SPFPA union officials trapped workers in union ranks, but workers still have chance to stop mandatory dues payments

Delaware (June 26, 2024) – Security guards posted at federal buildings across the state of Delaware will soon cast ballots in a “deauthorization election” that may strip officials of the Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) union of their power to force guards to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Newark, DE-based security guard Steven Bowden requested the vote by submitting a deauthorization petition to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which a majority of his fellow guards employed by GXC Inc. backed. Bowden is receiving free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.

The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law in the private sector. Following an election agreement, the NLRB has announced that the guards can begin casting ballots in the deauthorization election on July 2.

Because Delaware is one of the minority of states still lacking Right to Work protections, union bosses have the legal privilege to force private sector workers like the GXC Inc. security guards to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. For that reason, workers opposed to funding union activities can only end the union’s forced-dues power by voting against it in a deauthorization election, or by requesting a “decertification vote” that terminates a union’s bargaining power in a workplace completely.

Gathering employee signatures to petition for a deauthorization or decertification vote can be difficult and time-consuming, especially in a situation like Bowden’s where the members of his work unit come from across the state. In contrast, in Right to Work states, deauthorization votes are unnecessary because union membership and financial support are the voluntary choice of each individual worker.

Union Officials Manipulated Carve-Outs in Federal Labor Law to Stay in Power

SPFPA union officials drew the ire of Bowden and his colleagues by signing a contract with GXC Inc. management without the workers’ knowledge or consent. While voting the union out of the workplace would be their next logical step, the NLRB’s so-called “contract bar” allows union officials to immunize themselves from worker-backed decertification attempts for up to three years after a union contract has been finalized. The “contract bar” appears nowhere in the text of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the federal law the NLRB is charged with enforcing, but is the product of union boss-friendly decisions made by partisan NLRB members over the years.

“SPFPA union officials sprung this contract on me and my colleagues, which is hardly what we would consider ‘representing’ us fairly,” commented Bowden. “It’s disappointing that NLRB rules prevent us from kicking SPFPA bosses out, but stopping them from forcing us to fund union activities is definitely a step in the right direction, and we’re confident we’ll win this vote.”

Union officials regularly exploit the “contract bar” to remain in power, even when workers have clearly expressed their opposition to the union’s performance. In 2022, Foundation attorneys successfully defended Kerry Hunsberger and her coworkers at Latrobe (PA) Specialty Metals from a scheme by United Steelworkers (USW) to use a contract that workers had overwhelmingly voted against as a reason to block a decertification vote. In 2020 and 2021, Foundation attorneys also aided an 800-employee unit of Mountaire Farms poultry workers in Delaware in a similar situation.

This also isn’t the first time that Foundation attorneys have provided free legal aid to security employees seeking freedom from SPFPA union dues schemes. In 2020, Las Vegas-based security guard Justin Stephens and his coworkers scored a settlement returning thousands of dollars in illegally-seized union dues to North American Security staff after SPFPA officials failed to acknowledge many employees’ attempts to revoke their union memberships and cut off dues deductions.

“SPFPA union bosses betrayed the trust of Delaware GXC security guards by finalizing a new contract behind their backs, and these guards certainly deserve a chance to exercise their right to vote the union out,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Despite that, the ‘contract bar’ lets union officials unilaterally block workers from voting a union out of power, demonstrating how stacked federal labor law is against basic worker freedom.

“Federal labor law’s bias toward keeping union bosses in power even over workers’ objections again shows why Right to Work laws are needed nationwide,” Mix added. “If union officials can legally trap workers under a union’s so-called ‘representation,’ the least states can do is provide workers a way to protect their hard-earned cash from going toward union activities that go against their interests.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in about 200 cases nationwide per year.

Posted on Jun 26, 2024 in News Releases