Washington, DC (August 13, 2002) — A national employee rights advocate today filed federal charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Union Labor Life Insurance Company (ULLICO) for secretly contributing to labor unions through their top officials at the expense of rank-and-file union members and compulsory fee payers.
With assets totaling over $4 billion today, ULLICO was established in 1925 and today invests funds from unions, labor pension funds, and individual stockholders. ULLICO, whose directors are almost exclusively presidents and other officials of major unions, is already the target of a federal grand jury investigation in Washington, DC, which is investigating possible criminal activity.
The federal unfair labor practice charges filed today by Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, allege that ULLICO directors used their positions to allow themselves to sell their personal portfolios of ULLICO stock at a dramatically higher price than they were worth, but would not allow larger shareholders – such as individual union pension funds set up for the benefit of union members and compulsory fee payers– to sell their stock during the same period. These transactions were kept secret for nearly two years until they came to light in April.
“The self-dealing of ULLICO officials reveals the corruption that results from the numerous special privileges conferred upon union officials by federal law,” said Gleason. “While union officials have been talking about corporate corruption, at firms like Enron they have been similarly exploiting rank-and-file workers.”
During the late 1990’s, ULLICO bought significant holdings in Global Crossing which skyrocketed in value. In late 1999, before ULLICO’s stock price was to be increased, ULLICO President Robert Georgine sent a confidential letter to ULLICO board members – virtually all of whom are union presidents – encouraging them to purchase up to 4,000 shares of stock at $53.94. Georgine knew the stock’s value would increase significantly at the next revaluation. Then, in May 2000, ULLICO’s board raised the price of company stock to $146 per share, knowing that the new price was well above its true value since Global Crossing’s stock value had been plummeting dramatically throughout 2000.
In November 2000, ULLICO’s board authorized a stock repurchase at the inflated price of $146 a share, which permitted directors to sell back their personal holdings. But they permitted larger stockholders only to sell back a small portion of their ULLICO stock. By allowing themselves to liquidate their personal holdings at an inflated price, ULLICO’s board of directors made significant profits to the direct detriment of others who had invested in ULLICO. In Spring 2001, the value of ULLICO stock was revalued at $74 a share, and only then were union pensions, which are set up for employees, free to sell their ULLICO stock.
Public reports indicate that among those who personally profited from these secret transactions were Douglas McCarron, President of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Martin Maddaloni, President of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, and Morton Bahr, President of the Communications Workers of America.
East Lansing, Mich. (August 8, 2002) — With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, teaching assistant Samuel Howerton today filed a complaint against Michigan State University (MSU) for illegally disclosing confidential information to union operatives. Howerton filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), after the University violated his rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Under FERPA, a student’s education record cannot be released to a third party without their written consent, and students can ask to have even their basic information kept confidential. The actions of MSU officials thereby violate the federal statute that has been on the books since 1974.
Over Howerton’s written objections, and despite repeated assurances to the contrary, the University handed over his confidential information (including his contact information) to the GEU. Howerton is also challenging the University’s policy to disclose to the union how much each teaching assistant is paid and what amount of forced union dues is deducted. Additionally, the disclosure of the amount of the stipend implicitly discloses education background and work history, since the amount of the stipend is directly based on those factors.
“University officials have been bending over backwards to help GEU officials impose themselves on dissenting teaching assistants,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “By failing to respect the rights of teaching assistants, MSU is making it easier for union officials to abuse students and threaten the principles of academic freedom.”
In violation of FERPA, the University and GEU agreed to have every teaching assistant sign dues deduction authorization/membership cards that effectively operate as a waiver of confidentiality. MSU officials never informed the students that they did not have to sign away their rights under FERPA to prevent third parties from gaining access to their private education records.
Howerton is asking the federal government to investigate MSU’s role in providing the GEU with confidential information. In addition, Howerton is asking to have any consent obtained from teaching assistants who were not informed of their rights to be declared invalid, the university to discontinue the dues deduction authorization/ membership program, and MSU officials to provide written notice to all graduate students as to what their rights are under FERPA.
San Jacinto, Calif. (August 6, 2002) – In response to charges filed by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, San Jacinto Education Association (SJEA) officials affiliated with the California Teacher Association (CTA) and the National Education Association (NEA) unions have dropped their demands against a local teacher whose sincere religious beliefs prevented him from joining and supporting the union.
“No one should be forced to support a union that they find morally offensive,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Without the protections of a Right to Work law, Californians will continue to suffer discrimination as a result of forced unionism.”
Last Fall, Rick Still learned that the SJEA and its affiliates were advocating policies he considered morally objectionable, including support for publicly funding of abortions and special rights for homosexuals. Rather than support an organization whose agenda compromised his Christian beliefs, Still asked SJEA officials to remove the conflict by allowing him to divert his compulsory dues to a mutually agreed upon charity.
When union officials refused his request, Still contacted attorneys at the National Right to Work Foundation, who helped him file unfair labor practice charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, union officials must accommodate sincere religious objectors by allowing employees to make charitable contributions in lieu of paying union fees.
Under legal pressure, the union hierarchy has now agreed to allow the San Jacinto Unified School District teacher to divert his forced dues to a local college scholarship fund, instead of funding the union.
‘“Unfortunately, this not an isolated incident. Teachers across the country, regardless of their faith, are being shaken down to pay for the NEA’s radical agenda,” said Gleason.
San Francisco, Calif. (August 2, 2002) – The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that local affiliates of the California Teacher Association (CTA) must provide teachers with an independent verification of how they spend employees’ forced union dues.
With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the case was brought by San Jose teacher Kim Sheffield, and seven other California teachers, against the CTA and eight of its locals in March 2000. The Court of Appeals yesterday affirmed the U.S. District Court ruling that the locals cannot collect agency fees until they provide an independent verification of how their agency fees were calculated. Without an outside accountant’s verification, non-members cannot determine whether they are being forced to pay for union activities unrelated to collective bargaining, such as the union’s political agenda.
“The court’s decision is a small step toward preventing teachers from getting ripped off by union officials,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “For too long, union bosses have gotten away with hiding their use of employees’ forced union dues to support their radical political agenda.”
Under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as articulated in the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, union officials must provide independently audited disclosure of their books and justify expenditures made from forced union dues seized from teachers who have chosen to refrain from union membership.
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 only collect compulsory dues that are proven to be spent on collective bargaining activity. 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 CTA and its national affiliate the National Education Association (NEA), are two of the most politically active unions in the country. Every year, both organizations seize millions of dollars in compulsory dues to support candidates and causes that many of their members find objectionable. Polls have consistently shown that a majority of rank-and-file union members object to having their dues spent for political activities.
Boston, Mass. (July 30, 2002) — In a long running legal battle that twice made it all the way to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission (MLRC) has ordered the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) and National Education Association (NEA) to release $87,000 in union fees that were illegally seized from 350 teachers across the commonwealth.
Under the Commission’s ruling – which ends the teachers’ 13 year case brought with the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation – the MTA and NEA must release from escrow union fees that were illegally demanded from teachers from 1987 to 1992. If the teachers had not filed challenges, then the fees would have been used to pay for union politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining. Under Massachusetts law, if a teacher does not want to join the MTA they are still forced to pay a fee that covers collective bargaining activity, or be suspended or fired.
“The decade-long hassle the teachers received in fighting for their rights proves the great problem workers have stopping unions from using their money for politics,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Until Massachusetts’ workers have the protection of a Right to Work law they will continue to be harassed and ripped off by union bosses.”
The case began in 1989, when Springfield teacher Jim Belhumeur refused to join and support the NEA’s ideological activity. Teacher union officials had Belhumeur, a former Springfield representative for the American Federation of Teachers, suspended for refusing to pay full union dues. With the help of Foundation attorneys, Belhumeur was able to challenge the amount union officials demanded in agency fees without continuing to be suspended each year.
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, a 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.
Buffalo, N.Y. (July 25, 2002) — Responding to federal labor charges filed by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a complaint to force Teamsters Local 449 to refund dues illegally collected from employees of Laidlaw Transit Services after they were expelled from union membership for voicing opposition to the union.
The case arose when four workers, Alfonso Ditillio, June Reinard, Jill Galluzzo, and Tim Stalker, filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB in April 2002. In October 2001, the employees exercised their right to resign from formal union membership and to pay a reduced fee to cover only the costs of collective bargaining. However, Teamsters officials illegally refused to accept their resignations and continued charging them full union dues.
In December 2001, Teamsters officials further harassed the workers by expelling them from the union for participating in a decertification election to remove the union from the workplace. Even after the expulsion, union officials continued to demand that the four workers pay full union dues.
“This is another classic example of the corruption and bully tactics that has earned the Teamsters such an embarrassing reputation,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “So long as New Yorkers labor under forced unionism, this kind of abuse will invariably continue.”
The NLRB seeks an order requiring Teamster official to refund all of the union dues collected from the workers since December 2001. Under law, if an employee is kicked out of a union for any reason other than failing to pay union dues he cannot be compelled to pay any dues whatsoever to the union — despite the existence of a forced unionism requirement in the collective bargaining agreement.
Lancaster, Pa. (July 25, 2002) — The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) forced United Steelworkers of America (USWA) Local 1035 into a settlement of unfair labor practice charges brought by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation for Raymond Vojtowicz, an employee of Acme Markets Incorporated.
As part of the settlement, USWA Local 1035 must honor Vojtowicz’s resignation from the union and refund his dues and fees that were used for non-representational purposes. The union must also post a notice alerting employees of Acme Markets of their right to refrain from formal union membership and that they will reimburse all non-member employees for any dues seized for non-representational purposes since October 24, 2001.
“The greed and corruption of this USWA local’s officials is outrageous,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “They have been misleading and lying to the people they claim to protect, just to keep the money flowing into their political machine.”
Vojtowicz contacted the Foundation after USWA Local 1035 officials had threatened to take “disciplinary” action against him for participating in a deauthorization election in January 2002. The NLRB found that Vojtowicz could not be disciplined by the union because they never notified him of his right to refrain from union membership and pay a reduced fee that covers activities related only to collective bargaining.
USWA Local 1035 officials violated Vojtowicz’s 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.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (July 17, 2002) — Responding to charges filed by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) prosecutors have forced the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200 to refund illegally seized union dues from employees of the Marsellus Casket Company.
This is the second time the NLRB has issued a formal complaint against SEIU Local 200 in the past year. Under the NLRB’s original settlement, issued in November, SEIU Local 200 officials were ordered to refund the employees’ dues and fees that were used for non-representational purposes. Union officials disregarded the agreement and continued illegally seizing workers’ dues to pay for union politics.
“What incredible arrogance. These union officials just thumbed their noses at the government’s prosecutors and the employees they claim to represent,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The actions of SEIU officials suggest that they will do virtually anything to keep money flowing into their political operations.”
As part of the second settlement, the NLRB has also mandated the union must 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 settlement also requires SEIU union officials to 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 was originally filed in July 2001 by Foundation attorneys for three company employees, Mark L. Miller, Scott Bayer, and David 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.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 15, 2002) — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld the Bush Administration’s Executive Order 13202, which bans discriminatory union-only contracts, also known as project labor agreements (PLAs), on federally funded construction projects.
In support of the Bush administration, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed an amicus curiae (Friend of the Court) brief with Associated Builders and Contractors and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The three-judge panel unanimously agreed with the arguments that the executive order was not preempted by the congressionally enacted National Labor Relations Act and that President Bush acted within his constitutional authority by issuing the Executive Order banning union-only contracts.
“The court’s decision is a step toward protecting workers and taxpayers from higher costs and other abuses that flow from compulsory unionism,” said National Right to Work 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 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.
A coalition of union officials filed Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, et al. v. Allbaugh, et al. after President Bush issued the order in February 2001 to establish a policy of non-discrimination on federal contracting. The appellate court’s decision overturns an injunction issued by the U.S. District Court last year.
“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.
In response to being illegally fired for refusing to pay union dues for politics, a Huntleigh Corporation employee today filed charges against the Allied Services Division, Transportation Communications International (TCU) union.
With help from the National Right to Work Foundation, Ralph Lanton III filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after union officials would not provide a breakdown of how his dues were calculated. The union forced the illegal firing of Lanton when he refused to pay full union dues, including dues spent for politics.
Foundation attorneys are also seeking a restraining order to have Lanton reinstated at his job.
“No one should have their career destroyed because the union broke the law,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “How can union officials claim to be on the side of workers when they thwart their ability to make a living?”
In April 2002, TCU officials demanded that Lanton pay an agency fee equal to full union dues or face termination from his job. In response, Lanton asked for a written account of how the union spends workers’ dues and asked for a reduction in the fee because he was not a union member. In violation of the employee’s constitutional and due-process rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court, TCU officials rejected both of these requests and had Lanton fired on June 10.
The actions of TCU officials violated the rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 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.
Every year, union officials seize millions of dollars in compulsory dues to support candidates and causes that many rank-and-file workers find objectionable. Polls have consistently shown that a majority of union members object to having their dues spent for political activities.