20 Jun 2021

Puerto Rico Workers Ask Court to Stop Union Officials’ Illegal Dues Cover-up

Union bosses threaten healthcare unless employees ‘authorize’ years of improperly seized dues

In an attempt to cover up their misdeeds, union bosses threatened to axe Jose Ramos’ (left) and Jose Cotto’s healthcare if they didn’t retroactively OK years of unconstitutional dues deductions.

SAN JUAN, PR – Employees of the University of Puerto Rico have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against the University of Puerto Rico Workers Union. The motion asks the court to block and reverse union officials’ efforts to bar health insurance from employees who refuse to sign away their First Amendment rights.

It comes as part of the employees’ class action lawsuit against the university’s president in his official capacity and the union for illegally seizing dues from workers’ paychecks without their authorization. The suit was originally filed in May 2020 with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.

The forced-dues seizures infringe on employees’ rights as recognized in the 2018 Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision. In Janus, the High Court ruled that requiring public employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment violates the First Amendment, and further held that union fees can only be taken from public employees with their affirmative waiver of the right not to pay.

Union Threats: Approve Past, Present and Future Dues or Lose Healthcare

Antonio Mendez and Jose Ramos have been employed by the University as maintenance workers since 1997 and 1996, respectively. From then, their complaint says, university and union officials “have regarded Ramos and Mendez as members of the Union” and seized dues from their paychecks, despite neither ever having signed a union membership or dues deduction authorization form.

On December 28, 2020, the lawsuit was amended to include two additional plaintiffs, Jose Cotto and Igneris Perez, and to challenge a recent attempt by union officials to coerce university workers into signing a document retroactively approving all previously deducted dues and consenting to an unspecified number of future deductions. According to the complaint, employees who do not comply with union officials’ demands that they sign this document lose access to the union-administered healthcare plan which is paid for by the employer.

On December 30, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to block union officials’ efforts to force employees to choose between losing their healthcare and retroactively agreeing to union dues deductions taken in violation of their rights.

Union Bosses’ Forced- Dues Scheme Violates First Amendment Rights

The employees’ lawsuit contends that union and university officials violated the First Amendment by seizing dues from employee paychecks without written authorization, and by requiring employees to become full union members in violation of longstanding precedent that predates Janus. The lawsuit additionally seeks an order forbidding further enforcement of the unconstitutional scheme and requiring the union to refund to employees dues that were seized illegally “within the . . . 15-year statute of limitations period for breach of contract.”

“For years, University of Puerto Rico Workers Union bosses have gotten away with taking dues out of the pockets of those they claim to represent without ever getting their permission,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Union bosses were caught red-handed violating not only workers’ rights under Janus, but precedents going back decades against mandatory union membership.

“Now, rather than making workers whole, these union officials are doubling down on their illegal acts by taking away the healthcare of anyone who doesn’t retroactively ‘authorize’ years of unconstitutional union dues deductions.”

17 Jun 2021

Ohio Municipal Employee Challenges Deceitful Unconstitutional Dues Deductions

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, March/April 2021 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

IUOE bosses’ scheme renames forced-fee payments clearly outlawed in Janus decision

Veteran Foundation staff attorney William Messenger successfully argued Janus over two years ago, but union bosses are still concocting schemes to circumvent it. Timothy Crane is now fighting a particularly flagrant example.

CINCINNATI, OH – With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, City of Hamilton employee Timothy Crane is suing International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 20 union officials and the City of Hamilton for seizing a compulsory fee from his paycheck in violation of his First Amendment rights.

His complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, contends that union bosses are infringing on his rights under the Janus v. AFSCME decision by forcing him to pay a so-called “agreement administration fee” equal to more than 90 percent of full union dues as a condition of his employment.

In the 2018 Foundation-won Janus decision, the High Court ruled that no public worker can be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of getting or keeping a job. The Court also held that union dues or fees can only be deducted from a public employee’s paycheck if that employee clearly and affirmatively waives his or her right not to pay. Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the Court majority that “such a waiver cannot be presumed” by union or state officials.

Even After City Employee Exercised His Janus Rights, Union Honchos Seized Fees

Crane sent letters to IUOE union officials in both August and September of 2020, attempting to exercise his First Amendment Janus right to end dues deductions from his paycheck. After sending these two letters, however, he discovered that an “agreement administration fee” was now being taken from his pay by the City at the behest of IUOE union bosses.

Crane’s complaint contends that this is just a so-called “agency fee” — compulsory union payments charged to employees who refrain from formal union membership that were definitively outlawed by the Janus v. AFSCME decision — masquerading under a different name. The suit urges the District Court to declare it unconstitutional for IUOE Local 20 and the City of Hamilton to force him to pay this compulsory union fee. Crane’s lawsuit also seeks a refund of all money that the union has illegally taken from his paycheck under the unconstitutional arrangement.

Chain of Foundation-backed Janus Victories for Ohio Workers Likely to Continue

Since Janus was handed down by the Supreme Court, Foundation staff attorneys have already won favorable settlements in four cases for Buckeye State public workers who have challenged illegal union-created restrictions on the exercise of Janus First Amendment rights. In a July 2020 settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed by four state workers, nearly 30,000 Ohio public employees were freed from an “escape-period” scheme imposed by Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) union chiefs, which limited to just a handful of days every few years the time in which a public employee could exercise his or her Janus rights.

“IUOE bosses, who may have thought they were going to trick employees into funding their agenda against their will with this blatantly unconstitutional scheme, have now been caught red-handed,” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse. “Rank-and-file workers like Mr. Crane now see that IUOE officials are far more interested in keeping hard-earned employee cash flowing into their coffers than in respecting the First Amendment rights of the workers they claim to represent.”

LaJeunesse continued: “The string of Foundation victories for independent-minded Buckeye State employees who just want to exercise their First Amendment rights is not going to end here.”

10 Jun 2021

Oregon ABC Cameraman Wins Ruling Against Illegal Dues-Seizing NABET Bosses

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, March/April 2021 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Administrative Law Judge orders union boss to refund all illegally taken money

ABC cameraman Jeremy Brown

He’s done playing games: After cameraman Jeremy Brown sought free legal aid from the Foundation, an NLRB Administrative Law Judge ruled against NABET bosses for violating his Beck rights for years.

PORTLAND, OR – Jeremy Brown, a “daily hire” cameraman for ABC who had worked on and off for the company since 1999, would not have thought that a new president taking over the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) Local 51 union would mean anything for him when he resumed work in 2016. After all, he had worked for ABC for nearly three years, and the union had never even contacted him and he had never joined the union.

Then, in 2019, he received a series of letters from the new union honcho, demanding he pay nearly $10,000 in initiation fees and so-called “back-agency dues.” Brown quickly obtained free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys and asserted his rights under the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision.

Beck prevents private sector union bosses from forcing employees who have abstained from formal union membership to pay for anything unrelated to the union’s bargaining functions, such as political expenses. Moreover, it requires union officials to provide information on the union’s fee calculation and expenditures to non-members.

New NABET Chief Demanded Thousands, Then Snubbed Cameraman’s Beck Rights

Because Brown works primarily in non-Right to Work states, he can be legally forced as a condition of employment to pay some fees to union bosses.

After receiving the baffling, belated dues demands, Brown emailed the new union president, Carrie Biggs-Adams, asking for clarification. He also exercised his Beck rights by objecting “to the collection and expenditure by the union of a fee for any purpose other than” certain bargaining activities. Believing that he would be fired if he did not agree to pay union dues, he filled out a form authorizing NABET to take full dues from his paycheck, but did so under duress.

Biggs-Adams ignored several follow-ups by Brown. According to legal documents, she “believed Local 51 had no obligation to [reply to Brown] because Beck objections” are handled only by the union’s national headquarters under NABET rules. Even so, she never apprised Brown of NABET’s national mailing address, or provided him the dues reduction or any of the information mandated by Beck.

In December, Brown won a decision from a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) about the union’s Beck rights violations. The ALJ’s decision holds the NABET union violated Brown’s rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) through its officials’ omissions and the failure to reduce his dues.

The ALJ ordered NABET Local 51 to provide Brown with “a good faith determination of the reduced dues and fees objectors must pay,” and “reimburse Brown for all dues and fees collected” beyond what is required under Beck, with interest.

“While this decision vindicated Mr. Brown’s legal rights, it also demonstrates why every American worker deserves the protection of a Right to Work law to shield them from union boss threats to pay up or be fired,” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens.

9 May 2021

Workers Nationwide Press NLRB to Scrap Policy Blocking Right to Vote Out Unions

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, March/April 2021 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Foundation cases contend ‘contract bar’ must be eliminated to protect employee freedom

Foundation staff attorneys are assisting Delaware poultry workers in challenging UFCW bosses’ attempts to use the “contract bar” to trap them in union ranks

Foundation staff attorneys are assisting Delaware poultry workers in challenging UFCW bosses’ attempts to use the “contract bar” to trap them in union ranks.

WASHINGTON, DC – Foundation attorneys in January filed a Request for Review to the full National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, D.C. The Request defends the right of Virginia Transdev workers to have a vote to remove unpopular Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 2 bosses from power at their workplace.

The Transdev employees, who work at the Fairfax Connector bus service in Northern Virginia, now join Foundation-backed workers in Delaware and Puerto Rico, all of whom are urging the NLRB to eliminate the “contract bar.” That is a non-statutory NLRB policy which forbids employees from exercising their right to vote out an unpopular union in an NLRB-supervised “decertification election” for up to three years after their employer and union finalize a monopoly bargaining contract.

Foundation attorneys point out in each of these cases that the “contract bar” appears nowhere in the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the federal law the NLRB is charged with enforcing, and is merely the result of past union boss-friendly decisions by the Board. They also argue that the bar undermines workers’ basic right under the NLRA to remove unions that lack majority support.

“The ‘contract bar’ undermines the fundamental objective of federal labor law: Employee free choice. It makes rank-and-file employees prisoners of an unpopular union, with no way out for up to three years,” commented National Right Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This inevitably creates an environment in which, as these employees can certainly attest, it’s impossible to hold self-serving union bosses accountable because workers are denied the right to vote them out.”

Unpopular OPEIU Bosses Went Behind Workers’ Backs to Sign Contract

The petitioner in the Transdev workers’ case, Amir Daoud, submitted a petition on November 10, 2020, signed by the necessary number of his coworkers to trigger a “decertification election” in his workplace. This was after news had gotten around that an OPEIU union agent had told some employees in October he had “negotiated a new agreement” with Transdev management and “‘intended’ to sign it without a ratification vote.” Workers had already voted down an earlier union boss-promoted monopoly bargaining contract in June.

Foundation attorneys filed a Request for Review, which notes that the union agent didn’t inform Daoud and his coworkers of when he planned to approve the new contract — until after Daoud filed the petition. The new contract was signed by union agents on October 30 and Transdev representatives on October 31.

NLRB Region 5 in Baltimore dismissed Daoud and his coworkers’ decertification petition on December 22, ruling that the “contract bar” applied because the employees’ petition was submitted just after the new contract was signed, even though the employees had no way of knowing whether or when that signing would occur.

This prompted Daoud to ask the NLRB in Washington to review the case. Because Daoud recently accepted a job with Transdev outside the OPEIU’s monopoly bargaining control, the Request for Review asks the NLRB to recognize his coworker Sheila Currie as the new petitioner to represent the interests of the workers who signed the decertification petition.

The Request exposes the arbitrariness of the “contract bar,” pointing out that the NLRB Regional Director applied it “merely because the Union ‘won the race’ and signed the contract ten days” before Daoud submitted the petition, even though the petition clearly demonstrated the employees’ interest in voting the union out.

VA and Puerto Rico Cases Follow Groundbreaking Effort by DE Poultry Workers

The Virginia Transdev employees, and a Puerto Rico armored transit guard who submitted a similar Request for Review on behalf of his coworkers with Foundation aid in January, are now battling the “contract bar” like Delaware Mountaire Farms poultry worker Oscar Cruz Sosa and his coworkers. For almost a year now, Cruz Sosa and his fellow employees have been fighting United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union bosses’ attempts to use the “contract bar” to block their valid petition for a decertification vote. The Mountaire employees are now waiting for the NLRB to issue a ruling on their case.

In that case, UFCW officials claim that the “contract bar” should apply to bar any elections at Mountaire, despite an NLRB Regional Director’s decision allowing the vote because the union contract contains an invalid forced-dues clause.

When the UFCW bosses asked the full NLRB to review the Region’s order allowing the election, Cruz Sosa’s attorneys filed a brief urging that, if the Board granted review, it should use the opportunity to review the entire non-statutory “contract bar” policy. The Board is now doing just that. The UFCW union bosses are even arguing that the impounded ballots already cast by Mountaire workers should be destroyed, claiming the election should never have been held.

The Requests for Review submitted by Foundation staff attorneys for the Puerto Rico guard and Virginia Transdev employees each request that the NLRB should either grant review or least hold the case until a decision is issued in Cruz Sosa’s case.

1 May 2021

Las Vegas Security Guards Win $4,200 in Case Challenging Illegal Dues Seizures

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2021 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

SPFPA officials rushed monopoly bargaining contract in attempt to trap workers in forced dues

Las Vegas security guards

“You can stand up to the union and not fail and not have fear of retaliation,” security guard Justin Stephens told the Las Vegas Review-Journal about his and his coworkers’ victory.

LAS VEGAS, NV – Dozens of Las Vegas security guards employed by North American Security won a settlement last October against the Security, Police & Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) union, which they had charged in April with illegally seizing dues from their paychecks. The guards received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation.

SPFPA union officials must now refund more than $4,200 to the security guards, whose timely requests to resign from union membership and cease dues deductions were wrongfully rejected by union officials who hastily extended their monopoly bargaining agreement with the guards’ employer.

Union Officials Secretly Struck Contract after Guards Voiced Dissatisfaction

According to guard Justin Stephens’ April 2020 charge filed at Region 28 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Phoenix, SPFPA officials extended the bargaining contract with North American Security on January 31, 2020. The extension occurred one day after Stephens and the vast majority of his fellow employees at the federal courthouse in Las Vegas sent letters to the union stating that they no longer wanted it as the monopoly bargaining agent in their workplace.

The charge explained that Stephens later submitted a batch of letters to SPFPA officials in which he and his fellow employees tried to exercise their rights to resign union membership and stop dues deductions from their paychecks. These letters were sent within what the employees believed to be the contract’s window for exercising their right to cut off dues payments.

However, the charge asserted, the union “did not acknowledge the timely revocation the employees made on the anniversary” of the contract, ostensibly because the union officials’ hurried contract extension eliminated any opportunity for employees to cut off union dues before the existing contract’s March 31 expiration.

SPFPA bosses kept collecting full union dues “from all non-member bargaining unit employees” in violation of their right under the National Labor Relations Act to refrain from union activities and support, according to the charge. Stephens’ charge also asserted that the union’s sudden extension of the monopoly bargaining contract after the workers notified the union about their opposition amounted to “an apparent attempt to avoid a decertification” vote to remove the union.

Because Nevada has enacted Right to Work protections for employees, union bosses are additionally forbidden by state law from requiring any employee to join or pay dues or fees to a union as a condition of employment.

The settlement requires SPFPA officials to process any timely resignations by security guards and notify North American Security to cease dues deductions from those whose resignations they have already processed.

Foundation Wins Refunds of Unlawful Dues Seized from Dozens of Guards

SPFPA bosses must also return all dues seized from Stephens’ and his coworkers’ paychecks in violation of their rights. In the future, the settlement stipulates, union officials must always “accept and timely process” resignations and requests to cut off dues.

“I want people to see this and see that it’s possible,” Stephens told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a story about his case. “You can stand up to the union and not fail and not have fear of retaliation.”

“It’s good news that Mr. Stephens and his hardworking colleagues have gotten back dues that were illegally taken from them by SPFPA union bosses who have demonstrated they are more interested in stuffing their coffers with union dues than respecting the wishes of the rank-and-file workers they claim to ‘represent,’” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LeJeunesse. “This type of legal trickery used by union bosses to stay in power despite the objections of most workers shows why the NLRB should eliminate its numerous policies that block workers from removing an unwanted union.”

“Ultimately, the root of this problem is the federal labor law which grants union bosses monopoly bargaining powers, allowing them to force their so-called ‘representation’ on workers who don’t want it and believe they would be better off without it,” added LaJeunesse.

“You can stand up to the union and not fail and not have fear of retaliation,” security guard Justin Stephens told the Las Vegas Review-Journal about his and his coworkers’ victory.

27 Apr 2021

Flight Attendant Sues Transport Union for Religious Discrimination

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2021 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Flight Attendant Sues Transport Union for Religious Discrimination

Please stow your religious objections: TWU union bosses forced Allegiant Air flight attendant Annlee Post to fund the union in violation of her religious beliefs and federal law

Please stow your religious objections: TWU union bosses forced Allegiant Air flight attendant Annlee Post to fund the union in violation of her religious beliefs and federal law.

KNOXVILLE, TN – Allegiant Air flight attendant Annlee Post filed a federal lawsuit in November against Transport Workers Union of America Local 577 (TWU) because the union refused to accommodate her religious beliefs. She received free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

Post is a Christian, and she objects to funding the TWU on religious grounds. As recognized in the 2015 EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Supreme Court decision, Post is not required to satisfy any special requirements to merit religious accommodation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

To exercise her rights, Post sent two letters to union officials making them aware of her objection and asking that her dues payments be redirected to charity.

EEOC Issues “Right to Sue” Letter to Union Objector

When TWU officials refused this request, she filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the union.

The EEOC was unable to resolve Post’s charge, but it issued a “Right to Sue” letter in August 2020, allowing her to file a federal lawsuit against the union to protect her rights. Post then filed a complaint in federal court alleging TWU officials illegally discriminated against her by refusing to accommodate her and threatening to revoke her bidding privileges.

Bidding privileges control a flight attendant’s ability to schedule trips, work, vacations and days off. Post asked the court for an order stopping TWU officials from requiring her and other employees to pay union fees that violate their sincere religious beliefs.

Post’s lawsuit also alleges that union officials violated the United States Constitution’s First and Fourteenth Amendments, which require union officials to follow specific procedures to demand forced dues payments. The union did not follow those procedures here.

Union officials did not provide a notice of how the forced-fee amount was calculated and an audit of the union’s financial records. Nor did they give a notice of the procedure to challenge the fee amount.

Federal Law Prevents Union Threats to Workplace Privileges

Even though she lives in Tennessee, which has enacted Right to Work protections so workers who object to union membership can freely abstain from funding union activities for any reason, Post is subject to the Railway Labor Act (RLA) because she works for an airline.

The RLA overrides state Right to Work laws and allows union officials to compel union fees, but only “as a condition of continued employment.” The RLA does not permit forced-dues payments based on any other condition — such as bidding privileges. Post’s Foundation staff attorneys argue that TWU’s monopoly bargaining agreement with Allegiant is invalid because it requires dues payments to maintain bidding privileges, whereas payment “as a condition of continued employment” is the only legal forced unionism agreement under the RLA.

“Annlee Post and others like her should not have to choose between privileges at work and their religious beliefs,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens. “TWU bosses knew about Ms. Post’s objections, but refused to accommodate them as longstanding federal law requires. They instead threatened to take away her bidding privileges, simply because she would not fund their organization in violation of her religious faith.

“This case is a reminder of why no worker should be forced to fund a union with which he or she disagrees, no matter whether their objection is religious or for any other reason,” Semmens said.

1 Mar 2021

Union-Label Biden Labor Board Appointee Moves to Scuttle Foundation Cases

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, March/April 2021 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Unprecedented: Biden removes NLRB top prosecutor despite 11 months left on his term

WASHINGTON, DC – With National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys having won numerous National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) cases in recent years curtailing coercive union practices, union bosses pushed the Biden Administration to take unprecedented measures to protect Big Labor’s power over rank-and-file workers.

In January, top union bosses, including Service Employees International Union (SEIU) chief Mary Kay Henry, formally demanded that upon taking office President Biden make the unprecedented move of removing NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, despite nearly a year remaining on his term. Union officials were furious Robb had frequently sided with Foundation-backed employees in many cases during his tenure, including cases in which workers successfully challenged union boss demands that workers subsidize their spending to put Biden in the White House.

Just 23 minutes after taking office on January 20, in response to Big Labor’s demands, Biden took the legally dubious action of removing Robb. Robb’s Senate-confirmed term runs through November 2021.

In the 85-year history of the NLRB, no previous NLRB General Counsel had ever been fired before their four-year term — meant to protect the office from political pressure — expired. For example, Robb’s predecessor, Obama-era NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin, served almost a full year into Trump’s presidency to complete his term.

Following Robb’s unprecedented removal, Biden designated union partisan Peter Ohr as “Acting General Counsel.” Within days of his installation, the ersatz General Counsel moved to undo actions taken by Robb in Foundation-backed cases, in each instance reversing course to the benefit of Big Labor officials.

On January 29, Ohr ordered Seattle NLRB officials to stop prosecuting the Embassy Suites Pioneer Square hotel and UNITE HERE Local 8 union officials for making a backroom agreement designed to unionize housekeepers through a coercive “Card Check.” The “Card Check” bypassed an NLRB-supervised secret-ballot election. The very next day after Ohr’s order, Boston NLRB officials also pulled their prosecution of Boston Yotel and UNITE HERE Local 26 officials in a similar case brought by four Foundation-represented housekeepers.

Biden’s “Acting” Appointee Targets Foundation Cases Scheduled for Trial

In each case, Foundation staff attorneys were prepared to argue at trial that the “top-down” agreements for “Card Check” were illegal and tainted the installation of the union. But by pulling complaints weeks prior to when trials were set to begin before Administrative Law Judges (ALJs), Ohr blocked the cases from even being heard.

Those orders were then followed by a flurry of other activity by Ohr that included instructing local NLRB officials not to move forward with cases related to enforcing workers’ Beck rights, which protect them from being required to fund union political activities.

“Biden’s intent in firing Robb was obvious: So his handpicked NLRB replacement could move unimpeded to protect the privileges of his union boss political allies at the expense of individual workers’ rights,” observed National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens. “Robb often sided with Foundation-backed workers, which made him a threat to Big Labor that needed to be eliminated.”

Though Ohr, at Biden’s behest, is weaponizing the NLRB against independent-minded workers’ rights so the union elite can escape scrutiny, are already before the full Board and by law out of the General Counsel’s control.

Through August 27, 2021, the Trump-appointed Board majority will retain their seats and are immune to Biden’s whims. That means these cases for workers still could take down erroneous union boss-friendly precedents that have harmed workers for decades.

Groundbreaking Foundation Cases Still Advancing to Full Labor Board

Among the Foundation cases pending at the full NLRB in Washington are challenges by three separate groups of workers to the pernicious “contract bar” doctrine (see page 1), a separate case about “neutrality agreements” for Corpus Christi, TX-based nurse Marissa Zamora and Michigan AT&T employee Veronica Rolader’s challenge to restrictive “window period” policies which let union bosses collect forced dues even after a contract has expired.

Semmens added: “The Foundation is proud to stand with workers challenging all types of union coercion, and will continue to stand ready to defend workers against Big Labor and, when necessary, the Biden-Harris Administration.”

1 Feb 2021

Foundation Battles Union Restrictions on First Amendment Rights at Ninth Circuit

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2021 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Cases challenge coercive, anti-Janus “escape periods” concocted by union bosses

Christopher Woods (right), seen here with Mark Janus, is taking up the latter’s fight by challenging an ASEA union boss scheme that traps workers in union payments even after they have dissociated from the union.

Christopher Woods (right), seen here with Mark Janus, is taking up the latter’s fight by challenging an ASEA union boss scheme that traps workers in union payments even after they have dissociated from the union.

SAN FRANSCISO, CA – The 2014 National Right to Work Foundation victory for Pam Harris in the Harris v. Quinn Supreme Court case established that union bosses violate the First Amendment when they skim dues from homecare providers’ state subsidies without their consent. Now, seven California homecare providers have just appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals their federal lawsuit against Service Employee International Union (SEIU) Local 2015 officials for continuing to skim dues in violation of their rights.

According to their suit, SEIU honchos enforced a phony “escape period” on the homecare providers, illegally limiting the time in which they could stop the deductions. The providers’ suit says this contravenes the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. The Court not only held that the government cannot force individuals to subsidize union activities as a condition of employment, but also that government agencies can only deduct union payments after receiving a clear and knowing waiver of their First Amendment right not to make such payments.

Dues-Skim Scam: SEIU Took Dues Without Informing Providers of Rights

Although the plaintiffs, Delores Polk, Heather Herrick, Lien Loi, Peter Loi, Susan McKay, Jolene Montoya and Scott Ungar, are not public employees, they were designated as such solely for the purpose of monopoly unionization. Then that was used as justification for the State of California to skim union dues from their payments at the behest of SEIU officials. The seven participate in the In-Home Support Services (IHSS) program, which allots Medicaid funds to those who provide home-based aid to people with disabilities.

Polk and the other plaintiffs recount in the lawsuit that SEIU union bosses began taking cuts of their Medicaid subsidies after confusing phone calls or mandatory orientation sessions. After the plaintiffs contacted the SEIU attempting to exercise their right to stop the flow of dues, SEIU operatives informed them that they could only opt out of union dues during short union-created “escape periods” of 10-30 days once per year.

The lawsuit also points out that the federal law governing IHSS forbids diverting any part of Medicaid payments to “any other party” besides the providers. In fact, in rulemaking urged by National Right to Work Foundation comments, the federal agency that administers Medicaid confirmed that skimming such payments for unions violates the Medicaid statute passed by Congress.

The seven plaintiffs now seek a ruling that both the taking of union dues without their knowing consent and the policy restricting the providers from ending the dues deductions are unconstitutional. The providers also seek refunds of all money that they and any other IHSS program participants had taken from their payments through the illegal scheme.

Alaska Union Bosses Confine Prison Employee in Unconstitutional Deductions

Also at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Alaska vocational instructor Christopher Woods recently filed an appeal in his case challenging an “escape period” scheme to block him and other Alaska state employees from exercising their First Amendment rights recognized in Janus.

In a November 2019 email, Woods, who has worked as a vocational instructor at Goose Creek Correctional Center since 2013, informed Alaska State Employees’ Association (ASEA) officials he was exercising his Janus right to stop all union dues deductions. Rather than respect his rights, union officials rejected his request and told Woods that he could only “opt out” and not be a union member with written notice to this office during a 10-day period each year.

Woods persisted on December 2, 2019, submitting to both ASEA officials and the payroll office of the Corrections Department another email asking to cut off dues. Although the payroll office confirmed to both Woods and the ASEA that it had received the request, an ASEA official responded by merely telling the payroll office that she was “still communicating with [Woods] on the matter,” the complaint says. Woods reports in his lawsuit that he has “not received any further communications” from either the ASEA or the payroll office, and that full dues are still being seized from his paychecks.

Foundation String of Triumphs Against Janus Restrictions Unlikely to End

“‘Escape periods’ are shameless union boss-concocted schemes that only exist to keep dues money rolling into their coffers after employees have clearly communicated that they do not wish to support the union,” observed National Right to Work Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse. “Although these arrangements are egregious in any context, trapping homecare providers in dues-skim schemes which deprive them of money they receive for taking care of the disabled is particularly unconscionable, and additionally breaches federal law which prohibits those funds from going anywhere other than to the people giving care.

“Whether it’s the landmark victories in Harris and Janus or the eight recent lawsuits in which Foundation staff attorneys have knocked down ‘escape period’ policies and secured refunds of illegal dues for workers, the Foundation has a track record of success in these cases. Union bosses shouldn’t hold their breath in the hopes of keeping seized dues,” LaJeunesse added.

1 Feb 2021

More Workers Ask Supreme Court to Refund Unconstitutional Forced Dues

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2021 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Four Foundation-backed cert petitions now filed at High Court with millions at stake

Foundation staff attorneys asked the Supreme Court to hear Nathaniel Ogle’s case, which seeks refunds for him and his coworkers of forced union dues that were seized from their paychecks in violation of the First Amendment.

Foundation staff attorneys asked the Supreme Court to hear Nathaniel Ogle’s case, which seeks refunds for him and his coworkers of forced union dues that were seized from their paychecks in violation of the First Amendment.

WASHINGTON, DC – Across the nation, public employees continue to seek free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, to fight for their First Amendment rights recognized in the landmark Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court ruling. Janus was argued and won by Foundation staff attorneys.

Janus affirmed that public employees cannot be required to subsidize union activities as a condition of employment and that union payments can only be deducted with an employee’s freely given consent.

Despite this clear ruling, union bosses have almost without exception refused to return money seized from workers in violation of the First Amendment. In response, Foundation staff attorneys are now assisting workers in more than a dozen cases seeking to force union officials to return illegal forced fees to tens of thousands of employees, with four such cases now pending at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Union Officials Refuse to Refund Illegally Seized Dues Post-Janus

In November, attorneys for Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection employees Kiernan Wholean and James Grillo filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court. It is asking the Justices to hear their case, seeking back years of union dues that they and their coworkers were forced to pay to Service Employees International Union (SEIU) union bosses in violation of the First Amendment. Their petition follows one filed in October for Ohio Department of Taxation employee Nathaniel Ogle, whose case seeks to require AFSCME union bosses to similarly return forced fees seized in violation of the Janus standard from potentially thousands of Ohio government employees.

With these two new cert petitions, there are now seven pending before the Supreme Court on this issue, four of which were filed for workers by Foundation staff attorneys. That includes the continuation of the original Janus case brought by Mark Janus.

If the Supreme Court decides to hear any one of these cases, a favorable ruling would create another groundbreaking precedent, potentially prompting the return in Foundation cases alone of over $130 million to employees fighting to get back money taken in contravention of their Janus rights.

Wholean and Grillo, who are not members of SEIU,

originally filed their case in 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut shortly before the High Court decided Janus. The State ceased deducting dues from their paychecks for SEIU following a letter to the State Comptroller from a National Right to Work Foundation attorney, which threatened legal action for any dues deductions from non-members that continued after Janus.

However, SEIU union officials continue to refuse to refund dues that they took from Wholean, Grillo and other non-members in violation of the Janus First Amendment standard before the decision, even though they knew the employees never consented to pay.

Ogle filed his case at the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio just after Janus was decided. Like Wholean and Grillo, he was never a member of the union but had mandatory union fees deducted from his paychecks. The Ohio affiliate of the national AFSCME union has around 30,000 public employees across the Buckeye State under its bargaining monopoly. If a class is eventually certified in Ogle’s case, it could potentially include thousands of workers.

Foundation Attorneys: High Court Must Reject Union Attempts to Dodge Janus

Lower courts in these and other lawsuits have accepted union lawyers’ so-called “good faith” contentions for letting union bosses keep the dues collected in violation of the non-members’ constitutional rights. This is at odds with the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling, which did not proscribe retroactive relief. Indeed, it observed that union officials have been “on notice” for years that mandatory fees likely would not comply with the High Court’s heightened level of First Amendment scrutiny, articulated in the 2012 Supreme Court decision in the Foundation’s Knox v. SEIU case.

Foundation staff attorneys point out in the petitions before the Supreme Court that a “good faith” defense has never existed under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, the statute under which these lawsuits are brought. Section 1983 specifically imposes liability on those who violate the constitutional rights of others while acting “under color of ” existing law.

Not all judges, however, have been convinced by union officials’ dubious “good faith” argument for keeping the unconstitutionally seized payments. In Wenzig, another Foundation-backed case, a majority of a Third Circuit panel denied the existence of such a defense. In a supplemental brief, Foundation attorneys cited the confusion among lower courts as a significant reason the court should hear the continuation of Janus.

“With seven petitions on this issue now pending with the High Court and more to be filed soon, it is time the Supreme Court hears this issue and ends the denial of justice for tens of thousands of non-member government employees whose First Amendment rights were violated,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, the federal statute under which all these cases were filed, was specifically intended to allow individuals to remedy the deprivation of their rights when it occurs under color of law. It’s outrageous that union bosses have thus far been allowed to keep money seized in violation of the First Amendment because it was authorized by then-existing but unconstitutional law.

“That result is especially specious because, as the Supreme Court recognized in Janus, union bosses have been ‘on notice’ since 2012 that forcing government employees to pay union fees was likely unconstitutional,” Mix added.

1 Feb 2021

NLRB to Prosecute Boston Hotel, UNITE HERE Union for Coercive “Card Check” Deal

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2021 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Housekeepers say employer illegally assisted union organizers during unionization push

Yotel housekeepers (from left) Lady Laura Javier, Cindy J. Alarcon Vasquez and Yesica Perez Barrios got the NLRB to prosecute union and hotel officials for using a coercive “Card Check” drive to force them under union control.

Yotel housekeepers (from left) Lady Laura Javier, Cindy J. Alarcon Vasquez and Yesica Perez Barrios got the NLRB to prosecute union and hotel officials for using a coercive “Card Check” drive to force them under union control.

BOSTON, MA – With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, in December 2019 four housekeepers at the Yotel hotel in Boston filed charges against their employer and UNITE HERE Local 26, after the hotel illegally assisted union officials with foisting their “representation” on workers during a “Card Check” organizing drive.

Now, in response to the charges filed for Cindy J. Alarcon Vasquez, Lady Laura Javier, Yesica Perez Barrios and Danela Guzman, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Regional Director has issued a complaint to prosecute the hotel and UNITE HERE for violating the housekeepers’ rights under federal law.

Agreeing with the workers’ Foundation staff attorneys, the complaint charges the hotel with illegally assisting union organizers by providing the kind of assistance the Board has long held to be illegal when it benefits workers’ decertification efforts, and charges the union with illegally accepting the unlawful assistance.

NLRB: Employer Illegally Aided Union Campaign

The NLRB has long held that an employer taints employees’ efforts to remove a union if it gives those workers support that amounts to more than “ministerial aid.” Under that standard, the Board has held that an employer can’t provide a list of bargaining unit employees or allow use of company resources when employees are trying to remove a union, because this assistance would tarnish the results of the election.

Foundation attorneys in this case argue that, under the same standard, Yotel Boston similarly tainted the union’s organizing campaign by providing assistance to UNITE HERE union organizers.

The charges, which resulted in the NLRB complaint, say the hotel illegally assisted the union’s coercive “Card Check” drive, during which employees were pressured by union operatives into signing union cards. These cards were later counted as “votes,” and were used to bypass a secret-ballot election that would have determined whether the workers actually support union representation.

Foundation Cases Challenge Unequal Standard

The case is not the first in which the NLRB has addressed this double standard. In July, NLRB Region 19 issued a similar complaint in another case involving a hotel worker whose employer illegally assisted UNITE HERE Local 8 union officials in its “Card Check” drive at Embassy Suites in Seattle. There the NLRB also agreed that the employer had provided more than “ministerial aid,” and therefore UNITE HERE officials “did not represent an uncoerced majority of the unit.”

“The NLRB is finally addressing the double standard that for too long has favored union bosses in their coercive “Card Check” unionization drives,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Union bosses pressure workers and get illegal assistance from employers to impose their so-called representation on workers, but they cry foul when that same assistance is given to workers attempting to remove unwanted forced representation.

“With these two complaints against UNITE HERE union bosses, the Board is correctly finding that what qualifies as more than ‘ministerial assistance and support,’ and violates the National Labor Relations Act, cannot depend on whether the employer is helping outside union organizers impose unionization on workers or is assisting workers in exercising their right to remove an unwanted union,” Mix added