The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, July/August 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.
Current labor law is ‘antithetical to American values of free speech and free association’
Veteran Foundation staff attorney Glenn Taubman testified before Congress that current labor law allows union bosses to violate the rights of workers and urged Congress to make union dues payments and association voluntary.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney Glenn Taubman recently testified at a U.S. House of Representatives committee hearing, urging reform of current labor law that hinders American workers from exercising their rights under the U.S. Constitution and National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
Taubman has represented hundreds of workers in cases before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and in federal court as a veteran Foundation staff attorney.
Given his expertise on labor law, Taubman was asked to be the sole pro-Right to Work witness, testifying before the House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions at its hearing on “The Need for Labor Law Reform.”
Taubman told the House Committee on March 26 that union bosses use current labor law to force millions of private sector workers to accept union monopoly representation just to get or keep a job.
“No worker in America should be threatened with discharge from his or her workplace for refusing to pay dues and fees to a private organization he or she may despise,” Taubman testified. “Yet this is the reality for millions of private sector workers today under the compulsory dues and monopoly bargaining regimes of the NLRA.”
Taubman exposed several specific ways that current labor law violates workers’ rights. He explained that “current law makes it easier for employees to form and join a union than it is for those same employees to decertify the union,” adding that a web of bureaucratic red tape blocks countless employees from removing unions opposed by most workers.
Taubman argued forced dues and monopoly bargaining, also known as “exclusive representation,” violate workers’ rights to free speech and free association by forcing them to be represented by and pay fees to a private organization.
Even in states with Right to Work legislation, which protects employees’ right to choose whether or not to subsidize a union, union officials impose obstacles to prevent employees from changing their minds and cutting off union dues.
Taubman urged reform of the standards for financial transparency to expose how union dues are spent, citing recent examples of corruption and abuse of union funds. He also suggested passing several pieces of legislation to safeguard workers from compulsory unionism’s abuses, including the National Right to Work Act, which would give every individual worker covered by the NLRA and Railway Labor Act the freedom to decide whether or not to fund union officials’ activities.
Taubman cited the case of nurse Jeanette Geary as an example. Taubman helped Geary win her landmark case at the NLRB earlier this year while providing her with free legal aid. The NLRB decided favorably for Geary nine years after she first filed her case, ruling that union officials can never charge non-members for lobbying expenses.
The Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Beck decision provides some protection for workers like Geary against being charged for political and ideological union expenditures. Taubman pointed out, however, that union officials still continue spending forced dues for political activity.
“Changes to current labor law are long overdue, but the House Committee majority’s push to make it easier for workers to be forced into union ranks would move the law in the wrong direction,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Reforms to federal labor laws are certainly long overdue, but what is needed is a reorientation towards voluntary unionism.”