Washington, D.C. (February 28, 2002) – Fearing the White House may be buckling under pressure from union officials, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has delivered more than 57,000 grassroots petitions urging President Bush to appeal a U.S. District Court decision enjoining his executive order that requires federal contractors to inform employees of their right to withhold compulsory union dues spent for partisan politics.
“It is alarming the White House has not decided to fight to ensure that employees are able to exercise their political freedom,” stated Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Union officials are already spending millions of dollars in workers’ forced union dues on this fall’s congressional campaigns.”
Earlier this week, the AFL-CIO decided to hit America’s working families with another mandatory tax to pay for electioneering. This is the latest example of union operatives seizing compulsory dues to fund political activities, even as polls show that 62 percent of unionized employees object to this practice.
The deadline for the Bush Administration to appeal the court’s decision is March 4. The National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, who won the Supreme Court decision (Communications Workers v. Beck) that was the basis for the Executive Order 13201, filed as amicus curiae at the District Court level in defense of the Executive Order, and has promised to do so on appeal as well.
“Appealing the court’s decision is a fight on behalf of working people that the Bush Administration could win – if it has the courage to show up,” said Gleason.
Signed on February 17, 2001, Executive Order 13201 would affect a segment of the 12 million American employees compelled to pay union dues as a condition of employment, as it requires companies with federal contracts to inform workers of their rights under the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Communications Workers v. Beck.
In May 2001, a group of unions filed the case, known as UAW-Labor Employment and Training Corporation et al. v. Chao et al. Judge Henry H. Kennedy of the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia enjoined the implementation of the President’s directive on the grounds that the action was preempted by Congress – despite the fact that Bush’s Executive Order only seeks to enforce the Supreme Court’s interpretation of congressionally enacted law.
Washington, D.C. (February 27, 2002) – In response to the AFL-CIO’s decision at its New Orleans meeting this week to hit America’s working families with another mandatory tax to pay for electioneering, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced it intends to spend $1,000,000 to assist workers who object to paying for union political activities in 2002.
“According to polls, most rank-and-file workers object to Big Labor’s electioneering with their forced union dues,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “We intend to spend at least $1,000,000 to do everything possible through the courts and public information efforts to help workers reclaim their hard-earned money.”
Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Communications Workers v. Beck, a case won by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys in 1988, employees cannot be compelled to formally join a union or pay dues spent for politics or other activities unrelated to collective bargaining. Because of union officials’ routine and systematic non-compliance with the law, a vast majority of unionized employees still do not know they have these rights, polls show. In the past, workers who have sought to exercise these rights have been the victims of harassment and even violence.
“Backed by the purely voluntary financial support of tens of thousands of Americans, the National Right to Work Foundation does not have Big Labor’s resources. But we cannot allow union operatives to force America’s working people to serve as political ATM machines,” stated Gleason.
Though significant, the AFL-CIO’s political program is only the tip of the iceberg. The federation’s member unions collect a total of more than $10 billion in forced union dues annually, much of which is spent on politics.
In 2000, experts estimate that union political operatives spent $800 million, mostly taken from forced union dues, to support their handpicked candidates for public office. This money was used to support candidates and policies with which large numbers of union members disagree. For example, in 2000 more than 90 percent of Big Labor’s support went to Democrats, even though 40 percent of union households voted for George W. Bush. More recently union officials have ignored the majority of their members who support tax cuts and Social Security reform.
To schedule an interview with a Foundation spokesman contact Dan Cronin at 703-770-3317.
Richmond, Va. (February 25, 2002) — On Tuesday, February 26, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit hears arguments challenging a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that gives unions the right to force non-union employees across America to wear union badges on their uniforms as a condition of employment.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys brought the appeal for BellSouth Communications technicians Gary Lee and James Amburn of Charlotte, North Carolina, who were ordered to wear a Communications Workers of America (CWA) union logo patch in order to keep their jobs.
“No worker should be forced to be a walking billboard for a union he or she doesn’t support,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This case shows the extreme bias of the NLRB in favor of union coercion and against employee free speech.”
In 1997, the NLRB’s General Counsel issued a complaint against the CWA and BellSouth for unfair labor practices. The complaint agreed with Foundation attorneys’ arguments that forcing non-members to wear the CWA union logo violates their right to refrain from union activity, and that the logo gave the false appearance that non-members belonged to or supported the union. (The employees exercised their right not to join the union under North Carolina’s highly popular Right to Work law.)
However, in a decision filled with tortured legal reasoning, late last year the NLRB in Washington, DC, ruled that BellSouth’s uniform policy requiring the patch was a “special circumstance,” which trumped the statutory right of workers to refrain from supporting the union.
Court Allows 3,200 California Engineers to Challenge Union Funding of Ballot Initiatives and Politics
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (February 25, 2002) — By certifying a federal suit as a class action, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California has allowed 3,200 California state employees to challenge the money confiscated for politics and other activities by the Davis Administration and Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG) union officials.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys filed the class-action suit, Wagner v. PECG, in September 1999 on behalf of Richard Wagner, an investigator for the California Air Resources Board in the Sacramento area, and Kristin Schwall, a water quality engineer from San Diego. They filed the complaint on behalf of all non-member government workers under the PECG’s statewide memorandum of understanding (MOU) – also known as a collective bargaining agreement – who have been illegally forced to pay for union political activities.
On April 1, 1999, then newly elected Governor Gray Davis signed the MOU which forced all workers under the agreement to pay illegally high dues to PECG union officials.
“Governor Davis has done everything possible to payoff California’s union officials, at the expense of the working men and women of this state,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, which is providing free legal aid to the California employees.
The PECG is one of California’s most politically active unions. Union bosses have seized union dues and used them to fund its ballot initiatives and other political activities. According to the union’s own records, it has been estimated that over one-third of PECG’s $3.2 million annual budget is used for political activities.
According to the constitutional protections construed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-won decisions of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, the union may not collect compulsory dues spent on activities unrelated to collective bargaining. Politics, lobbying, organizing, public relations, and other non-bargaining activities are explicitly non-chargeable to employees who have exercised their right to refrain from union membership.
The employees are asking the court to provide the abused workers with retroactive refunds, with interest, on all dues illegally collected since April 1, 1999.
If you are a nonmember paying agency fees to the International Association of Machinists (IAM) union, you may be entitled to demand a refund if you have paid “reinstatement fees” to the union.
The story is this: Anthony Lutz is a customer service agent employed by United Air Lines. He works under a union contract negotiated by the IAM union, but is not a member of the union and pays only reduced agency fees. For three months in the fall of 2001, Mr. Lutz took an unpaid medical leave of absence from United. After he returned from his leave of absence, an IAM union official twice threatened him with discharge unless he paid a “reinstatement fee” of more than $100 to the union. One demand letter from the union official specifically noted that if Mr. Lutz had been a full member of the IAM, he would not have had to pay this “reinstatement fee” as a condition of employment, because the union would have issued “unemployment stamps” to him. (That would have exempted him from paying this “reinstatement fee.”) But, since he was not a union member, Mr. Lutz was told that he could not participate in the “benefit” of unemployment stamps, and therefore had to “pay up” or be fired.
When Mr. Lutz informed the union officials that his lawyers at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation were preparing to file a federal court lawsuit against the IAM union, an official of IAM’s “Capital Air Lodge 1759” suddenly retracted her “reinstatement fee” demand. The retraction effectively conceded that Mr. Lutz legally could not be charged the fee.
Did this or something similar happen to you” If you have paid such “reinstatement fees” to the Machinists union under similar circumstances in the past, or are being threatened with having to pay such fees, please contact us so we can discuss with you your legal rights.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
8001 Braddock Rd.
Springfield, VA 22160
San Francisco, Calif. (February 14, 2002) – This morning the United States Ninth Circuit Court hears arguments in the challenge to a new state law that passes judgment on professors’ religious beliefs when they object to supporting a union.
The court will decide if the professors may challenge a California statute that forces all California State University (CSU) professors to pay union dues unless they are a member of a state- approved religion. State and union officials are given the power to pass judgment on the acceptability of the religious beliefs of CSU employees. In the complaint, the professors challenge the “religious objector” language because it violates their freedom of association protected by the First Amendment.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys filed the class-action suit, Baird et al. v. CFA, in February 2000 against the California Faculty Association (CFA) union on behalf of 14,000 CSU professors who object to having more than $8.5 million in forced dues seized from their paychecks under a new compulsory unionism law. If the court rules in the professors’ favor, the case will be remanded to the federal court in Sacramento.
“It is outrageous that union officials and state bureaucrats get to play God and decide which religions are approved and which are not,” said Stefan Gleason Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “If someone has a sincere religious objection to supporting a union thought to be immoral, his or her rights should be respected.”
Pushed through to its passage by union lobbyists, California’s faculty forced-dues law requires that the 14,000 non-union professors must either quit their jobs or pay about $600 annually each to a union whose agenda they do not support.
“We hope the court will respect the First Amendment rights of California’s educators and overturn this offensive law,” stated Gleason.
The professors argue also that the new forced-unionism law discriminates against non-union higher education employees and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
The complaint also explains how the law violates the First Amendment rights of university employees, as established by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-won case of Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, by explicitly authorizing union officials to seize compulsory dues for lobbying activities. In Lehnert, the Court ruled unequivocally that the “State constitutionally may not compel its employees to subsidize legislative lobbying.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 11, 2002) — The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the Bush administration’s appeal of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia’s decision to strike down a pro-worker Executive Order. The President issued Executive Order 13202 to ban union-only contracts, or project labor agreements (PLAs), on federally funded construction projects.
In their “Friend of the Court” brief, filed jointly (pursuant to court rules) with Associated Builders and Contractors and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Foundation attorneys argue that President Bush acted within his constitutional authority by issuing the Executive Order banning union-only contracts.
“It is wrong for the federal government to support a scheme that bilks taxpayers out of millions of dollars and deprives employees of their basic right to choose whether or not to affiliate with a union,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason.
A PLA is a scheme which requires that all contractors, whether they are unionized or not, subject themselves and their employees to unionization in order to work on government-funded construction projects. PLAs usually require contractors to grant union officials monopoly bargaining privileges over all workers; use exclusive union hiring halls; force workers to pay dues as a condition of employment; and pay above-market prices resulting from wasteful work rules and featherbedding.
More than 80 percent of American contractors and their employees have refrained from unionization.
“PLAs are nothing more than a shakedown — union officials use them to demand taxpayer handouts and government-granted special privileges in exchange for not ordering strikes or causing other disruptions,” said Gleason.
Oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will be held on May 10, 2002.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (February 7, 2002) — Responding to pressure brought by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) forced the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200 into a settlement of unfair labor practice charges brought by employees of the Marsellus Casket Company.
The case was filed by foundation attorneys for three company employees, Mark L. Miller, Scott Bayer, and David Sprague. The union had refused their resignations and forced them to continue to pay full union dues, including dues used for political, ideological, or other non-representational purposes.
SEIU Local 200 must refund the three employees’ dues and fees that were used for non-representational purposes. The settlement also forces the union to post a notice alerting workers and employees of the Marsellus Casket Company of their right to refrain from formal union membership and the payment of full union dues.
“The union has finally been forced to pay a price for its illegal practice of fleecing employees for political cash,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
As part of the settlement, SEIU officials must also notify objecting workers what percentage of their dues is being used to fund non-representational activities, including political activities. Under law, an employee may resign from formal union membership, pay a reduced fee, and further challenge the veracity of the union’s figures.
The case arose after SEIU officials violated the workers’ rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck, a case that Foundation attorneys argued and won, workers may halt and reclaim forced union dues spent on politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (February 7, 2002) — Richard Ohse and 60 other employees of the Carlon Corporation have won their long-running case against the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB) Local D465. Mr. Ohse, with the help of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to reclaim dues that had been illegally collected by the union and used to support political activities.
As a result of the NLRB’s ruling, IBB Local D465 officials will have paid out a total of $120,000 in full refunds of illegally seized dues, plus interest, to the 61 employees who were the beneficiaries of the complaint.
Mr. Ohse, and the other employees of the Carlon Corporation, have had to wait more than a decade for this ruling. The charge was first filed in 1991, but it took several years to force the Clinton NLRB to act on the matter.
“After all of these prosecutorial delays and the union’s stonewalling, these employees have finally been made whole,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “No matter how long union officials hold out, they cannot ultimately deny workers their fundamental rights.”
The case arose after IBB officials violated the workers’ rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck, a case that Foundation attorneys argued and won, workers who are not protected by a Right to Work law may resign from formal union memberships and halt and reclaim the portion of forced union dues spent on politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
Since Oklahoma only passed a Right to Work law on September 25, 2001, these employees were not protected from forced unionism. National Right to Work Foundation attorneys are also representing employees defending Oklahoma’s new Right to Work law from union attack.
Muskogee, Okla. (January 30, 2002) – Despite formal objections from the Oklahoma AFL-CIO, Judge Frank H. Seay has allowed three Oklahoma workers to join Governor Keating in defending Oklahoma’s new Right to Work constitutional amendment. Formally admitted yesterday as “defendant intervenors,” the workers are receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
The employees argue that, if the unions prevail in voiding the statewide ban on forced unionism, they will suffer direct financial harm as well as damage to their interests of free speech and free association.
“Big Labor fought the intervention of our clients because they are afraid to let the workers of Oklahoma speak for themselves. This ruling affirms that union bosses cannot muzzle workers,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “These employees deserve the right to speak out against the corruption and abuse created by compulsory unionism.”
The Oklahoma AFL-CIO, six local unions, and a heavily unionized company filed the suit last November in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma to overturn the will of Oklahoma’s voters, who enacted State Question 695 on September 25, 2001. The Right to Work constitutional amendment bans the widespread union practice of forcing workers to join an unwanted union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. Oklahoma is the newest of America’s 22 Right to Work states.
As “defendant intervenors,” the employees’ `can file briefs and Foundation attorneys can make arguments in court defending the employees’ financial and liberty interests at stake in the preservation of the Right to Work amendment. Meanwhile, Governor Keating’s primary legal responsibility is to protect the interest of the public at large in a law passed by electoral referendum.
The three employees are Kent Duvall of United Parcel Service, Michelle McKenzie of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, and Stephen Weese of Oklahoma Fixture Company.
Motions for summary judgment will be filed by the parties on or before January 31, 2002.