Settlement Requires Refund of an Estimated $5,000,000 in Illegally Seized Union Dues From LA Home Care Workers
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (December 16, 2002) — Union defendants to a civil rights lawsuit filed by Los Angeles County home care providers have agreed to return an estimated $5 million in illegally seized union dues taken from 60,000 non-union home care providers and spent for politics and other non-bargaining activities.
Enjoying free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, Carla West and three other home care providers filed the class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 434B, the Personal Assistance Services Council (PASC) of Los Angeles County, and Attorney General Bill Lockyer.
The court recently dismissed arguments that Local 434B’s entire contract with PASC that imposes union affiliation on home care workers who do not desire union representation – and in many cases had never even heard of the union – was unconstitutional. However, in settling other constitutional claims in the home care workers’ civil rights lawsuit, SEIU has agreed to return forced union dues illegally seized from 60,000 workers who were not formal union members.
The union had failed to follow the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers v. Hudson, which requires unions to provide objecting employees an audited disclosure and advance reduction of forced union dues used for politics and other non-bargaining activities. After months of stonewalling, the SEIU produced an audit showing that a mere 48 percent of union dues is spent for collective bargaining.
“Even though the union must now cough up upwards of $5 million in illegally seized dues, the state of California should not have forced independent home care workers into union collectives in the first place,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Years ago, union operatives set their sights on California’s home care subsidy program as a major cash cow. Now California taxpayers must pay tens of millions of dollars that are laundered through the program and dumped into union coffers.”
The AFL-CIO has hailed the forced unionization of the 80,000 home care providers as organized labor’s single largest organizing victory ever. Sacramento and San Diego counties and, more recently, Oregon and Washington State, have since adopted virtually identical schemes.
In 1999, Local 434B officials gained recognition by PASC as the exclusive bargaining agents of home care workers who provide non-medical in-home support services to disabled low-income clients. Although they are reimbursed through the state, the workers are independently hired, fired, and supervised by individual recipients of home care. The constitutionally suspect agreement brokered between union operatives and government bureaucrats declares home care providers are “public employees” for collective bargaining purposes only and has no bearing on hiring, firing, work schedules, workplace safety, and disputes with the employer recipient.
East Hartford, Conn. (December 16, 2002) – With the help of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, mechanic Paul Longo filed federal charges last week against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union for socking him with a confiscatory fine simply for honoring his commitments to his employer during a union-ordered strike at Pratt and Whitney’s East Hartford plant.
The charges filed by Longo ask the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to prosecute IAM Local 1746 for refusing to recognize Longo’s resignation and for fining him $1,800 for working during the strike.
“IAM union officials have tried to make an example of Paul Longo so that all employees think twice before defying union edicts,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This sort of intimidation shows union bosses viciously trample workers’ rights in order to preserve their own power.”
During a strike at the Pratt and Whitney plant in December 2001, Longo decided to resign his IAM union membership in order to continue working. Upon officially notifying the union of his resignation, Longo returned to his job the following day. The NLRB recognizes an employee as having officially resigned a day after the union has been notified.
Yet, in August 2002, Longo learned that the union had ignored his resignation and imposed a steep fine for violating the IAM union by-laws concerning strike rules that apply only to members. The fine prompted Longo to contact Foundation attorneys who assisted him in filing charges with the NLRB.
The federal charges state that attempting to impose a fine violated his rights under the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court case NLRB v. Textile Workers, which specifically forbade such action by union officials.
“The arrogance of the IAM union brass is appalling,” said Gleason. “Union officials simply do not have the right to fine workers who are not formal union members.”
During strikes, workers that choose to continue working often become the targets of retaliatory fines, lawsuits, and even violence. These types of harassment and terror are meant to keep rank-and-file union members in line with the mandates of the union hierarchy.
Chattanooga, Tenn. (December 12, 2002) — With the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a Van Heusen Company employee, Sheila Elliot today filed charges against the Teamsters union for illegally discriminating against non-union members.
Elliot, a non-union member, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Teamsters Local Union 515 and Van Heusen. As part of their contract Teamsters officials have forced Van Heusen to favor employees who are union members over non-union employees for both hiring and job assignments.
“Teamsters union bosses are using these tactics to try and force workers to pay union dues in order to get or keep a job,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is a clear assault on Tennessee’s Right to Work Law, which is intended to free workers from this type of abuse.”
Under the state’s highly popular and effective Right to Work law non-union employees are freed from paying membership dues to an unwanted union as a condition of employment.
In addition to discriminating against non-union members, as part of their contract with the Teamsters union, Van Heusen is required to encourage all associate employees to become and remain full union members. In addition, Van Heusen must refer all new associates to a Teamsters union representative.
Both of these tactics are used to coerce workers into joining the union and violate the rights of workers to refrain from union activities. In helping Elliot file the charges, Foundation attorneys are seeking to have both provisions of the contract thrown out by the NLRB.
“These workers should be able to decide for themselves if they want to join the union, without being forced into it by Teamsters union bosses,” said Gleason.
Statement Of National Right To Work Foundation Regarding Court Ruling Upholding Utah’s Voluntary Contributions Act
Salt Lake City, Utah (December 10, 2002) – The following is a statement of Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the organization that provided free legal aid to Utah public employees attempting to limit the infringement of their rights under government-imposed compulsory unionism.
“This week’s ruling by the Third District Court to uphold the core of Utah’s recently enacted “Voluntary Contributions Act” (VCA) gives union members a measure of comfort that they have a right to object to the portion of their union dues spent for politics and other non-collective bargaining activity. The court relied on a long line of Foundation-won Supreme Court cases that limit the use of union dues spent on unwanted union politics.
“However, the court missed a major opportunity to solve the fundamental cause of abuse by Utah’s government union officials – monopoly bargaining power.
“Monopoly bargaining is the premier union special privilege, granted or allowed by federal law and the laws of many states. It forces individual employees at unionized workplaces to accept union “representation” – even if they don’t want it.
“National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys intervened in the case on behalf of state employees to defend the statute and to argue that monopoly bargaining is unconstitutional for all Utah’s government employees because of its inherent infringements on their rights to free speech and association.
“Even though Utah has a highly popular and effective Right to Work law that enables nonunion employees to pay no dues whatsoever to an unwanted union, the still-intact monopoly bargaining privilege forces employees to accept the rigid terms of “one size fits all” union-brokered contracts – contracts that tend to punish the best and most productive employees.
“This bars all employees – even union objectors – from individually negotiating over the terms of their own employment. And using their monopoly bargaining privilege, union officials refuse to allow non-union members any input into workplace issues that directly affect them. Monopoly bargaining often leaves employees who don’t support the union’s ideological agenda with an intolerable choice: Join the unwanted union and pay dues or give up their workplace voice.
“Unfortunately, Utah’s VCA law leaves monopoly bargaining – the very root of forced unionism – intact. Meanwhile, as recent history has shown, attempts to merely regulate the misuse of employees’ dues for political activities have utterly failed in other states.
“Ending the ability of union officials to impose their “representation” on non-consenting employees would – unlike Utah’s Voluntary Contributions Act – tear out compulsory unionism from the root and fully restore employees’ individual rights.”
Worker Rights Advocate Comments on Resignation of AFL-CIO President From Scandal-Plagued ULLICO Board
Washington, D.C. (December 3, 2002) – The following statement was released by National Right to Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason regarding AFL-CIO President John Sweeney’s decision to resign from the board of directors of the Union Labor Life Insurance Company (ULLICO) after the board refused to release Governor Jim Thompson’s report on insider stock sales:
“While it’s encouraging to see John Sweeney now expressing outrage about the actions of the ULLICO board of directors, where was his outrage when the insider trading originally took place” As a member of the board, Sweeney ratified the insider stock plan that enabled top union officials to make significant personal profits at the expense of workers and union pension funds invested in ULLICO.
“The frenzy by ULLICO’s president and officers to block the release of Governor James R. Thompson Jr.’s internal investigation suggests that the criminal wrongdoing by top union presidents may have been even more pervasive than originally suspected. If these individuals are threatened by an internal report prepared by a governor who was widely known to be a union partisan, then we can only imagine how damning the full truth may be.
“The federal grand jury should hand down its indictments, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) should get moving on its investigation of unfair labor practice charges filed by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys against ULLICO and its union directors.”
Cleveland, Ohio (November 25, 2002) — Facing religious discrimination charges and embarrassing national media exposure, Ohio Education Association (OEA) union officials begrudgingly have agreed to honor the right of a Ravenna City Schools psychologist to have her union dues re-directed to charity because the union’s social advocacy violates her religious convictions.
With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, Kathleen Klamut filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the OEA, and its local affiliate, for refusing to accommodate her religious objections to supporting the union.
A practicing Christian, Klamut objects to having her money subsidize the union’s pro-abortion agenda. Last Fall, when she began working as a school psychologist in the Ravenna City Schools, Klamut asked to have her dues re-directed to charity – her right under the law. OEA officials refused to accommodate her, and Klamut was told the union hierarchy was planning to take legal action against her.
“No one should be forced to support an agenda they find morally objectionable,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “For the past five years, Kathleen Klamut has faced tremendous adversity simply because she wanted to do what she loves without compromising her faith.”
In 1997, while working for the Louisville School System, Klamut fought to get the OEA union and its Louisville local to recognize her religious objection. They ordered Klamut to send her money to a union-controlled organization (Carpenter/Garcia Fund) or they would refuse to honor her status as a religious objector. After a two-year struggle, Klamut was able to have her compulsory dues diverted to the American Cancer Society. However, the struggle began again when she moved to the Ravenna City Schools.
“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Union bosses around the country try to force people of faith to support their radical social agenda,” stated Gleason.
Earlier this year, the EEOC found that the National Education Association (NEA) and OEA unions have systematically discriminated against religious objectors. Another Ohio teacher, Dennis Robey, brought charges against the NEA and its state and local affiliates after they refused to honor his religious objection to supporting the union because it promotes pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality positions.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, union officials may not force any employee to support financially a union if doing so violates the employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. To avoid the conflict between an employee’s faith and a requirement to pay fees to a union he or she believes to be immoral, the law requires union officials to attempt to accommodate the employee – usually by designating a mutually acceptable charity to accept the funds.
Denver, Colo. (November 19, 2002) – Thirty employees of the Seattle-based Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) today requested an injunction to block the imminent and unlawful elimination of their jobs simply because they have not opted for union representation. Solidifying union control over vital jobs currently performed by non-union employees has emerged as a top bargaining priority for the union hierarchy, whose actions sparked a $2-billion-a-day shutdown of West Coast ports last month.
With the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the workers filed charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) for demanding that SSA take jobs away from its happily non-union employees at a Salt Lake City facility.
SSA is the largest company at the West Coast ports. The employees are responsible for tactical management of day-to-day activities and perform computerized planning work over the company’s rail, yard, and vessel functions.
By insisting that this planning work instead be performed at new facilities at the ports staffed by unionized “marine clerks” rather than non-union employees, ILWU and PMA officials are in violation of the employees’ right to refrain from unionization under federal law and Utah’s Right to Work Law. In the past, the NLRB has prosecuted this type of illegal discrimination – known as a “runaway shop.”
“The union’s illegal demands further reveal that the shutdown of West Coast ports was a naked attempt by union officials to exploit an economic crisis to expand their coercive power,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “It’s deplorable that ILWU officials would take action to cripple America’s struggling economy for the selfish purpose of further solidifying union control of the ports.”
In the charges, the employees ask the NLRB’s General Counsel immediately to seek a federal court injunction that would bar PMA, ILWU, and SSA from eliminating the Utah jobs and moving the jobs to the ports. Other employers within the PMA have already been pressured to agree to hand over their planning workers to the union. Without immediate NLRB intervention, SSA and its employees will also be forced to accede to the demands of the PMA and ILWU upon ratification of the new agreement.
Before the 10-day lockout in October, the ILWU hierarchy employed a variety of work slowdown tactics. These included deliberately understaffing key operations and sending workers to jobs for which they were not qualified, which made it impossible for the ports to function.
Union officials have a long history of using economic and wartime crises to seek more coercive power. During the Second World War, for example, Big Labor waged 13,000 strikes and work stoppages, often called for the single purpose of forcibly unionizing employees. In the most notorious of these strikes, union officials were able to shut down vital iron mines and ultimately persuaded the federal government to mandate that all mining employees join the union as a condition of employment.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 12, 2002) – Ceding to the request of U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, the U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it will not review a key ruling issued by the Clinton National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that dramatically diminished the rights of employees to refrain from supporting objectionable union activities with their forced union dues.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit first unanimously overturned the NLRB ruling in Mulder v. National Labor Relations Board, but then it later unanimously upheld it during a circuit-wide rehearing. By refusing to grant a writ of certiorari, the Supreme Court allows unions to force millions of unionized workers in the private sector to pay for union organizing drives or lose their jobs. Organizing expenses often exceed 20-30% of a union’s budget.
“It’s disturbing the Bush Administration took this position in opposition to enforcement of the Beck decision,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, referring to the Supreme Court’s Communications Workers v. Beck (1988) decision. That decision allows employees to reclaim their forced union dues spent for activities unrelated to collective bargaining, such as politics. “No one should be forced to fund the recruitment of supporters to a private ideological cause to get or keep a job.”
The decision to oppose Supreme Court review fit the strategy of some in the White House political office to cozy up to union officials by making fundamental policy concessions that have increased union coercive power. As the union hierarchy has again gone all out to defeat Republicans at the polls this year, this concession strategy is increasingly recognized as a political failure.
Many labor law experts agree that the Ninth Circuit’s decision directly violates previous rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court. In the Foundation-won precedent Ellis v. Railway Clerks, the High Court determined that union organizing expenses were only tenuously related to collective bargaining, and thus employees who are not members of a union could not be legally forced to financially support this activity.
In affirming the NLRB and establishing a nationwide precedent in conflict with previous Supreme Court rulings, the Ninth Circuit decided against grocery clerk Phillip Mulder and five other employees and in favor of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union.
Foundation attorneys plan to bring forward similar cases in other circuits with the hope of persuading the Supreme Court ultimately to take up the issue of union organizing.
Washington, DC (October 31, 2002) — Acting in response to legal pressure as well as embarrassing media coverage, Douglas McCarron, President of the Carpenters’ and Joiners of America union, announced he will return nearly $300,000 in personal profits he made through a notorious insider trading deal while serving as a director of a massive union-owned insurance company, increasingly known as “Big Labor’s Enron.”
While using his position on the $6 billion Union Labor Life Insurance Company (ULLICO) board to line his own pockets, McCarron also received a $110,000 raise from the Carpenters union, increasing his annual compensation to $356,000 in 2001, according to government disclosure documents obtained by the National Right to Work Foundation.
Mr. McCarron still faces possible indictment from a federal grand jury convened to investigate insider trading by union officials on the ULLICO board. Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board is investigating charges filed by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation against ULLICO, whose board is composed primarily of former and current union officials.
In a failed effort to win backing from top officials of the Carpenters and Teamsters unions, the White House political office has been pursuing a strategy to make policy concessions that have increased compulsory unionism power exercised by union officials over rank-and-file workers. Yet despite the White House’s efforts, these two unions have continued to give virtually all of their soft money contributions to Democrat party committees, and the two unions have given 95 percent of their PAC contributions in closely contested House and Senate races to Democrat candidates.
“The President of the United States should not be cozying up to union officials like Doug McCarron who are knee-deep in allegations of corruption,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is another example of the corruption and arrogance that results from the numerous special privileges conferred upon union officials by federal law, and those involved in the ULLICO scandal should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Despite McCarron’s public relations stunt to pay back his personal ULLICO profits, the legal inquiries continue into whether ULLICO directors, including McCarron, violated the law by writing special rules which allowed themselves to sell their personal portfolios of ULLICO stock at an inflated price, while at the same time preventing larger shareholders, including union pension funds set up for the benefit of workers, from selling their larger holdings. These transactions were concealed for nearly two years until they came to light in April. Under the special rules, McCarron sold 3,000 shares at a profit of $92 a share.
In addition to McCarron, public reports indicate that other union officials, including Martin Maddaloni, President of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, and Morton Bahr, President of the Communications Workers of America, personally profited from these secret transactions.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (October 25, 2002) — Attorneys provided by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation have filed a third round of charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against a Syracuse-based union for continually seizing union dues unlawfully from employees of the Marsellus Casket Company.
The complaint, the third filed against Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200 in fifteen months, again charges the union hierarchy with failing to provide union dissenters such as Mark L. Miller, Scott Bayer, and David Sprague with an adequate breakdown of the activities their forced union dues are financing.
“The length of time and amount of resources union bosses have spent stonewalling workers’ objections shows how determined they are to keep forced union dues flowing into the union’s political operation,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
As part of a previous settlement, the NLRB required 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 obtain a reduction of their forced union dues. The settlement also required SEIU union officials to provide employees with financial disclosure that demonstrates how mandatory dues are spent.
However, when Miller received the union’s disclosure in early August, it again failed to include the required independent audit of the union’s expenditures. Moreover, the union’s procedure continues to authorize it to spend objectors’ monies for lobbying and activities outside of collective bargaining.
The original case against SEIU Local 200 was filed in July 2001 by Foundation attorneys for Miller, Bayer, and Sprague. 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.