis in the NLRA. The Foundation’s legal brief noted that the contract bar runs counter to the rights of workers under the NLRA, which explicitly include the right to vote out a union a majority of workers oppose. The brief also notes that the idea of a “contract bar” was rejected by the original NLRB when the NLRA was passed.
Late Tuesday, just hours after the voting process in the decertification election had begun, the NLRB issued its order accepting the Foundation’s argument that the entire “contract bar” doctrine should be reviewed. The order noted “that it is appropriate for the Board to undertake in this case a general review of its contract bar doctrine.”
The Board’s order also stayed the election while the Request for Review was pending, but after Foundation staff attorneys submitted a motion asking the NLRB to modify its order so the vote could proceed with the ballots impounded, the Board issued another order late Wednesday allowing the vote to go forward.
“The ‘contract bar’ has for decades allowed union officials to trap workers in a union a majority of them oppose for up to three years merely because the employer and union finalized a contract between themselves,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “We urge the NLRB to swiftly overturn this outrageous non-statutory policy, as it actively undermines the free choice of workers that is supposed to be at the center of federal labor law.”
“The very premise of the NLRB-created contract bar, that union bosses should be insulated from worker decertification efforts, is completely backwards,” added Mix. “Union officials use all types of tactics to get workers into unions but rely on government power to not let them get out.”
Seattle Building Services Worker Hits SEIU6 Union Officials with Charges for Illegal Dues Seizures, Misinformation on Rights
Just latest in chain of charges against multiple Seattle SEIU unions, all concern roadblocks to letting workers exercise workplace rights
Seattle, WA (June 17, 2020) – Pacific Building Services employee Daniel Dalison has filed federal charges against Service Employees International Union (SEIU6) Property Services NW for violating his rights by maintaining deceiving membership forms that misinform workers about their rights. He is also charging both the union and Pacific Building Services with deducting dues illegally from his paycheck, even though he has never authorized any deductions and objected to union membership and paying union fees beyond the amount that can be required as a condition of employment.
Because Washington State has not enacted Right to Work protections for its private sector employees, they can still be forced to pay fees to a union as a condition of getting or keeping a job. However, for employees who object to formal union membership, this amount is limited by the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision to just the portion of union dues that is directly related to bargaining purposes, and cannot include union political and lobbying activities. Beck also requires that unions follow certain procedures before taking forced fees from nonmember paychecks, including providing an independent audit of the union’s expenses.
Dalison filed his charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys. The charges state he was hired by Pacific Building Services in May 2020 and was given an information packet from SEIU6 the same month.
The charge states that SEIU6’s welcome packet incorrectly informed Dalison that he couldn’t exercise his Beck right to object to full union dues outside the 31-day window after his hire date. On top of that, Dalison’s charge explains that the membership form included in the packet is an illegal “dual purpose” form, which, if signed, triggers automatic dues seizures from an employee’s paycheck despite “actually say[ing] nothing about dues authorization.” Federal law provides that employers cannot deduct union dues or fees directly from employees’ paychecks unless they have affirmative consent from them, regardless of their membership status.
After receiving the information packet, Dalison sent the union letters “stating that he did not want union membership” and wished only to pay the required fees to keep his job. He also asked the union to furnish an independent audit of its expenses and a copy of the monopoly bargaining contract between it and Pacific Building Services. The charge says that the union responded with a letter claiming “he must have misunderstood his options” and that its records showed he was a member and must pay full dues.
Despite never assenting to union membership and submitting objection letters, Dalison’s charge reports that full dues were deducted from his paycheck on June 8, 2020. His charge contends that this violates his right under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) “to refrain from any or all” union activities. His charge also seeks an injunction under Section 10(j) of the NLRA to force the SEIU and employer to immediately stop the activities described in the charges while the NLRB investigates.
Earlier this year Dalison charged officials of SEIU 1199NW for violating employee rights at Swedish Medical Center, where he has also worked. Those charges related that, in addition to not allowing workers to exercise their Beck rights, SEIU 1199NW bosses ordered workers to provide photo identification any time they asked to see their own paperwork regarding membership and dues check off authorizations. Those charges are still pending at NLRB Region 19.
“Within just a few months, Seattle SEIU bosses have proved repeatedly that they will violate the rights of the workers they claim to represent just to illegally siphon dues from employee paychecks,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “NLRB Region 19, which is now knee-deep in pending employee charges revealing the brazen tactics of coercion engaged in by these union bosses, must immediately seek an injunction to protect workers from these egregious schemes.”
Teamsters Local 175 bosses illegally cut deal in which union stewards got pay raise unavailable to other workers
Fairmont, WV (June 16, 2020) – A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional office based in Pittsburgh issued a complaint against Teamsters Local 175 for discriminating against employees by giving a pay increase only to union stewards. NLRB Region 5’s complaint was issued in response to unfair labor practice charges from a former employee at Genesis HealthCare Tygart Center in Fairmont, WV. The former nursing assistant is receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
This new NLRB Region 5 complaint comes while an appeal to an imposed settlement in a linked case against the Tygart Center on the grounds that it fails to compensate the employees who were denied the additional pay per hour given to union stewards is pending.
According to this new complaint from NLRB Region 5 against Local 175, Donna Harper and her coworkers signed Teamsters membership and dues checkoff authorization forms that contained confusing language and failed to “clearly inform signers that they are permitted to revoke dues deduction authorization” when a union bargaining contract expires or whenever there is no such contract in effect.
Harper submitted a letter to the Teamsters union exercising her right to end her membership and cease union dues deductions in February 2019. Teamsters officials rejected this request, telling Harper that her submission was “untimely” and would need to be sent again at a later date to be accepted. Though Harper had asked the union for the time frame when she could tender her request to end membership and cut off dues, Teamsters officials never informed her of this, according to the complaint. The complaint says that Teamsters officials also did not timely reply to a second request Harper sent in March of 2019.
The union contract imposed by the Teamsters and Tygart Center contained a clause which read that employees who were union stewards as of July 2017 would “receive twenty-five cents ($0.25) per hour above their classified rate.” The complaint contends that Teamsters officials violated employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) through the pay discrimination, the treatment of Ms. Harper’s resignation and revocation, and the confusing checkoff language.
The complaint comes after the West Virginia Supreme Court unanimously upheld the state’s Right to Work protections, which ensure that no private or public sector worker can be forced to join or pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment. The law was the subject of a years-long legal attack by West Virginia union lawyers, including the West Virginia AFL-CIO. Foundation staff attorneys submitted ten legal briefs defending the law, including one for Harper.
“Teamsters union bosses, who misinformed Ms. Harper and her coworkers and were then caught red-handed discriminating against those in her workplace who were not union stewards, serve as just one more example of why Right to Work protections are necessary to safeguard employee rights in the Mountain State,” commented National Right to Work President Mark Mix. “Although the discrimination Ms. Harper charged Teamsters honchos with was blatantly illegal long before West Virginia enacted Right to Work, requiring union bosses to use persuasion and not coercion to win worker support will make them think twice before trying to enforce an illegal scheme under the radar.”
Mix added: “While the West Virginia Supreme Court was right in upholding the Right to Work law, it will take vigorous enforcement to ensure that rank-and-file employees like Ms. Harper are not subjected to these kinds of coercive tactics.”
Gompers Preparatory Academy Educators Appeal Decision Allowing Union to Block Workers’ Right to Vote Out Union
Appeal asks PERB to eliminate standard which lets union bosses use unsubstantiated allegations to block employee votes
San Diego, CA (June 10, 2020) – Educators at Gompers Preparatory Academy (GPA) charter school are appealing a decision by a California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) regional attorney, which let San Diego Education Association (SDEA) union bosses block the educators’ right to vote on whether the union should remain at the school. The educators, who submitted a valid petition to initiate a vote to remove the union, are led by chemistry teacher Dr. Kristie Chiscano. Dr. Chiscano and her fellow educators are receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
The appeal follows SDEA union officials’ so-called filing of “blocking charges” against the charter school. The union charges allege that school leadership committed unfair labor practices, and were accepted by the PERB administrator as a reason to stop the election to remove the union. This happened despite the union not alleging or proving any wrongdoing on the educators’ part, and despite the PERB never holding a hearing into whether the charges had any merit. The appeal seeks to overturn PERB Regulation 32752, which allows union bosses to “plead unproven ‘facts’ that a Board agent or attorney must accept as true” which “will almost always guarantee a secret-ballot election will be stayed (stopped).”
SDEA union officials were installed at the school in January 2019 after conducting a controversial “card check” union drive, bypassing the more reliable method of a secret-ballot election whether to certify a union as the monopoly representative of all educators in the school. Since the school’s unionization, no monopoly bargaining contract has been approved and educators and parents have accused union agents of divisive activity, including supporting anti-charter school legislation.
Dr. Chiscano began circulating the decertification petition in October 2019. She soon obtained the signatures of well over the number of her fellow educators necessary to trigger a PERB-supervised secret-ballot vote to remove the union. However, the appeal notes, SDEA union officials “filed a strategically-timed unfair practice charge against GPA in December 2019” to block the educators from exercising their right to vote on whether to remove the union. Despite the educators’ Foundation-provided attorneys submitting a brief explaining why SDEA bosses’ unsubstantiated allegations had nothing to do with the employees’ desire to vote, the PERB attorney stayed the election in May 2020.
The appeal asks that the PERB alter the standard used to process employee petitions for a decertification election because the current practice “is the antithesis of employee free choice” in that it grants union bosses the privilege to “block a secret-ballot election based on mere strategic pleading in an unproven unfair practice charge.”
Also pointed out is that, after a “blocking charge” is filed, “it becomes the employees’ and employer’s burden to show why the unproven allegations in the unfair practice charge would not affect the election process.”
The appeal proposes that the PERB adopt a new standard that requires union officials who file “blocking charges” to, during a hearing, prove a “causal nexus” between the unfair employer conduct they allege and “any effect on employees that would prevent them from making a free choice in a secret-ballot election.” Dr. Chiscano’s case, the appeal says, should be reconsidered under that standard.
“Dr. Chiscano and her coworkers just want to be able to exercise their right to vote, free of coercion, on whether or not SDEA union bosses deserve to maintain power at their school,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Instead of letting them vote, power-hungry SDEA union bosses who, ironically, oppose charter schools like GPA, have exploited the PERB’s anti-worker choice standards to hold these educators captive under their so-called ‘representation’ for more than 17 months.”
Mix added: “The PERB should immediately reform its standards to stop allowing union officials to use totally unproven allegations to block employees’ right to free themselves of an unwanted union.”
Foundation Staff Attorneys Appeal NLRB Settlement that Fails to Compensate Victims of Union Discrimination Scheme
Tygart Center settlement failed to provide a complete remedy to employees for its discriminatory practice of paying more per hour to union stewards
Fairmont, WV (May 26, 2020) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have appealed a forced settlement agreement between the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Tygart Center imposed on healthcare worker Donna Harper. Harper objects to the imposed settlement because it fails to provide a complete remedy for her and other workers who were discriminated against under the union bargaining agreement between Tygart Center and Teamsters Local 175.
In the settlement, Tygart Center agrees to stop enforcing an unlawful contract provision under which Teamsters union stewards have been paid more per hour than other employees. However, as Foundation attorneys argue in their appeal to NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, the settlement does not require Tygart Center to compensate the employees who were denied the additional pay per hour as a result of the discrimination.
“The Employer and Union unlawfully discriminated in favor of Union stewards, granting them an increased wage in the [union contract] while denying that wage to all others,” one portion of the appeal reads. “This action denied a benefit to every employee who was not a Union steward.”
Foundation staff attorneys also filed an amicus brief for Harper with the West Virginia Supreme Court to defend the state’s Right to Work law against a protracted lawsuit brought by several unions attempting to overturn the law and restore union officials’ power to have workers fired for refusing to pay union dues or fees.
The West Virginia Supreme Court on April 21 of this year unanimously upheld the constitutionality of West Virginia’s Right to Work law, which has been in effect during that litigation due to earlier orders issued by that court.
“Union bosses in West Virginia want nothing more than to coerce workers into paying dues either by misleading workers by wrongly telling them they must pay union dues or by trying unsuccessfully to overturn the state’s Right to Work law in court,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Foundation staff attorneys are ensuring that employers and union bosses in the Mountain State do not get away with illegal deals to fill union coffers or unlawfully discriminate against employees who choose to exercise their rights to not engage in union activity.”