Labor Board wrongly claimed illegal union membership threats against San Francisco Allied Universal employee were mere clerical errors
San Francisco, CA (March 17, 2023) – Allied Universal employee Thomas Ross filed an appeal after National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) officials tried to end his discrimination cases against his employer and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) on the grounds that they are moot. Ross is receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation in his several cases against the union and employer.
On November 10, 2022, Thomas Ross hit union officials affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and his employer Allied Universal, with two sets of federal charges for forcing him to join and financially support the union after he told both parties his religious beliefs forbid union support. One set of charges was filed with the NLRB for violating his rights under federal labor law, and the other was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), where the charges are still pending, for illegal religious discrimination under federal civil rights law.
California, where Ross is employed, lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector workers, allowing union officials the power to force workers to pay them fees or be fired. In Right to Work states, in contrast, no worker can be fired for refusal to financially support a union.
However, under federal law, employees with religious objections cannot be compelled to pay union fees, even in non-Right to Work States. Further, under the National Labor Relations Act, which the NLRB is charged with enforcing, formal union membership cannot be mandatory, nor can dues be deducted from a worker’s paycheck without explicit authorization.
Despite this, Allied Universal demanded Ross join the union and also illegally seized dues from his paycheck without Ross’ consent, which it then sent to SEIU officials. After Ross filed the charges, Allied Universal refunded Ross’s illegally seized dues and claimed that the deduction was simply an “administrative error”. This led the NRLB to dismiss the case on the basis of the supposed “error” being resolved.
Foundation Attorneys and Ross have ample evidence to demonstrate the dues seizure was not a mere clerical error. In the appeal filed with the NLRB on March 13, 2023, Foundation attorneys highlighted that “it was established company policy that all employees are required to sign the checkoff and membership forms to work at Allied’s ‘union-only’ locations.”
The appeal also showcases several threats made to Ross by Allied Universal, even after receiving written notice of his religious objection. The correspondence in the case “show[s] employer agents reiterating several times that Mr. Ross must sign the membership forms in order to work at a ‘union site,’ or he can find a new job.”
“The Foundation is proud to assist Mr. Ross in his brave fight against religious discrimination and union boss coercion in his workplace,” stated Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Apparently at the behest of the SEIU, Allied Universal repeatedly and blatantly violated Mr. Ross’ legal rights. The NLRB should not sweep those under the rug as supposed ‘clerical errors’ because the clear violations of longstanding law financially benefitted union officials.”
“Additionally, it’s important to note that regardless of whether an individual employee’s objection to union affiliation and dues payment is religious in nature or not, ultimately no worker should be forced to pay dues to a union under threat of losing their livelihood,” Mix added.
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 around 250 cases nationwide per year.