WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 12, 2002) – Ceding to the request of U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, the U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it will not review a key ruling issued by the Clinton National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that dramatically diminished the rights of employees to refrain from supporting objectionable union activities with their forced union dues.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit first unanimously overturned the NLRB ruling in Mulder v. National Labor Relations Board, but then it later unanimously upheld it during a circuit-wide rehearing. By refusing to grant a writ of certiorari, the Supreme Court allows unions to force millions of unionized workers in the private sector to pay for union organizing drives or lose their jobs. Organizing expenses often exceed 20-30% of a union’s budget.
“It’s disturbing the Bush Administration took this position in opposition to enforcement of the Beck decision,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, referring to the Supreme Court’s Communications Workers v. Beck (1988) decision. That decision allows employees to reclaim their forced union dues spent for activities unrelated to collective bargaining, such as politics. “No one should be forced to fund the recruitment of supporters to a private ideological cause to get or keep a job.”
The decision to oppose Supreme Court review fit the strategy of some in the White House political office to cozy up to union officials by making fundamental policy concessions that have increased union coercive power. As the union hierarchy has again gone all out to defeat Republicans at the polls this year, this concession strategy is increasingly recognized as a political failure.
Many labor law experts agree that the Ninth Circuit’s decision directly violates previous rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court. In the Foundation-won precedent Ellis v. Railway Clerks, the High Court determined that union organizing expenses were only tenuously related to collective bargaining, and thus employees who are not members of a union could not be legally forced to financially support this activity.
In affirming the NLRB and establishing a nationwide precedent in conflict with previous Supreme Court rulings, the Ninth Circuit decided against grocery clerk Phillip Mulder and five other employees and in favor of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union.
Foundation attorneys plan to bring forward similar cases in other circuits with the hope of persuading the Supreme Court ultimately to take up the issue of union organizing.
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 more than 250 cases nationwide per year.