4 Apr 2024

Somerset, NJ, Nissan Parts Distribution Center Employees File Petition for Vote to Kick Out UAW Union

Posted in News Releases

UAW union officials imposed forced-dues contracts on Nissan employees

Somerset, NJ (April 4, 2024) – Michael Oliver, an employee of Nissan North America’s parts distribution center in Somerset, NJ, has just filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking a workplace vote to remove United Auto Workers (UAW) officials from his workplace. Oliver filed the petition with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law, which includes administering elections to install (or “certify”) and remove (or “decertify”) unions. Oliver’s petition contains signatures from enough of his coworkers to trigger a decertification vote under NLRB rules.

Because New Jersey lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector workers, UAW officials have maintained contracts with Nissan management that require Oliver and his coworkers to pay union dues as a condition of keeping their jobs. In Right to Work states, in contrast, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary.

However, in both Right to Work and non-Right to Work states, union officials in a unionized workplace are empowered by federal law to impose a union contract on all employees in the work unit, including those who oppose the union. A successful decertification vote strips union officials of both their forced-dues and monopoly bargaining powers.

“UAW union officials haven’t bargained effectively or communicated well with me and my coworkers, and they have refused to inform us of bargaining developments,” commented Oliver. “Because New Jersey isn’t a Right to Work state and we can’t protect our paychecks from future deductions simply by opting out of dues payments, my coworkers and I are left with no choice but to throw out the UAW. We hope the NLRB will let us vote on the union without delay.”

Workers Across Country Growing Dissatisfied with UAW Agenda

Across the country, workers are choosing to affiliate with unions in record-low numbers, according to the most recent Gallup poll on the subject. In 2023, the UAW’s membership fell to its lowest level since 2009.

Workers are also increasingly attempting to exercise their right to vote out union officials they disapprove of. According to NLRB data, since 2020 decertification petition filings have gone up by over 40%. To resist this trend, the Biden NLRB is attempting to make it substantially more difficult for workers to decertify unions, and could soon issue a final rule invalidating the Election Protection Rule. The Election Protection Rule is a policy which contains multiple important safeguards regarding employees’ right to decertify unions they oppose.

“With UAW union bosses spending millions of dollars to expand their influence to nonunion facilities around the country, it’s important to remember that workers who have experienced UAW officials’ ‘representation’ often end up resenting it,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “In addition to these Nissan employees seeking to decertify the UAW, autoworkers recently protested outside UAW headquarters, saying UAW President Shawn Fain’s lies led to them losing their jobs.

“These situations show why workers must have the unfettered right to vote out unions they disapprove of, and Foundation attorneys will fight for individual workers to defend that right and will challenge top-down attempts by the Biden NLRB to restrict that right,” Mix added.

2 Apr 2024

Ontario, CA-Based Dependable Highway Express Employees Force Out Teamsters Local 63 Union Officials

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Tension escalated between workers and union after Teamsters officials threatened termination of worker who revealed union boss salaries

Ontario, CA (April 2, 2024) – Following a majority-backed petition to remove the Teamsters union, employees at Los Angeles-based transportation company Dependable Highway Express have successfully ousted Teamsters Local 63 union officials from their workplace. John Cwiek, the employee who led his coworkers in the effort to remove the union, received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

Cwiek filed a union decertification petition in March, asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote at his workplace to determine if the Teamsters union should continue its control over Dependable Highway Express employees. The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law, which includes administering elections to install (or “certify”) and remove (or “decertify”) unions.

Cwiek’s petition contained signatures from a nearly 2-1 majority of employees at Dependable Highway Express’ Ontario location, far more than the 30% needed to trigger a vote under NLRB rules. However, before the NLRB could hold a decertification vote, Teamsters officials filed a “disclaimer of interest” announcing they were ending their “representation” of the work unit.

Because California lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector workers, Teamsters union officials had the power to force Cwiek and his colleagues to pay fees to the union as a condition of keeping their jobs. In Right to Work states, in contrast, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary. Following the disclaimer, Cwiek and his coworkers are now free of the union’s forced-dues demands and its control over their working conditions.

Ontario Trucking Employee Faced Retaliation for Revealing Union Boss Salaries

Prior to their ouster, Teamsters union officials stirred tension in the workplace by threatening Cwiek, who in January sent letters to his coworkers containing publicly-available Department of Labor data on Teamsters bosses’ salaries. In retaliation for Cwiek sending the letters, a union official appeared at Cwiek’s workplace the next day, made accusations against him, and threatened that Cwiek wouldn’t be working at Dependable Highway Express by the next contract period.

These types of threats are illegal under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which protects employee speech critical of union officials, and protects employees’ right to refrain from union activities if they so choose. With Foundation aid, Cwiek separately filed federal charges against Teamsters Local 63 in February over this behavior. That charge was dropped in light of the union’s disclaimer of interest, and Cwiek remains employed at Dependable Highway Express.

“I am deeply troubled by the blatant retaliatory actions taken by officials at Teamsters Local 63 in response to expressing the views of myself and several other hard-working drivers at Dependable Highway Express,” Cwiek commented at the time. “We will not be deterred by their bullying tactics and the baseless accusations they levy against myself and others.

“I hope that the actions of the officials from Teamsters Local 63 serve as a clear example to my colleagues that the union cannot dispute the facts of their incompetence in representing us, so they must resort to intimidation and slanderous accusations,” Cwiek added. “We will remain steadfast in our pursuit of a better future for ourselves and our families.”

SoCal Teamsters Officials Have Penchant for Threatening Workers

National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys are currently helping other transportation industry employees in Southern California oppose unwanted Teamsters union influence. The NLRB recently issued a complaint against Teamsters Local 848 union officials at Savage Services’ Long Beach facility, where employee Victor Avila filed federal charges against union bosses for threatening him and his coworkers with violence for not supporting the union. The complaint begins the NLRB’s formal prosecution of the union for its malfeasance.

“Mr. Cwiek’s battle and the struggles of other transportation workers across Southern California show exactly why Right to Work protections are so necessary,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While it’s illegal to threaten workers for opposing the union or merely revealing truthful information, workers should never be forced to pay a union hierarchy that perpetrates such threats. On a more fundamental level, however, the choice should be completely with individual workers as to whether union officials have earned a cut of their hard-earned paychecks.”

21 Mar 2024

Jewish MIT Graduate Students Slam BDS-Linked Union with Federal Discrimination Charges

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Students assert their rights under Civil Rights Act by requesting religious exemptions from funding union, but union officials continue to demand dues payments

Boston, MA (March 21, 2024) – Graduate students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have filed federal discrimination charges against the United Electrical Workers (UE) and MIT Graduate Students Union (GSU), stating that union officials have illegally denied their requests for religious accommodations to the forced payment of union dues. The students submitted their charges at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

The students, William Sussman, Joshua Fried, Akiva Gordon, Tamar Kadosh Zhitomirsky, and Adina Bechhofer, are Jewish and conduct various research activities for professors at MIT. For example, Sussman is earning his PhD in Computer Science at MIT. He is also President of MIT Graduate Hillel, is a member of the MIT Israel Alliance, and has family in Israel.

The university students object to the union’s anti-Semitic advocacy, including the union’s endorsement of the anti-Israel “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) movement. Each of the EEOC charges state that the union is “discriminating against me based on a failure to accommodate my religious beliefs and cultural heritage” and “discriminating against me based on national origin, race, cultural heritage & identity.”

The students sent individual letters asserting their religious objections to supporting the union and asserting their rights to religious accommodations, but union officials brazenly rejected each request and continue to demand dues from the students.

Union officials’ form letter denying the students’ requested religious accommodations explained Judaism to these Jewish students, callously claiming “no principles, teachings or tenets of Judaism prohibit membership in or the payment of dues or fees to a labor union.” The union also attempted to justify its position on the grounds that a founder of GSU’s parent union was himself Jewish.

“Jewish graduate students are a minority. We cannot remove our union, and we cannot talk them out of their antisemitic position — we’ve tried,” said Sussman. “That is why many of us asked for a religious accommodation. But instead of respecting our rights, the union told me they understand my faith better than I do.”

Religious Accommodations Are Required Under Title VII

Because Massachusetts lacks Right to Work protections, union officials in the private sector (which includes private educational institutions like MIT) generally have the power to compel those under their monopoly bargaining power to pay union dues or fees. However, as per Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, religious accommodations to payment of dues or fees must be provided to those with sincere religious objections.

For decades, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have successfully represented religious objectors in cases opposing forced dues. While religious accommodations in these cases have varied, all of them forbid union bosses from demanding the worker pay any more money to the union.

If the EEOC finds merit to the students’ charges of discrimination, the agency will either take legal action against the union itself, or will issue a “right to sue” letter to the students, which will entitle them to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the union in federal court. Because MIT has a contract with this union and is also involved in enforcing the union’s dues demands on the students, Foundation attorneys sent a letter to MIT President Sally Kornbluth, notifying her of the EEOC charges and warning that the university will face similar charges if it does not promptly remedy the situation. MIT is already under fire in Congress and elsewhere due to its treatment of Jewish students in the face of widespread harassment.

Jewish Grad Student Already Won Federal Labor Board Case Against GSU Union Related to Dues

Sussman already dealt a blow against GSU officials in late February, when he forced union officials to settle federal charges he filed at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) concerning the union’s dues demands. In those charges, Sussman invoked his right under the Right to Work Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision, which prevents union officials from forcing those under their control to pay dues for anything beyond the union’s core bargaining functions.

While the settlement required GSU union officials to send an email to all students under their control stating that they would now follow Beck, Sussman and his fellow students’ current EEOC case seeks to cut off all financial support to the union, as is their right under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

“GSU union officials appear blinded by their political agenda and their desire to extract forced dues,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Their idea of ‘representation’ apparently includes forcing Jewish graduate students to pay money to a union the students believe has relentlessly denigrated their religious and cultural identity, all during a time when anti-Semitism is ripping across our nation and world.

“GSU union bosses’ refusal to grant these students religious accommodations is as illegal as it is unconscionable, and Foundation attorneys will fight for their freedom from this tyrannical union hierarchy,” Mix added.

20 Mar 2024

Ohio Kroger Employee Slams UFCW and Kroger with Federal Charges for Illegally Seizing Money from Paycheck

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Union officials threatened that employee would be fired for not signing illegal dues deduction authorization form, Kroger still taking dues from employee’s paycheck

Fairfield, OH (March 20, 2024) – An employee of Kroger’s location in the Fairfield Center Mall Shopping Center has hit the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 75 union with federal charges, stating that union officials threatened him with termination for refusing to sign an illegal union membership form. Kroger is also the subject of a charge for illegally transferring dues money from the employee’s paycheck to the union.

The worker, James Carroll, submitted his charges at Region 9 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Cincinnati with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation.

Carroll’s charges explain that the form UFCW union bosses forced him to sign is an illegal “dual purpose” membership form, which seeks only one employee signature for authorization of both union membership and dues deductions. Federal labor law requires that any authorization for union dues deductions be voluntary and separate from a union membership application. Additionally, Supreme Court precedents like General Motors v. NLRB recognize the right of workers to refrain from union membership.

However, because Ohio lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector workers, UFCW union officials have the power to impose contracts that force Carroll and his coworkers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of keeping a job, even if they are nonmembers. However, union officials must always seek employees’ explicit consent before instructing an employer to deduct union dues directly from a worker’s paycheck, and forced-dues amounts can never include money that goes toward a union’s political activity, as per the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision. In Right to Work states, union dues payment is strictly voluntary.

At UFCW officials’ behest, Kroger has continued to seize full union dues from Carroll’s paycheck despite his lack of consent. Because Kroger management is complicit in assisting union agents in enforcing their illegal scheme, Carroll has also filed federal charges against Kroger.

On Illegal Dues Practices, Kroger and UFCW Are Repeat Offenders

This isn’t the first time Foundation attorneys have aided Kroger employees facing illegal dual-purpose membership forms pushed by UFCW union bosses. In February 2023, Houston, TX-area Kroger worker Jessica Haefner filed federal charges against the UFCW for presenting her with such a dual-purpose form, and for altering her writing on the form to show she consented to union dues deductions when she was actually trying to exercise her right under Texas’ Right to Work law to abstain from dues payment.

In 2023, Foundation attorneys also assisted a Pittsburgh-area teen file federal discrimination charges against a UFCW local after union officials illegally refused to consider his religious objections to paying union dues.

“Federal law protects the right of workers to make free choices about formal union membership, and gives workers in non-Right to Work states like Ohio some ability to avoid paying for union politics and other union expenditures. But union bosses bent on obtaining greater control over workers and their pocketbooks pose real-life obstacles to exercising these rights, as do complicit employers like Kroger,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “We’re proud to help Mr. Carroll defend his rights, but ultimately Ohio workers need the protection of a Right to Work law.”

14 Mar 2024

Medieval Times Performers Banish Union Officials from Buena Park, CA, and Lyndhurst, NJ, Castles

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Union officials pushed unpopular strikes, now disclaim interest instead of remaining in work units where majority of workers requested ouster elections

Washington, DC (March 14, 2023) – Performers at dinner theater concept Medieval Times’ locations in Buena Park, CA, and Lyndhurst, NJ, have claimed victory as American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA) union officials submitted paperwork declaring they will abandon both workplaces. The AGVA union’s “disclaimers of interest” come after majorities of actors from both locations backed petitions asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold elections on whether to remove the AGVA union. Artemisia Morley and Michelle Dean submitted the union “decertification petitions” on behalf of performers at the New Jersey and California locations, respectively.

Both Morley and Dean received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation in navigating the NLRB’s union decertification process. The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law, which includes administering elections to install (or “certify”) and remove (or “decertify”) unions. Both Morley’s and Dean’s petitions contained signatures from a majority of employees at their respective locations.

AGVA union officials attempted to block the New Jersey decertification vote by filing “blocking charges,” which are often-unrelated allegations against management meant to derail a vote. However, AGVA union officials in both New Jersey and California eventually chose to withdraw from the workplaces as opposed to fighting Foundation attorneys at the NLRB. In New Jersey, AGVA union officials departed before the decertification vote could take place, likely to avoid an embarrassing outcome.

Because California and New Jersey lack Right to Work protections for their private sector workers, AGVA union bosses had the power to enter into contracts with Medieval Times management that would have required employees to pay union dues or fees just to keep their jobs. In contrast, in Right to Work states, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary.

However, in both non-Right to Work states and Right to Work states, union bosses have power over the working conditions of every employee in a unionized workplace, including those who don’t support the union. A successful decertification effort strips union officials of that monopoly bargaining power.

AGVA Union Officials Tried to Use Strikes to Gain Power, but Only Angered Workers

AGVA union officials advocated for, or ordered, unpopular strikes at both the California and New Jersey Medieval Times locations around when each decertification petition was submitted. Filings in Morley’s NLRB case indicated that AGVA union officials were “secretive, self-interested, and divisive,” and continuously advocated a strike despite disapproval from workers at the Lyndhurst, NJ, castle.

Similarly, AGVA union officials called off a roughly nine-month-long strike at the Buena Park, CA, Medieval Times just before Dean filed her decertification petition.

The tide substantially turned against AGVA union officials in New Jersey after Morley’s Foundation attorneys successfully challenged a decision from an NLRB Regional Director that halted the Lyndhurst decertification vote based on union officials’ “blocking charges.” The NLRB in Washington, DC, ordered that a hearing be held to determine whether union bosses’ “blocking charges” had anything to do with employee discontent with the union, but AGVA disclaimed interest before the hearing could occur.

Employees Across U.S. Seeking Freedom from Union Control

Across the country, workers are increasingly attempting to exercise their right to vote out union officials they disapprove of. According to NLRB data, since 2020 decertification petition filings have gone up by over 40%. Despite this trend, the Biden NLRB is attempting to make it substantially more difficult for workers to decertify unions, and could soon issue a final rule invalidating the Election Protection Rule, a policy which contains multiple important safeguards regarding employees’ right to decertify unions they oppose.

“AGVA union officials treated each Medieval Times castle as their own personal fiefdom, but their actions led to an uprising of the rank-and-file they purported to ‘represent,’” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While the wishes of the Medieval Times performers have been obtained, it should be remembered that workers all over the country are subjected to union control they oppose.”

13 Mar 2024

Palo Alto Medical Foundation Nurses Vote Union Out at Sunnyvale and Mountain View Facilities

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Victory continues string of successful union decertification attempts by healthcare workers across the country

Palo Alto, CA (March 13, 2024) – Nurses from Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s locations in Sunnyvale and Mountain View, CA, have exercised their right to remove unwanted International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) union officials from power at their workplaces. The ouster is the result of the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) March 8 certification of an election in which nearly 60% of participating nurses from Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s infusion facilities voted to end the union’s presence in the workplace.

Nurse Malgorzata Nepali spearheaded the effort to remove the union by submitting union decertification petitions to the NLRB in December 2023 and February 2024 with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Her petitions contained sufficient signatures from her fellow nurses to trigger a union decertification vote under NLRB rules. The NLRB held the election in person over February 28 and 29.

Because California lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector employees, union officials can impose contracts that force workers to pay union dues or fees just to get or keep a job. Union officials also enjoy monopoly bargaining power that permits them to impose a union contract on all employees in a work unit, including those who oppose the union. A successful decertification vote strips union officials of both forced-dues power and monopoly bargaining privileges.

IFPTE Union Officials Tried to Trap Nurses in Union, But Ultimately Failed

Nepali and her coworkers’ effort to oust the union hit a snag when IFPTE bosses argued that her December 2023 petition should be tossed out pursuant to a so-called “contract bar.” The contract bar is a non-statutory NLRB policy that blocks employees from exercising their right to vote out unwanted union officials for up to three years after union officials and management finalize a contract.

Nepali’s Foundation-provided attorneys argued in a brief that the contracts offered by the union as evidence the contract bar should apply lacked fundamental elements. Additionally, Nepali submitted a new petition in February 2024 outside the time window of the union’s claimed contract bar. NLRB Region 32 eventually ordered that the election should proceed on the basis of Nepali’s second petition.

Healthcare Employees Across U.S. Seeking Freedom from Union Control

Across the country, workers are increasingly attempting to exercise their right to vote out union officials they disapprove of. According to NLRB data, since 2020 decertification petition filings have gone up by over 40%. To resist this trend, the Biden NLRB is attempting to make it substantially more difficult for workers to decertify unions, and could soon issue a final rule invalidating the Election Protection Rule. The Election Protection Rule is a policy which contains multiple important safeguards regarding employees’ right to decertify unions they oppose.

Healthcare employees across America have led a string of recent successful union decertification efforts with Foundation legal aid. In December 2023, support staff from St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children voted American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union officials out of a work unit comprising 270+ employees. Also in December, support staff at Mayo Clinic’s location in Austin, MN, forced Steelworkers union officials out of their facility, which followed other Foundation-backed union ousters in Mankato, MN, and St. James, MN.

“We at the Foundation are proud to help Ms. Nepali and healthcare workers all across the country exercise their right to vote out union officials that don’t represent their interests,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While this victory is encouraging, IFPTE union officials tried to manipulate the ‘contract bar’ to foist their control on the nurses despite their clear intentions to oust the union. This shows that there are anti-worker restrictions heavily ingrained in NLRB case law that should be nixed.

“That situation isn’t helped by the fact that the Biden NLRB is seeking to place even greater restrictions on workers’ right to decertify unions, but Foundation attorneys will keep fighting at the NLRB for workers’ free choice,” Mix added.

11 Mar 2024

Philly-Area Dometic Employees Slam UAW Union with Federal Charges for Illegal Threats Linked to Strike

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Union steward threatened to fine and terminate any employee who chose to work during strike, seized money illegally from workers

Philadelphia, PA (March 11, 2024) – Seven employees of auto accessory manufacturer Dometic’s Philadelphia-area factory have filed federal charges against the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 644 union, maintaining that union officials ignored their requests to resign union membership during a strike, and are now unlawfully imposing internal union discipline on them. The workers, Nancy Powelson, Eric Angell, Joseph Buchak, Mario Coccie, Md Rasidul Islam, James Nold, and Robert Haldeman, filed their charges at National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 4 with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the federal law that governs private sector labor relations in the United States. Under the NLRA, American private sector workers have a right to refrain from union activity, and the U.S. Supreme Court recognized in General Motors v. NLRB the right of employees to resign union membership during a strike.

All seven workers report in their unfair labor practice charges that a union steward told each of them during a September 8, 2023, meeting that a strike would begin the following week and any employee who crossed the picket line during the strike would be subject to internal union charges, fined, and ultimately terminated.

In October, each of the seven employees exercised their right to resign union membership, and returned to work shortly after doing so. However, on December 10, 2023, UAW union officials notified each worker that the union had started proceedings against them and their presence would soon be required at an internal union trial.

“The Union’s act of summoning Charging Party to attend an internal Union trial for post-resignation conduct interferes, restrains and coerces Charging Party in the exercise of…[NLRA] Section 7 rights, in violation of Teamsters Local 492 (United Parcel Service)…and Section 8(b)(1),” the employees’ charges explain.

After Threatening Illegal Discipline, Union Bosses Seized Money Illegally from Workers

According to the employees’ charges, UAW union bosses’ illegal behavior continued into the new year. Between October 2023 and January 2024, each worker invoked their right under the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision, asking the UAW to reduce their dues payments to only the amount that the union claims goes toward bargaining.

Because Pennsylvania lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector employees, union officials can impose contracts that force workers who have refrained from formal union membership to pay fees to the union as a condition of employment. However, as per Beck, this fee must exclude any money that funds a union’s political or lobbying activities, and can only include bargaining-related expenses. Beck also requires union officials to provide financial disclosures to workers who send a Beck notice.

Each charge states that “the [u]nion failed to respond or provide the required [Beck] financial disclosures for itself and its affiliated unions,” which is a violation of the NLRA.

UAW Union Officials Seek to Expand Power Despite Controversies

“The UAW is a repeat offender when it comes to union officials prioritizing their own power over the freedoms and well-being of workers,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While we’re happy to help these Pennsylvania employees of Dometic, it’s likely the case that many more workers under UAW control across the country face similar illegal threats and rights violations.

“The UAW, which was also entangled in a years-long federal probe for embezzling workers’ money as recently as 2022, is currently spending millions to attempt to expand their monopoly bargaining power over additional workers,” Mix added. “Workers targeted by UAW officials for unionization have plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the union hierarchy’s motives and should seek Foundation aid in learning about and defending their rights.”

5 Mar 2024

Tennessee AT&T Workers Force Unwanted CWA Union Bosses Out of Workplace Following Union ‘Card Check’

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After union lawyers’ attempt to get the NLRB to block the vote failed, union bosses backed down and departed workplace rather than face workers’ vote

Tennessee (March 5, 2024) – Denis Hodzic, an In Home Sales Expert of AT&T Mobility Tennessee, and his coworkers have successfully pushed unwanted Communications Workers of America (CWA) union officials out of power.

The union ouster follows Hodzic’s submission of a “decertification petition” backed by his fellow employees, which asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote to remove (or decertify) the union for AT&T Mobility In Home Sales Experts throughout Tennessee. Hodzic received free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.

The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law, which includes administering votes to certify and decertify unions. Hodzic, who collected signatures from a majority of his coworkers (more than enough to trigger a decertification vote under NLRB rules), filed his decertification petition in December 2023 to challenge a so-called “card check” unionization scheme by CWA union bosses.

Last month, an NLRB Regional Director rejected union officials’ objections to the petition and ruled that a decertification election should go forward. However, before the vote could occur, CWA union officials filed paperwork disclaiming interest in continuing their control over the workers – likely to avoid an embarrassing rejection by employees at the ballot box.

Had Hodzic and his coworkers’ effort not succeeded, NLRB documents indicate that they would have been integrated into a nationwide bargaining unit comprised of thousands of employees, which would have made decertifying the union virtually impossible.

Because Tennessee is a Right to Work state, CWA union officials never had the power to force Hodzic and his colleagues to pay union dues or join the union as a condition of employment. However, even in Right to Work states, union officials can still force their one-size-fits-all contracts on all employees in a work unit, even those who oppose the union. A successful decertification election ends this monopoly bargaining power.

Biden NLRB Cracking Down on Employees’ Right to Vote in Secret on Union ‘Representation’

Under a card check, union officials can bypass the secret-ballot election process, which is the most secure and reliable way to determine if employees want to unionize. During a card check drive, union officials can engage in face-to-face interactions with employees and demand they sign union authorization cards, making the process a breeding ground for coercive and intimidating tactics. Even AFL-CIO organizing guidelines admit that employees often sign cards during a card check to “get the union off my back.”

Though union officials successfully gained control via card check, Hodzic was able to petition for a decertification vote to overturn the result thanks to the Right to Work Foundation-backed 2020 reforms to NLRB rules.

Collectively referred to as the “Election Protection Rule,” the reforms permit employees to submit decertification petitions within a 45-day window after the finalization of a card check. The Election Protection Rule also prevents union officials from manipulating charges they file alleging employer misconduct to block workers from casting ballots in a decertification election, among other things.

Unfortunately, the NLRB in Washington, DC, has begun rulemaking to undo the Election Protection Rule, which will make it much harder for employees to challenge card check drives. This is just one of several aggressive moves by the Biden NLRB to give union officials greater power to corral workers into unions, while limiting workers’ rights to get rid of unpopular unions.

Recently, the NLRB issued the Cemex decision, which gives union officials greatly expanded power to overturn elections that don’t go in their favor if an employer requests such an election to challenge a card check.

“Despite claiming to speak for workers, union bosses and their allies in the Biden NLRB seem to be intent on further constricting workers’ ability to have secure, private votes on whether union bosses deserve to have control over their working lives,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Mr. Hodzic and his coworkers’ victory should serve as a reminder that ‘card check’ is not a reliable indicator of employee support for a union, and that giving this process priority over secret ballot elections will trap more workers under union boss control against their will.”

1 Mar 2024

Albany Starbucks Employees Seek Vote to Kick Out SBWU Union

Posted in News Releases

“This isn’t what we signed up for” says NY worker who joins Starbucks partners across the country in demanding union ousters

Albany, NY (March 1, 2024) – A partner of the Stuyvesant Plaza Starbucks in Albany has filed a petition with National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 3, asking the federal agency to hold a vote at her workplace to remove (or “decertify”) the Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) union. The employee, Rayghan Dowey, received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation in submitting her petition.

“This isn’t what we signed up for, a new team has started to come in [to the Stuyvesant Plaza Starbucks] and we want to make sure that the voice that was once heard is still being heard two years later,” commented Dowey regarding the union. “We want to bring the inclusivity, community, and culture back. The culture we once had, that we were promised to get back, we never got to see.”

Dowey’s petition contains signatures from enough coworkers at her store to trigger a decertification vote under NLRB rules. Because New York lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector workers, SBWU union bosses can enter into contracts that compel Dowey and her coworkers to pay union dues as a condition of keeping their jobs. In Right to Work states, in contrast, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary.

However, in both Right to Work and non-Right to Work states, union officials in a unionized workplace are empowered by federal law to impose a union contract on all employees in a work unit, including those who oppose the union. A successful decertification vote strips union officials of that power.

Amid Growing Requests to Remove SBWU, Starbucks Workers Also Challenge NLRB Authority

Dowey and her colleagues join Starbucks partners and other coffee company employees across the country in banding together to vote out SBWU union officials. In the past year, Starbucks employees in Manhattan, NY; two Buffalo, NY locations; Pittsburgh, PA; Bloomington, MN; Salt Lake City, UT; Greenville, SC; Oklahoma City, OK; San Antonio, TX; and Philadelphia, PA, have all sought free Foundation legal aid in filing or defending decertification petitions at the NLRB. Foundation attorneys have helped employees at independent Philadelphia coffee shops Good Karma Café and Ultimo Coffee successfully oust Workers United union officials, who are affiliated with SBWU.

Many employees of Starbucks or other coffee establishments are requesting decertification votes from the NLRB roughly one year after union bosses attained power in their workplaces, which is the earliest opportunity afforded by federal law to do so. Starbucks employees in particular were the targets of a multi-year, aggressive unionization campaign by SBWU, in which the union spent millions on paid union agents – including “salts” who obtained jobs at Starbucks locations with the covert mission of installing union power.

However, rather than respect the choice of workers opposed to the union, SBWU union officials are attempting to prevent Starbucks workers nationwide from exercising their right to decertify the union with charges against Starbucks management that are currently holding up the elections. Currently, Foundation staff attorneys are representing workers in about a dozen Starbucks stores seeking decertification votes.

NLRB Request for Review: Region Violating Starbucks Workers’ Rights by Blocking Vote

In fact, Foundation attorneys just filed a request for review with the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, DC, for Indya Fiessinger, a Starbucks employee at a Salt Lake City-area location who filed a petition for a decertification vote. The brief argues an NLRB Regional Director incorrectly applied federal law to block the decertification election requested by the workers at the store, and refused to even hold a hearing on the matter.

Foundation attorneys are also representing Buffalo, NY, and San Antonio, TX, Starbucks workers in challenging the NLRB as an unconstitutionally-structured federal agency. In two federal lawsuits now at the district court level, Starbucks employees argue that NLRB bureaucrats’ removal protections shield them from accountability in violation of separation of powers doctrines in the Constitution.

“Despite the wave of Starbucks workers who want to exercise their right to free themselves from unwanted union representation, SBWU union officials are twisting the law to trap workers under the union’s influence against their will,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Federal labor law should protect workers who want to exercise their free choice rights, not power-hungry union bosses, and Foundation attorneys are proud to represent Ms. Dowey and other Starbucks workers who oppose SBWU officials’ coercive reign.”

29 Feb 2024

Right to Work Foundation SCOTUS Brief: Workers Exercising Right to Oppose Unions Isn’t “Harm” to Be Eliminated

Posted in News Releases

In case to be heard by Court, Foundation argues NLRB wrongly asserts that independent-minded opposition to unions can justify injunctions

Washington, DC (February 29, 2024) – The National Right to Work Foundation has filed an amicus brief in Starbucks Corporation v. McKinney, a case set to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court later this term that has major implications for the rights of workers who oppose union power in their workplaces.

In the brief, Foundation staff attorneys argue that federal courts should reject National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requests for preliminary injunctions when the Labor Board claims employee discontent with a union is a “harm” that should be redressed. These injunctions, called 10(j) injunctions, are frequently used by the NLRB to force employers into certain union-demanded behavior, despite the NLRB not having fully adjudicated the underlying union allegations.

The brief points out that an employee’s decision not to support a union is not a harm that needs to be addressed, but rather a “legitimate choice employees have a right to make” under both the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the First Amendment to the Constitution.

“Only if the NLRB can prove an employee was coerced by an employer to oppose a union against his or her will can that employee’s lack of support for the union be considered any sort of a harm to be redressed,” the brief says. “If the NLRB cannot muster such evidence, then the fact that employees are exercising their statutory and constitutional rights…provides no basis for [an] injunction.”

Foundation: Courts Shouldn’t Accept NLRB’s Assumption that Workers Want to Join Unions

In the Starbucks v. McKinney case, the NLRB sought an injunction at the behest of Starbucks Workers United (SBWU-SEIU) union officials against Starbucks for unfair labor practices the company allegedly committed at a location in Memphis, Tennessee. A major reason cited by the NLRB for the requested injunction was the fact that workers may choose to oppose the union if the injunction isn’t issued.

The case presents the question of what standard courts should use when evaluating whether to grant NLRB-requested injunctions under the NLRA. The Foundation brief opposes the lax standard that the NLRB and union officials are urging courts to use when deciding whether to issue injunctions.

That standard asks only whether alleged unfair labor practices could potentially coerce workers into not supporting a union. Foundation attorneys argue that “the Court must require the NLRB to prove employees were unlawfully coerced not to support a union because, absent such proof, employees have every right to make that choice” (emphasis added).

Foundation-Backed Starbucks Workers Disprove Specious NLRB Theory

Foundation staff attorneys are currently representing Starbucks employees at several locations across the country who seek to vote out (or “decertify”) the SBWU union. In the brief, Foundation attorneys point out that the NLRB in a similar case (Leslie v. Starbucks Corp.) cited a Foundation-backed union decertification case as a reason that an injunction should be issued against the company – despite the fact that the workers themselves say their opposition to the union had nothing to do with the conduct the union was challenging in that case.

“In taking this position, the NLRB has created a self-satisfying ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ dynamic for itself,” the brief reads. “Evidence that employees support a union is taken to mean they want to support the union. Evidence that employees oppose a union is taken to mean their employer must have wrongfully caused the employees not to support the union. All evidence conveniently leads to the conclusion desired by current NLRB leadership: employees should support unions.”

The case is set to be argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 23, with a decision expected by the end of the High Court’s term in June.

“The Biden NLRB is working hand in glove with unions to advance a standard that treats worker dissent from unions as a harm to be eradicated, rather than a decision made by competent adults,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The Supreme Court in Starbucks v. McKinney must reject the idea that NLRB bureaucrats can simply twist evidence of legitimate worker discontent with unions into a tool to aid union bosses in gaining leverage over businesses and employees.”