Union officials pushed unpopular strikes, now disclaim interest instead of remaining in work units where majority of workers requested ouster elections

Washington, DC (March 14, 2023) – Performers at dinner theater concept Medieval Times’ locations in Buena Park, CA, and Lyndhurst, NJ, have claimed victory as American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA) union officials submitted paperwork declaring they will abandon both workplaces. The AGVA union’s “disclaimers of interest” come after majorities of actors from both locations backed petitions asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold elections on whether to remove the AGVA union. Artemisia Morley and Michelle Dean submitted the union “decertification petitions” on behalf of performers at the New Jersey and California locations, respectively.

Both Morley and Dean received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation in navigating the NLRB’s union decertification process. The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal labor law, which includes administering elections to install (or “certify”) and remove (or “decertify”) unions. Both Morley’s and Dean’s petitions contained signatures from a majority of employees at their respective locations.

AGVA union officials attempted to block the New Jersey decertification vote by filing “blocking charges,” which are often-unrelated allegations against management meant to derail a vote. However, AGVA union officials in both New Jersey and California eventually chose to withdraw from the workplaces as opposed to fighting Foundation attorneys at the NLRB. In New Jersey, AGVA union officials departed before the decertification vote could take place, likely to avoid an embarrassing outcome.

Because California and New Jersey lack Right to Work protections for their private sector workers, AGVA union bosses had the power to enter into contracts with Medieval Times management that would have required employees to pay union dues or fees just to keep their jobs. In contrast, in Right to Work states, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary.

However, in both non-Right to Work states and Right to Work states, union bosses have power over the working conditions of every employee in a unionized workplace, including those who don’t support the union. A successful decertification effort strips union officials of that monopoly bargaining power.

AGVA Union Officials Tried to Use Strikes to Gain Power, but Only Angered Workers

AGVA union officials advocated for, or ordered, unpopular strikes at both the California and New Jersey Medieval Times locations around when each decertification petition was submitted. Filings in Morley’s NLRB case indicated that AGVA union officials were “secretive, self-interested, and divisive,” and continuously advocated a strike despite disapproval from workers at the Lyndhurst, NJ, castle.

Similarly, AGVA union officials called off a roughly nine-month-long strike at the Buena Park, CA, Medieval Times just before Dean filed her decertification petition.

The tide substantially turned against AGVA union officials in New Jersey after Morley’s Foundation attorneys successfully challenged a decision from an NLRB Regional Director that halted the Lyndhurst decertification vote based on union officials’ “blocking charges.” The NLRB in Washington, DC, ordered that a hearing be held to determine whether union bosses’ “blocking charges” had anything to do with employee discontent with the union, but AGVA disclaimed interest before the hearing could occur.

Employees Across U.S. Seeking Freedom from Union Control

Across the country, workers are increasingly attempting to exercise their right to vote out union officials they disapprove of. According to NLRB data, since 2020 decertification petition filings have gone up by over 40%. Despite this trend, the Biden NLRB is attempting to make it substantially more difficult for workers to decertify unions, and could soon issue a final rule invalidating the Election Protection Rule, a policy which contains multiple important safeguards regarding employees’ right to decertify unions they oppose.

“AGVA union officials treated each Medieval Times castle as their own personal fiefdom, but their actions led to an uprising of the rank-and-file they purported to ‘represent,’” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While the wishes of the Medieval Times performers have been obtained, it should be remembered that workers all over the country are subjected to union control they oppose.”

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 Mar 14, 2024 in News Releases