26 Sep 2023

Foundation-Backed Workers Notch Victories Over Dues-Hungry UAW Bosses

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, July/August 2023 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

UAW caught using threats and coercion to illegally seize workers’ dues

Shiphrah Green Louisville Courier Journal Foundation Action

Ford employee Shiphrah Green excoriated UAW bosses in the Louisville Courier Journal over their blatant disregard for her rights. Foundation attorneys are helping her and others battle the notoriously corrupt union.

LOUISVILLE, KY – United Auto Workers (UAW) union officials have a well-deserved reputation for looking out for their own interests while throwing rank-and-file workers under the bus. The most prominent recent example is the corruption and embezzlement scandal, in which federal investigators revealed that UAW officials had siphoned millions of dollars in workers’ money to fund opulent golf vacations in luxury condos and private villas, spa and amusement park visits, $60,000 cigar-buying sprees, and much more.

But the federal corruption probe that led to eleven top UAW bosses pleading guilty, including former union presidents Gary Jones and Dennis Williams, is hardly the only time greedy UAW bosses abused their government-granted monopoly bargaining powers.

In a series of recent cases brought by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys against the UAW, workers are utilizing the Foundation’s free legal aid to vindicate their rights in the face of illegal dues demands by UAW officials.

Foundation-won Settlements Force UAW to Return Money to KY, IA Workers

Shiphrah Green, an employee of Ford Motor Company’s Louisville Assembly Plant, prevailed over UAW Local 862 bosses with free Foundation legal aid in April. UAW bosses were forced to settle and return money they had unlawfully taken from Green’s pay.

Green’s federal charges against the union maintained not only that UAW officials had made her jump through unnecessary hoops to exercise her right to cut off union dues, but also that UAW bosses made threats against her job when she tried to resign, with one union official warning her “if it were up to me, you’d lose your job for leaving the union.” Green’s settlement also forced UAW officials to refrain from such illegal threats in the future.

Meanwhile in Iowa, four employees of air filter manufacturer Donaldson won a recent settlement in which UAW officials were required to return over $1,000 in illegally-seized dues.

In each Donaldson worker’s case, UAW bosses had either refused to stop dues deductions despite producing no original documentation showing the workers had consented to such deductions in the first place, or had kept seizing money after an employee resigned union membership and revoked authorization to deduct dues, which should have been effective in stopping the flow of dues.

Because Ms. Green and the Donaldson workers reside in Right to Work states, the Foundation-won cases mean they will be free from all union financial support going forward.

Philly Public Defender Hits UAW with Charges

Even in non-Right to Work states where union officials have the power to compel workers to pay some fees under threat of termination, UAW bosses still go far beyond what is legal in their greedy forced-dues demands.

For example, Foundation staff attorneys recently filed a case for Philadelphia public defender Brunilda Vargas. Vargas, a vocal opponent of the UAW’s unionization drive, was told by UAW organizers that the union would reduce her and her coworkers’ wages if they did not grant the union the power to automatically deduct union dues directly from their paychecks.

Not only is the threat illegal, but further, employees can never be required to authorize automatic dues deductions from their paychecks under long-established federal law. This is true even in a state like Pennsylvania where workers lack the protection of a Right to Work law. Vargas’ charge, filed in June, is now being investigated.

“American workers likely have a plethora of reasons for wanting nothing to do with UAW union officials, including but not limited to the dizzying corruption in the union that has led to so many union officials going to prison,” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens. “As Foundation attorneys have experienced, UAW officials will often resort to clearly illegal methods to squeeze money out of dissenting workers in violation of federal law.”

“Union bosses who cannot convince workers to pay union dues voluntarily should not be allowed to seize union dues under threat of termination,” Semmens added.

25 Aug 2023

Former Connecticut State Trooper Wins Over $250,000 in Political Discrimination Suit

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, July/August 2023 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

CSPU union upended trooper’s career after he refused to fund union politics

Connecticut State Trooper Joseph Mercer

Joseph Mercer fought back with free Foundation legal aid when the CSPU union blocked his promotion because he challenged union political activities and told others about their rights.

HARTFORD, CT – In 2015, then-Connecticut State Trooper Joseph Mercer received a promotion to Operations Sergeant of the Emergency Services Unit, a position that gave him significant responsibility over emergency services training and field operations. Mercer gained this prestigious position through his seventeen years of experience as a trooper, which included a tense situation with an armed suspect barricaded in a hotel.

But behind the scenes, Mercer was a target of Connecticut State Police Union (CSPU) officials, who resented Mercer because of his resistance to funding union politics with his own money. After CSPU President Andrew Matthews filed two baseless grievances against Mercer, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) demoted him to a position that offered fewer overtime opportunities and involved less time in the field.

Mercer slammed CSPU and DESPP officials with a federal lawsuit in 2016 with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation, accusing police union officials of retaliating against him for exercising his right to stop funding union politics.

This April, Foundation attorneys forced CSPU and DESPP to back down and settle the case. Both parties must now pay $260,500 as a condition of ending the suit.

CSPU Union President Targeted Dissident Trooper Immediately After Promotion

Just a month after Mercer received his promotion, CSPU President Matthews filed a grievance over Sergeant Mercer’s appointment.

Matthews’ grievance claimed that there had been no “selection process” to fill the position, despite the fact that none of Sergeant Mercer’s union-member predecessors had undergone any particular kind of selection process before they got the job. Matthews also filed a second baseless grievance, alleging Mercer had mismanaged the incident involving the armed suspect barricaded in a hotel. State police officials had never expressed dissatisfaction with how Mercer handled the situation.

In October 2015, after meeting in private with the union president, then-DESPP Commissioner Dora Schriro transferred Mercer out of his Operations Sergeant position to an administrative post. Prior to this demotion, Mercer had received no warnings, reprimands, or other disciplinary actions regarding the incident referenced in Matthews’ grievance. Mercer filed his lawsuit with Foundation aid in February 2016.

Mercer’s Foundation attorneys cranked up the heat on both the union and DESPP officials in May 2022, when a District Court judge ordered DESPP Commissioner James Rovella, who had replaced Schriro, to turn over additional documents that might provide insight into the circumstances surrounding Mercer’s firing.

Rather than follow through with the judge’s discovery order and continue the fight against Mercer, CSPU and DESPP reversed course and settled the case in April 2023. The settlement categorizes the vast majority of the $260,500 payout as “compensatory damages” due directly to Mercer.

Settlement Underscores Importance of Public Servants’ Janus Rights

“We are proud to have defended Sergeant Mercer’s rights and secured him a settlement that vindicates his free association,” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director William Messenger. “However, it’s disgraceful that CSPU union officials targeted Mercer, a dedicated public safety officer, with such a retribution scheme in the first place. Public servants should not have to endure multi-year lawsuits just so they can refrain from supporting union politics they oppose.”

“Situations like these demonstrate why the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME decision, which the U.S. Supreme Court decided while Mercer’s case was ongoing, is so important,” Messenger added. “As demonstrated in Mercer’s case, unelected union officials often wield their enormous clout over government to serve the union’s self interests over the public interest and employee interests. That’s why it’s vital that public employees can exercise their First Amendment Janus right to cut off all financial support for union officials this way.”

22 Aug 2023

Foundation Slams NLRB, ILA Union Officials in Brief to Fourth Circuit Court

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, July/August 2023 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Foundation defends union-free SC port workers who would lose their jobs under NLRB ruling

Port of Charleston state-of-the-art Hugh K. Leatherman terminal

Foundation staff attorneys are fighting to ensure that Charleston’s state-of-the-art Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal doesn’t become a safe harbor for ILA union bosses’ anti-worker schemes.

CHARLESTON, SC – National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have joined the fight against the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) union’s ongoing gambit to idle Charleston’s state-of-the-art Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal if the union can’t get control of all jobs at the facility.

Hostile Union Power Play Seeks to Put Non-Union Workers Out of Job

The Foundation recently filed a legal brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) v. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In the case, the SCPA is challenging the Biden NLRB’s ruling permitting ILA union bosses to file multi-million-dollar lawsuits against any cargo carrier that docks at Leatherman until the union gains control of all crane lift equipment jobs at the facility.

Since its opening in March 2021, some of the work at Leatherman Terminal has been performed by non-union state employees, some of whom have worked for the SCPA for years. The brief argues that if ILA union bosses’ power grab succeeds, it will “cause grievous harm to 270 State port workers and their families.”

The Foundation “submits this brief to provide a voice for the otherwise voiceless non-union State employees, and to give the Court a unique perspective on the stakes involved for those workers and their families,” the brief states. The brief highlights the dire consequences of the ILA maneuver for control of Leatherman’s 270 employees, who are otherwise protected by state law from monopoly union control.

According to the brief, South Carolina spent over $1 billion to develop the terminal, but due to the ILA’s power grab “the only way for South Carolina’s $1 billion Leatherman Terminal to be usable would be for the State to turn the facility over to a private employer with an ILA contract and discharge the 270 State employees.” The devastating effects for current employees and their families wouldn’t stop there if the ILA is victorious in the case. Even if the fired state workers were to seek new employment at Leatherman with a private contractor under the union’s control, the ILA union’s seniority provisions and hiring rules would likely bar them from being rehired.

ILA Union Officials Have History of Corruption

The attempt by ILA union officials to seek total control over workers at the Leatherman terminal is hardly the only underhanded tactic the ILA has been linked to. In 2022, the New York Daily News reported ILA chiefs negotiated “deals” where mob-linked longshoremen in New York and New Jersey could get paid for 27 hours of “work” per day.

“ILA union officials, with assistance from the NLRB, are directly working to destroy the livelihoods of these 270 South Carolinians,” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens. “The NLRB’s blatant disregard of the rights and wellbeing of workers and siding with union tyrants is outrageous.”

“The non-union port workers who have called Leatherman their workplace for over a decade must be protected,” added Semmens.

18 Aug 2023

Foundation Fights For Starbucks Workers Seeking to Oust Union

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, July/August 2023 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Majority of workers at flagship NYC Starbucks Roastery want decertification vote

Starbucks Reserve Roastery Storefront

NEW YORK, NY – Union bosses and their bought-and-paid-for political allies have been touting Starbucks as the latest and greatest frontier in union organizing. But, as soon as legally permitted after several high-profile Starbucks unionization efforts, workers are already seeking to vote out union officials.

Kevin Caesar, an employee of the high-end Starbucks Reserve Roastery location in Manhattan, sought out Foundation legal aid this May. He sought assistance in submitting a petition backed by a majority of his colleagues to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a vote to remove, or “decertify,” Starbucks Workers United (SBWU), and their puppet-masters at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), from the Roastery. Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), workers must wait one year after a union is installed before seeking to remove it, meaning Caesar and his colleagues essentially filed their decertification petition as soon as allowed by the law.

“We have seen our workplace both with and without the union. We believe that the union is looking out for itself more than it is looking out for Starbucks partners, who do not want forced dues and who can advocate for ourselves,” stated Caesar about why he wants to be free of the union.

“That is why a majority of us have decided we would be better off without the union. The fact that the union officials have forced us to go through this decertification process despite the majority of workers stating they do not want to be represented by this union shows how little regard the union has for the will of the workers,” he added. “We call on union officials to respect our rights and not attempt to fight this vote.”

With the petition filed, the NLRB should now promptly schedule a secret ballot election to determine whether a majority of workers want to end union officials’ power to impose a contract, including forced dues, on the workers. However, SBWU officials have already announced they will seek to block the vote, a matter Foundation attorneys quickly opposed in a brief to the NLRB.

Worker Dissatisfaction with Unions Growing Nationwide

The Starbucks workers are just the latest example of growing dissatisfaction with union officials’ so-called “representation.” Currently, worker requests for Foundation aid in decertifying an unwanted union are at an all-time high. NLRB statistics similarly show a 20% increase in decertification petitions last year versus 2021.

Unfortunately, the NLRB’s union decertification process is prone to union boss-created roadblocks, which can impact the Starbucks workers if union officials plot to stay in power regardless of workers’ wishes. Foundation-backed NLRB reforms from 2020, collectively known as the “Election Protection Rule,” have made it somewhat easier for workers to escape unwanted union “representation,” by eliminating the most egregious “blocking charge” tactics used by union bosses to delay or stop decertification elections entirely. “Blocking charges” are unverified union boss allegations of employer misconduct, often unrelated to workers’ desire to decertify.

Currently, the Biden-appointed NLRB majority is conducting rulemaking to roll back these protections and make it much harder for workers to decertify a union.

Foundation Provides Legal Notice to Starbucks Employees

After being in contact with multiple Starbucks workers interested in how to resist union control, the Foundation issued a legal notice informing employees of the coffee chain of their right to petition for a vote to oust an unpopular union.

“No worker anywhere should be forced under so-called union ‘representation’ they oppose,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Starbucks workers around the nation that fall victim to union tyranny should know they can turn to Foundation staff attorneys for assistance.”

“Foundation staff attorneys are now fighting to ensure that these workers are not denied the vote that they are entitled to under federal law to remove union control they oppose,” continued Mix. “Union bosses should not be allowed to keep their grip on power simply by disenfranchising those they claim to ‘represent.’”

3 Aug 2023

Foundation: Texas Taxpayers Shouldn’t Be Forced to Fund Union Activities

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, May/June 2023 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Brief says Janus explains why Texas Supreme Court must invalidate ‘official time’ scam

Don’t Mess with Taxes: The Foundation urged the Texas Supreme Court (above) in recent legal briefs to quash the City of Austin’s scheme funneling taxpayer money to union ideological activities.

Don’t Mess with Taxes: The Foundation urged the Texas Supreme Court (above) in recent legal briefs to quash the City of Austin’s scheme funneling taxpayer money to union ideological activities.

AUSTIN, TX – Union officials spend billions of dollars to influence the political system every election cycle. This is why they are so desperate for forced-dues power — it gives them a guaranteed stream of revenue to sustain their agendas, regardless of whether workers support the union hierarchy’s aims.

But workers are increasingly taking advantage of their rights under Right to Work laws and the landmark National Right to Work Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision to refrain from financially supporting union bosses of whom they do not approve.

Union bosses in Austin, TX, have apparently worked around this dilemma by shifting the burden for funding the union agenda to taxpayers. Through a so-called “official time” scheme, City of Austin employees who are union officials receive compensation from the public purse for conducting union business on the clock.

‘Official Time’ Boosts Inherently Political Government Union Agenda

Foundation attorneys recently filed a brief in the Texas Supreme Court case Roger Borgelt v. City of Austin, arguing that the Foundation-won Janus decision definitively shows why Austin’s scheme violates the Texas Constitution’s prohibitions against payouts of public funds to serve private interests (known as the “Gift Clauses”). The High Court ruled in Janus that forcing public sector workers to fund any union activities as a condition of employment violates the First Amendment, and that union dues can only be deducted from a public sector worker’s paycheck with his or her freely given consent.

An “official time” scheme, which instead forces taxpayers into funding those same union activities, “conflicts with the Supreme Court’s reasons for holding in Janus that it violates the First Amendment to require public employees to subsidize union activities,” says the Foundation’s brief.

The Foundation points out in its brief the Court’s Janus holding that all public sector union undertakings “constitute speech and petitioning on matters of political…concern,” and that by funneling taxpayer money into such speech “the City is effectively paying individuals to lobby the City for a private advocacy organization and its members.”

“The notion that this political advocacy predominantly serves a public purpose, as opposed to predominantly benefiting the private organization, is untenable,” the brief reads.

The brief also refutes an assertion from a lower Texas court that “official time” payments made by the city are actually part of union officials’ compensation for their normal job duties. This defies Janus’ reasoning that public employees who are also union officials “do not act as government agents pursuing their official job duties when they act as union officials.”

“For example, in granting paid leave to employee Bob Nicks to act as the Union’s president, the City is not paying Mr. Nicks for his services as a firefighter or as a public servant,” the brief explains. “The City is paying Mr. Nicks for his services as an agent of a private organization.”

The brief also reveals the disturbing implications of the union-backed argument that taxpayer subsidies for “official time” are needed to maintain harmonious relations between the city and the union: “If respondents contend that Union officials would disrupt City services if they did not receive [‘official time’], that would make the benefit akin to the City paying protection money” to union officials, reads the brief.

Union Bosses Should Not Get Public Funds to Pursue Union Interests

“The Texas Supreme Court should recognize that union officials are not entitled to a slice of taxpayer funds to ‘bargain’ against public interests,” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse. “Texas’ Gift Clauses forbid the payout of public funds for activities that don’t have a tangible public benefit, and it’s hard to think of an arrangement that violates the Clauses more plainly than letting union bosses pursue private union business on the taxpayer dime.”

“Although Janus now protects public employees around the country from being forced to fund union activities and speech against their will, unfortunately many states and municipalities across the country permit union bosses to subsidize those same inherently political activities using direct payment of tax dollars,” LaJeunesse added.

“If union bosses cannot convince rank-and-file workers to voluntarily fund such activities as Janus requires, they should re-examine their priorities, not seek to force taxpayers to pay for what public employees will not.”

1 Aug 2023

Busted: Kroger Worker’s Card Illegally Altered to ‘Authorize’ Forced Dues

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, May/June 2023 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Employee’s UFCW union card indicating objection to financial support changed without her knowledge

Supermarket Clerk Jessica Haefner

Jessica Haefner clearly exercised her rights under Texas’ Right to Work law. Foundation attorneys will get to the bottom of who faked her consent to dues deductions and restore her rights.

HOUSTON, TX – Supermarket clerk Jessica Haefner began her job at a suburban Houston Kroger store in August 2022. She attended a mandatory meeting for new employees run by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local union agents. Despite the union’s hard-sell at the meeting, she knew her rights under Texas’ Right to Work law: Union bosses couldn’t force her to pay any dues or fees to the union to keep her job.

During the meeting, Haefner followed a union representative’s instructions to indicate on a union form that she did not want to be a part of the union or pay dues or fees. But she was shocked to discover just weeks later not only that union dues were coming out of her paycheck, but also that the union form she was required to sign had been altered to indicate she consented to those deductions.

Haefner, with free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, slammed UFCW officials and Kroger with federal charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The charges state that UFCW bosses’ and Kroger’s actions violate her rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which guarantees American private sector workers’ right to abstain from any and all union activities.

“I was lied to . . . and my rights were not only violated as an employee but as an American citizen,” said Haefner.

Employee’s Dues Form Was Altered, Forced Dues Deductions Began

According to Haefner’s charges, a UFCW agent passed out a union membership application and a dues checkoff on a single form that he claimed was mandatory for meeting attendees to complete. Another piece of onboarding literature stated that Kroger management had the “opinion that you should participate and be active in the Union.”

When Haefner asked how she could exercise her right to refrain from joining the union or paying union dues, the union agent instructed Haefner to write “$0” in the field marked “union dues” on the form.

Haefner followed these instructions. But after discovering later that union dues were indeed coming out of her paycheck, Haefner quickly obtained a copy of the form on which Kroger and UFCW officials based their dues deductions. She saw that someone had changed the dues deduction amount in the field she marked “$0” to a dollar amount to induce dues deductions from her paycheck.

UFCW Chiefs Illegally Seizing Dues from Grocery Workers Across Country

UFCW’s violation of Haefner’s rights is not an isolated incident. In Pennsylvania, Foundation staff attorneys are also representing Giant Eagle supermarket cashier Josiah Leonatti, who charges UFCW Local 1776KS union officials with refusing to accommodate his religious objections to union membership (see page 3). King Soopers grocery employees from Colorado are also receiving free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys in opposing illegal UFCW strike fines, some of which are as high as about $4,000 per worker.

“Jessica Haefner knew her rights under Texas’ popular Right to Work law and actively asserted them, yet UFCW union officials still brazenly took her money against her will,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix.

“As cases brought for workers with free Foundation legal aid show, UFCW bosses have a long and documented history of violating workers’ rights, whether through thousands of dollars in illegal strike fines, illegal religious discrimination, threatening teenagers’ jobs, and now by altering a worker’s dues authorization,” Mix added.

5 Jul 2023

Foundation Slams Biden Labor Board’s Biased Ruling in Federal Appeals Court

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, May/June 2023 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Brief contends NLRB distorted precedent to trap workers in union they oppose

A majority of J.G. Kern employees petitioned to oust the UAW, which has seen two of its former presidents (Gary Jones, right, and Dennis Williams, left) go to jail for corruption. But a biased NLRB ruling trapped the workers in UAW ranks anyway.

A majority of J.G. Kern employees petitioned to oust the UAW, which has seen two of its former presidents (Gary Jones, right, and Dennis Williams, left) go to jail for corruption. But a biased NLRB ruling trapped the workers in UAW ranks anyway.

WASHINGTON, DC – Foundation staff attorneys recently filed an amicus brief with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in a case challenging a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision reversing workers’ attempt to remove union “representation” they oppose.

In the case, J.G. Kern employees, frustrated with the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 228 union, decided to petition to decertify, or formally remove, the union from their workplace. The workers presented this majority petition to their employer, leading to the company removing its recognition of the union.

The petition contained overwhelming support from workers in favor of removing the union. Yet, after the company withdrew recognition from the union, UAW officials ran to the Biden Labor Board in an attempt to remain in power. The Biden-appointed NLRB majority sided with the union officials by re-imposing the unpopular union over the workers’ objections.

With the case now in the federal court of appeals, the Foundation filed an amicus brief arguing the NLRB’s April 2022 ruling ignores precedent and misapplies longstanding law in siding with union officials.

Decertification Rules Already Rigged Against Workers Opposed to Union Affiliation

As the brief points out, workers looking to file a petition to remove a union they oppose already face numerous hurdles due to NLRB rules, most of which are contained nowhere in the federal statute the NLRB is charged with enforcing.

For example, a petition must be gathered outside of work hours, and outside of work-related areas. Also, unless employees use certain Board-specified language in their petition, the petition is invalid. Furthermore, employees cannot ask their employer for further information regarding the decertification process or the petition will be invalid.

The Foundation’s brief observes how workers must operate “in the dark, without help from their employer, and even if they do everything right, their efforts might come to naught through no fault of their own.” It also shows how the Biden Board has made it more difficult for individual workers to express their right to decertify unwanted, unpopular unions.

Biden NLRB Aims to Force Union on Workers Who Overwhelmingly Object

Under the Board’s “certification bar” doctrine, a union that wins a secret ballot election cannot be challenged for one year after its victory is certified by the NLRB. In this case, the UAW’s certification bar ended on October 3, 2019. In November 2019, J.G. Kern employees delivered a majority-backed petition to their employer.

The Biden Board claimed, however, that because J.G. Kern did not bargain in good faith during a three-month period at the beginning of the certification year, the employees’ majority petition was invalid. According to the Biden Board, the employer’s alleged unfair labor practices prospectively “extended” the certification year beyond its normal 12-month period.

The brief highlights the disingenuousness of the Board, pointing out that “the employees would have to divine the future to know they were collecting a petition during the ‘extended certification year.’” The Foundation urges the D.C. Circuit to command the Board to follow precedent that requires the Board to determine whether there was a “nexus” between the employer’s unfair labor practices and the decertification petition.

NLRB’s Power Grab Takes Away Workers’ Rights

The Foundation’s brief emphasizes how the Board’s decision can abolish employees’ rights guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act. An example of that is the J.G. Kern workers’ petition, where it was only after the petition was gathered that the Board extended the union’s certification bar period.

The brief notes that usually “an employee’s decertification petition is presumptively valid unless there is a causal nexus between the unfair labor practice and the petition.” However, this is not the case under the J.G. Kern ruling.

Should the NLRB’s ruling be upheld, it “will further incentivize incumbent unions to file unfair labor practice charges to chill employees’ Section 7 ability to collect petitions,” the brief concludes.

“The NLRB’s blatant disregard for the rights of workers who don’t want anything to do with coercive unionism is on full display in this case,” commented Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The arbitrary cherry-picking of legal precedents to fit the Board’s agenda is outrageous, while expected, given the Biden Administration’s all-out effort to expand Big Labor’s coercive ranks.

3 Jul 2023

Teen Supermarket Cashier Fired for Refusing to Join and Fund UFCW Union

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, May/June 2023 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Union officials required teen to violate his religious beliefs or be fired


Josiah Leonatti may be young, but he’s not afraid to stand up to UFCW bosses, who got him fired over objecting to union membership and dues on religious grounds.

PITTSBURGH, PA – Josiah Leonatti, a high schooler, was fired last year for his religious beliefs. Giant Eagle and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union compel employees, like Leonatti, to either join or fund the union to keep their jobs. The problem for Leonatti is that he cannot do so without compromising his religious beliefs.

When Leonatti was hired, he never expected that union bosses would force him to choose between his job and his religious convictions. But the union officials did just that.

With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, Leonatti hit UFCW union officials and Giant Eagle in January with federal discrimination charges. Although Giant Eagle rehired Leonatti to limit liability, neither Giant Eagle nor the union agreed to accommodate his religious beliefs. So Leonatti faces discharge, again, unless he funds the union.

Moreover, the union demands that Leonatti submit to an illegal “religion test.” Before the company and union will consider accommodation, they demand that Leonatti answer irrelevant and inappropriate questions to determine whether his religious beliefs are valid.

UFCW Bosses Tried to Get Teen Fired After He Voiced Religious Objections

Foundation attorneys filed charges for Leonatti against the union at both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) based on federal law. Foundation attorneys also filed charges against Leonatti’s employer, Giant Eagle.

Federal law requires unions and employers to accommodate employees who have religious objections to joining or paying dues to a union. And federal law also prohibits forced union membership regardless of a worker’s reason for not wanting to affiliate with a union.

Leonatti’s charges report that he attended employee training last year as a cashier trainee. There, a store manager told new hires that they “must sign papers to join the United Food And Commercial Workers.” According to the NLRB charges, “No other options were even hinted at.”

After reviewing the papers with his family, Leonatti’s charges explain, he mailed a letter to UFCW officials detailing his sincere religious objections to joining and supporting the union. He also presented the same letter in person at training.

Rather than accommodate his religious beliefs as required by law, a company official “dismissed [Leonatti] from training and sent [him] home.” The same official later called Leonatti and told him that union membership is compulsory at Giant Eagle, and admitted the grocery store had terminated him over his refusal to join.

UFCW officials responded to Leonatti’s letter by mail on November 10, 2022, rejecting the written explanation of his religious objection and demanding he “complete its religious examination” before they even considered granting him an accommodation. Even if he passed this “test,” the charges say, union officials threatened that he would still have to pay an amount equal to full UFCW union dues to a charity approved by union bosses. Giant Eagle has not offered a religious accommodation to Leonatti, and the union has not retracted its threats or agreed to accommodate him.

Teen’s Firing Shows Need for Pennsylvania Right to Work Protections

Leonatti’s EEOC charges seek to compel the UFCW union and Giant Eagle to provide him a legally required religious accommodation. In addition, the NLRB charges state that relief must include unitwide notice and corporate training regarding workers’ right to refrain from union membership, among other remedies.

“Union bosses’ attempt to coerce a high school student to violate his religious beliefs is unconscionable and illegal,” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens. “We’re proud to support Mr. Leonatti as he defends his rights and beliefs. This should serve as a stark reminder that all Americans deserve Right to Work protections.”

“If Pennsylvania were a Right to Work state, Leonatti wouldn’t be forced to present his religious objections to expectedly hostile union chiefs,” Semmens added. “In a Right to Work state, he and other dissenting employees would have a statutorily protected right to cut off dues payments for any reason. All employees deserve the right to choose whether to fund a union.”

1 Jul 2023

Disney Worker Hits UNITE HERE Union with Federal Charge for Illegal Dues Seizures

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, May/June 2023 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Union officials ignoring worker’s right under Florida Right to Work law to stop dues payments

Not so magical: Lurking behind Disney World’s cheery exterior are UNITE HERE union officials who apparently don’t respect employees who exercise their right to free themselves from unwanted union membership and dues deductions.

Not so magical: Lurking behind Disney World’s cheery exterior are UNITE HERE union officials who apparently don’t respect employees who exercise their right to free themselves from unwanted union membership and dues deductions.

ORLANDO, FL – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation, a Disney Parks and Resorts employee in Orlando, Florida, has filed federal charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the UNITE HERE Local 362 union, stating that union officials ignored his resignation and dues checkoff revocation letter.

Since 1943, Florida’s Right to Work protections have made union membership and financial support strictly voluntary. However, when Jose Class filed his unfair labor practice charge, UNITE HERE union officials had not acknowledged his unequivocal exercise of his rights to abstain from both.

According to the charge filed in December 2022, Class resigned his union membership and revoked the union’s authorization to deduct dues from his paycheck. That December letter also requested, if union officials did not immediately accept his dues checkoff revocation, that the union, within 14 days of receipt, provide him with a copy of any checkoff he may have signed.

As of the filing of the charge, union officials had not stopped collecting dues from his wages, nor had they provided him with the requested copy of a signed checkoff authorization, which might specify when revocation is allowed.

Long History of Union Bosses Violating Disney World Workers’ Rights

UNITE HERE is not the only union that has violated Disney World workers’ right to stop all dues payments as guaranteed by Florida’s longstanding Right to Work law. In a series of cases brought against Florida-based Teamsters Local 385, Foundation attorneys ultimately won an NLRB decision that Teamsters officials violated workers’ rights by “repeatedly and deliberately” failing to honor the workers’ requests that deduction of union dues from their wages stop.

“In what is an unfortunately familiar story, union officials ignored Mr. Class’ resignation letter and his dues deduction revocation,” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse.

“No American worker should ever be forced to subsidize union activities, which is why a longstanding priority of the National Right to Work Foundation is assisting workers in exercising their right to cut off financial support for union officials they oppose.

16 Jun 2023

Foundation Blasts Biden NLRB’s Proposed Rule to Trap Workers in Unions

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, May/June 2023 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Former union lawyers target Foundation-backed reforms easing removal of unpopular unions

Workers Foundation Graphic

In its comments to the NLRB, the Foundation emphasized its leading role in defending workers’ right to vote out unwanted unions. Above are just a few workers whom Foundation attorneys have aided recently in decertification efforts.

WASHINGTON, DC – Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that over 90 percent of American workers have chosen not to affiliate with a union, and recent polling by Gallup shows non-union workers are overwhelmingly “not interested at all” in unionization. This isn’t a surprise considering modern day union officials’ overwhelming focus on politics, the way that monopoly “representation” often disadvantages the best employees, and union bosses’ “pay up or be fired” demands leveled at workers in non-Right to Work states, among other reasons.

The National Right to Work Foundation helped create an easier path for employees to vote out union officials they oppose by filing comments in support of the “Election Protection Rule,” which the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) adopted in 2020. The Foundation-backed Rule eliminated several non-statutory NLRB policies that union officials manipulate to block any attempt by employees to vote them out of a workplace.

Now, former union lawyers Biden appointed to the NLRB are repaying the President’s union boss political allies by moving to eliminate the Election Protection Rule, thus restoring to union officials several coercive methods used to trap workers in unions they oppose by making it more difficult for employees to successfully petition for a decertification election.

The Foundation slammed the plan in February comments filed with the NLRB, maintaining that the rule change will trample workers’ statutory right to vote out unions they oppose while entrenching unpopular union officials. Foundation attorneys followed up with reply comments in March, which refuted several arguments union officials and Biden’s NLRB General Counsel put forth in comments supporting the Election Protection Rule’s elimination.

Biden NLRB Will Again Let Union Officials Weaponize Unproven ‘Blocking Charges’

The Foundation’s comments explain that, if the Election Protection Rule is tossed, union officials will again be able to exploit often-unproven allegations of employer unlawful behavior to delay employee-requested union decertification votes. Prior to the 2020 reforms, union officials could often stall a decertification vote for months or even years by filing these so-called “blocking charges.”

The 2020 Election Protection Rule overturned the blocking charge policy, so workers are currently allowed in most cases to cast ballots in a decertification vote before the NLRB deals with any allegations surrounding the election. This procedure eliminates the incentive outright deception. Once recognized via this card check process, under the NLRB proposal there will be a year-long non-statutory bar, during which unions are immunized from decertification attempts.

The Election Protection Rule gives employees the opportunity to challenge the union’s claim of majority support during a 45-day window period beginning upon notice of recognition. If workers collect a sufficient showing of interest for an election and file it during the 45-day window, the NLRB will hold an election in that bargaining unit. This provides a check against the most egregious card check campaigns. Barring these worker-submitted union decertification petitions “only shields what may well be a minority union from challenge” and “destroys employees’ [statutory] rights,” the Foundation’s comments say.

Worker Majority Support Doesn’t Matter for Union Elites

The comments also oppose the Biden NLRB’s plan to let union officials subject construction workers to monopoly union so-called “representation” without providing evidence of any individual worker’s support for such control, let alone a majority.

“The move to eliminate the Election Protection Rule will re-impose arbitrary policies that trample workers’ rights and allow union bosses to maintain power despite the overwhelming opposition of rank-and-file workers,” observed National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens.

“The Biden NLRB, now stocked with former union lawyers, is putting on full display that its priorities lie with top D.C. union brass, not rank-and-file American workers.”