7 Nov 2003

Workers Hit Union with Charges to Block Imposition of Mandatory Dues on San Diego Public Workers

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San Diego, Calif. (November 7, 2003) — With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, two San Diego city employees have moved to block San Diego Municipal Employees Association (MEA) union officials from imposing mandatory union dues on local government workers through a mail-in ballot election, scheduled just after the union’s chief method of compelling employees to join the union was found to be illegal.

Simultaneously filing charges with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) and State Mediation and Conciliation Service (SMCS), police criminologist Tanya DuLaney and public information clerk Juanita Torres allege that MEA union officials have illegally promised to lower dues if the union institutes a forced-dues clause into its contract with the city. The charges also state that the “MEA and the City’s unremedied unfair labor practice taints the election process,” because a PERB administrative law judge recently found the union and employer are discriminating against nonmembers by denying them eye and dental coverage.

“MEA union officials are using this election as a last-ditch effort to corral San Diego public employees into union ranks,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Without the ability to illegally withhold benefits paid for by the employer, the union knows that many employees will have no use for the union and therefore resign and withhold financial support. This is an attempt to take away that option.”

DuLaney’s charges come on the heels of the City of San Diego’s decision to drop its appeal to the full PERB to uphold the union’s discriminatory health policy. A United States District Court decision also recently rejected an MEA union attempt to dismiss a federal action against the union for violating the First Amendment freedom of association rights of nonmembers.

The health benefits scheme, part of the Memorandum of Understanding between the union and the city, was designed to pressure employees into signing up as formal union members, thereby causing them to give up certain rights, including the ability to refrain from funding union political activities.

Mail-in ballots were sent to city workers in mid-October. The outcome of the election would affect more than 3,000 San Diego public employees.

7 Nov 2003

Teamsters Union Faces Second Round of Federal Charges for Illegal Dues Demands, While Government Prosecutes First Case

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Jeffersonville, Ind. (November 7, 2003) – A Jeffboat factory worker at the company plant outside Louisville, Kentucky, today filed a second round of federal charges against the Teamsters union for failing to provide employees with a legally mandated independent audit of both the local and international unions’ books and records.

Meanwhile, the government has decided to pursue a related case after finding that the union illegally demands that employees to sign union membership forms and agree to payroll deduction of union dues.

Enjoying free legal aid from attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation, Jeffboat worker Michael Bell filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Teamsters Union Local 89. Meanwhile, the NLRB has scheduled a January 14th hearing to prosecute the union for the earlier charges.

“Teamsters union officials have tried to make an example of Michael Bell so that other workers will think twice before defying their edicts,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This kind of abuse is inevitable until Kentucky passes a Right to Work law which would prohibit union officials from forcing employees to pay union dues in order to keep a job.”

In July 2002, Bell resigned his formal membership from the union and asserted his right to pay only a reduced fee to the union for its proven collective bargaining costs. Teamsters union officials retaliated by banning Bell from ever rejoining the union while continuing to demand that he pay dues and fees – a practice that the courts and the NLRB have repeatedly found to be illegal.

The actions of Teamsters union officials violate worker protections recognized by the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision. Under Beck, workers are allowed to resign from formal union membership and halt and reclaim the portion of forced union dues spent on activities unrelated to collective bargaining, such as politics, lobbying, organizing, and public relations.

5 Nov 2003

Union Hit with Federal Charges for Illegal Retaliation Against Non-Striking Yale-New Haven Hospital Workers

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New Haven, Conn. (November 5, 2003) — With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a group of food service workers at the Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) filed federal charges today against local union officials for illegal retaliation after employees honored their commitments to their employer and refused to walk off the job during a strike that began in August.

Thirteen YNHH food service employees, led by Arleen DeMaio, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the New England Health Care Employees Union District 1199, SEIU/AFL-CIO (NEHCU). The workers allege that union officials illegally refused to honor resignations from formal union membership and then illegally ordered them to appear before a union tribunal to accept formal discipline – possibly including monetary fines – for exercising their legally protected right to go to work during a strike.

“Employees should not be punished for disagreeing with a union’s self-serving strike and for continuing to do their jobs,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “These union officials have demanded that employees march in lock step with the union – or else.”

Union officials also are maintaining an illegal resignation scheme in the union’s bylaws in which workers wishing to resign must appear before a “chapter hearing board” to gain formal permission to resign their union memberships. The employees also allege that the union hierarchy has failed to inform all employees of their right to resign full membership and instead pay a reduced fee to the union.

The actions of NEHCU union officials violated workers’ protections recognized in the U.S. Supreme Court cases of Patternmakers v. NLRB and Communications Workers v. Beck. Under Patternmakers, union officials must allow employees to resign from formal union membership, at any time and without restriction. Union officials have no legal right to enforce internal union rules – including rules that require union members to strike – against nonunion members. Meanwhile, Beck requires union officials to specifically inform employees of their right to refrain from formal, full dues-paying union membership and their right to pay a reduced fee to cover only the union’s proven collective bargaining costs.

The charges seek an order that the union hierarchy drop all disciplinary proceedings, rescind its illegal resignation policies, as well as inform all workers represented by the union of their unqualified right to resign their full union membership at any time and to pay only a reduced fee.

4 Nov 2003

Union Faces Suit for Threatening Firings in Violation of Florida’s Right to Work Law

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Tampa, Fla. (November 4, 2003) — Five non-union security officers at the Tampa Federal Courthouse today hit the United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA) union Local 132 with a lawsuit for illegally threatening to have them fired for refusing to join or financially support the union.

With free legal aid from attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation, Fred Bohlig and four coworkers filed the lawsuit in the Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial Circuit in and for Hillsborough County, Florida. The actions of UGSOA officials violate Florida’s Right to Work law, which protects workers from being forced to join or pay agency fees to an unwanted union.

“This case is yet another example of how union officials are willing to silence dissent and trample the First Amendment right of free association,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.

In October, as part of an effort to pressure non-union workers, UGSOA union officials posted a notice at the Tampa Federal Courthouse claiming all security officers would lose their jobs unless they agreed to either join the union or pay a non-member agency fee.

The notice falsely claimed that the security officers worked on federal property and thus were not protected by Florida’s Right to Work law and could be forced to pay union fees as a condition of employment. While it is true workers employed on exclusive federal property are not covered by a state Right to Work law, all evidence shows the Tampa Federal Courthouse is not such a location.

“These bully tactics demonstrate why the vast majority of Florida workers are fortunate to work under the protections of a Right to Work Law,” stated Gleason.

15 Oct 2003

Legal Foundation to Assist Non-Striking L.A. Transit Workers Targeted by Union Violence and Harassment

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Los Angeles, Calif. (October 15, 2003) – With a disruptive public transit strike underway, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation today announced that it will offer free legal aid to non-striking Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) workers who are targeted for illegal harassment or violence by their union in retaliation for staying on the job.

Since 1975, the National Institute for Labor Relations Research has collected more than 9,000 reports of documented union violence–many of which have come as a direct result of strike-related activities.

“With union officials ordering workers off the job, employees who courageously continue to work often face violence and other ugly forms of retaliation,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The Foundation and its staff attorneys are ready to provide free legal aid to workers who are victims of union coercion.”

For example, in Los Angeles County in 2001, Matthew Kahn, an employee of Labor Ready, faced an apparently premeditated attack by union militants for providing replacement workers during a strike by the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE). The attack left Kahn with several head lacerations and other injuries.

The MTA union’s strike centers, in part, on union officials’ attempts to secure a taxpayer-funded bailout of the union health fund — despite reports that the union’s own mismanagement led to the fund’s bankruptcy.

In addition to a documented history of violence, union officials have a long history of fining and suing employees who continue to work to support their families. The only way to escape these fines and union lawsuits is for non-striking employees to resign from formal union membership before returning to work. However, union officials frequently deceive employees about their right to resign, or they simply refuse to honor employees’ resignations from membership.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation emphasizes the importance of employees learning about their rights if they desire to return to work without union retaliation. For more information, workers can find a special advisory for the L.A. transit strike on the Foundation’s web site at www.nrtw.org or call 800-336-3600 and ask to speak to an attorney.

14 Oct 2003

Boston Radio Talk Show Host Chuck Morse Receives Recognition from National Employee Rights Advocacy Group

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Springfield, Va. (October 14, 2003) – The National Right to Work Foundation has selected Boston radio talk show host Chuck Morse to receive this year’s Right to Work Communication Fellowship Award at an event honoring retired Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) and other leaders in the Right to Work movement.

The award is given annually to an individual journalist who has done a great deal to communicate to the public about the struggle against union tyranny and abuse encountered by America’s working men and women.

Currently 11 million employees across America are forced to join a union in order to get or keep a job. Big Labor’s government-granted special privileges result in many abuses of individual employee rights, including union violence and violations of political or religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Morse, who has hosted the Chuck Morse Show (aired weekdays on Boston’s WROL-AM) since 1996 will be honored in conjunction with a meeting of National Right to Work’s board of directors in Raleigh, North Carolina, on October 25, 2003.

“Chuck Morse is a true leader in the fight for individual liberty,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Over the past year, Chuck has done an outstanding job in advocating for the rights of workers who face union coercion, and he has helped to shine a bright light on the wide variety of union abuses which have become so prevalent in Massachusetts as in other parts of the country.”

In addition to his work on the radio, Morse owns and manages City Metro Enterprises, an advertising distribution service that he established in 1986. Morse is a regular columnist for World Net Daily and has published four compilations of his columns, Thunder out of Boston, Why I’m a Right-Wing Extremist, The Difference between Us and Them, and The Gramsci Factor.

Morse lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife Barbara Morse and their four-year-old daughter.

9 Oct 2003

Bristol Workers Hit Dana Corp. and UAW With Federal Charges For Imposing Union on Employees

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Bristol, Va. (October 9, 2003) – With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, three Bristol-area workers filed federal charges challenging a back-room agreement between Dana Corporation and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, on the grounds that it violates employees’ right to refrain from union representation.

Donna Stinson, Brian Rasnake, and Barry Wood, three employees of Dana Corporation, obtained free legal aid from Foundation attorneys to file unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The charges seek an NLRB injunction against the UAW and Dana Corporation that would block implementation of the agreement. As part of their agreement, company officials handed over employees’ personal information to union organizers, forced workers to attend “captive audience” speeches given by Dana executives, and made it difficult for employees to void previously signed union authorization cards.

In August, bowing to pressure from UAW organizers, and the threat of lost job opportunities with the “Big Three” automakers, Dana Corporation signed a so-called “neutrality agreement” with the union. Previous efforts by the UAW to organize the facility had failed – with a majority of workers voting against unionization in an election held in 2002.

“Since employees have been rejecting unionization through the secret ballot election process, union organizers have abandoned this less abusive process and instead are organizing companies from the top down,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.

As part of their organizing efforts, officials with Dana and the UAW notified the workers that union authorization cards signed more than a year ago — in July 2002 — would be considered proof of employee support for unionization. The only way workers could rescind prior authorization cards was if they went to UAW headquarters during a select period and met with or contacted a particular union representative.

Many workers signed petitions and letters stating they wanted their union authorization cards revoked, but in further violation of the workers’ right to reject union affiliation, Dana and UAW officials completely ignored the workers’ revocations.

In late August, Dana officials organized “captive audience” speeches and told employees that, if they did not support unionization, they could risk losing future job opportunities. Days after the mandatory speech, Dana recognized the UAW as the workers’ exclusive bargaining representative, based only on the union authorization cards provided by UAW officials.

“From the beginning, UAW organizers have done everything possible to short circuit the notion of employee consent and impose unwanted union affiliation upon them,” stated Gleason.

9 Oct 2003

Union to Rescind Employee Fines Illegally Levied During “Justice for Janitors” Strike

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Los Angeles, Calif. (October 9, 2003) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has forced the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1877 to rescind fines that were illegally levied against 31 janitors who continued working to support their families during the so-called “Justice for Janitors” strike in April 2000.

The rescission is part of a settlement agreement reached as a result of unfair labor practice charges filed with the NLRB by the janitors against SEIU Local 1877. The janitors were represented by attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation.

“This settlement is a victory for those workers who have the courage to stand up and put their families ahead of the demands of a self-serving union bureaucracy,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.

In July 2000, Local 1877 union officials started levying the illegal fines – often amounting to $500 per janitor – and demanded that the janitors either pay the fines or perform so-called “community service,” such as scrubbing floors at the union hall, after the strike against various Los Angeles area employers. SEIU union officials hit the workers with illegal fines because they chose to work rather than sacrifice crucial family income during the 2000 strike.

With the help of Foundation attorneys, the janitors filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB against SEIU Local 1877. The janitors are employed by American Building Maintenance Janitorial Services Company and two other janitorial services.

In December 2002, the NLRB issued a consolidated complaint against the powerful California union for retaliating against those who exercised their right to work during the strike.

As part of the settlement, SEIU Local 1877 must also post a notice alerting all workers in the bargaining unit to their right to refrain from formal union membership and pay a reduced fee covering only the cost of activities directly related to collective bargaining. The Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Communications Workers v. Beck and subsequent NLRB rulings prohibit union officials from requiring formal union membership or the payment of full union dues as a condition of employment.

8 Oct 2003

Department of Labor Waters Down Proposed Changes in Union Reporting Requirements

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SPRINGFIELD, Va. – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix made the following statement on the Department of Labor’s announced changes in union financial disclosure requirements:

“Employees have long been kept in the dark as to how union officials spend their compulsory union dues. However, the new regulations issued today by the Department of Labor betray the goal of creating meaningful financial transparency contemplated at the beginning of this process. As part of an apparent effort to soften the blow to union officials who have opposed the notion of increasing union accountability from day one, several substantial, last-minute concessions were made.

“For example, the threshold for itemization of expenditures was raised to $5,000 from an originally proposed level of $250 (and later $2,000), allowing the concealment of a vast majority of union disbursements. The new disclosure requirements also fail to require any kind of independent audit or verification — an exemption that companies and non-profit organizations do not enjoy. And last, distinct categories of expenditures have been arbitrarily lumped together — such as lobbying and political activism and organizing and contract administration — thwarting employees from learning to what extent union officials are playing politics or recruiting more members to their private ideological cause using mandatory union dues.

“This last-minute gutting of the regulations betrays President Bush’s goal of creating meaningful union transparency. This entire process further demonstrates that the only way to rein in union corruption is to eliminate the special privileges union officials enjoy to force employees to join or support a union in the first place.”

29 Sep 2003

Millville Union Hit with Federal Charges for Illegal Seizure of Forced Union Dues for Politics

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Millville, NJ (September 29, 2003) — Enjoying free legal aid from attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an employee of Friedrich & Dimmock glass tubing company filed federal charges against local union officials for denying his right to cut off payment of forced dues used for union politics.

Orville Ziennker, along with nine other non-union workers at Friedrich & Dimmock’s Millville plant, filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics, & Allied Workers International (GMP) Union Local 219. The NLRB is responsible for investigating the charges and will decide whether to prosecute the union for unfair labor practices.

“GMP union officials’ actions show they only care about stuffing their coffers with union dues rather than respecting the wishes of rank-and-file employees they claim to represent,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.

In July, a letter from the union to the workers failed to adequately detail both the Local and International union’s expenditures of their forced dues, including a breakdown of chargeable and non-chargeable union expenditures. Ziennker and his fellow workers are also challenging the union’s forced-dues objection procedure, which requires workers to file annual objections to paying for union ideological activities, and illegally strips them of their right to file charges with the NLRB challenging the amount of forced dues without first filing a challenge with the American Arbitration Association.

The actions of GMP union officials violate the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision. Under Beck, workers are allowed to resign from formal union membership, and halt and reclaim the portion of forced union dues spent on activities unrelated to collective bargaining, such as union politics, organizing, and public relations. Union officials must also provide workers a list of activities they claim they can compel non-members to subsidize.

“No one should be forced to pay compulsory dues to a union, especially when its officials continually abuse that federally granted special privilege,” stated Gleason. “Until New Jersey workers enjoy the protections of a Right to Work law, workers will continue suffering this type of abuse at the hands of self-serving union officials.”