Sacramento public employees were target of IUOE union’s request for their emails related to rights to oppose unionization
Sacramento, California (October 18, 2018) – Three employees of the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District filed unfair labor charges with the California Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) against Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 3 union after a union official used the state’s public records request system to attempt to harass and intimidate the workers for being critical of the union and seeking to exercise their rights.
Ryan Wagner, Brett Day, and Mark Pipkin, with free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, filed the unfair practice charges after they received notification by their employer that a union official had requested their work email records and other documents under the California Public Records Act.
The Operating Engineers official requested copies of all three employees’ emails with keywords such as “decertification,” “PERB,” “union,” “decertify,” “how to get rid of union,” “Public Employee Relations Board,” and “Meyers Milias Brown Act.” The terms are related to the employees’ legal rights under California law, specifically the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA) which covers county and municipal workers, to remove a union that has lost the support of a majority of workers.
Under the MMBA, workers have a right to abstain from formal union membership and participation in union activities. Unions are prohibited from interfering with, intimidating, restraining, coercing or discriminating against public employees because of the exercise of those rights.
The charges filed with PERB state that the union official’s requests violate the workers’ rights under California’s labor law. The three workers each request that, as a remedy for the illegal intimidation, the union be required to post notices to all employees of their right to refrain from union activities under California law, and that the union’s practices violated Wagner, Day, and Pipkin’s legal rights.
Before the June Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, public employees in California could be required to pay union dues or fees, even if they were not union members. After Janus recognized workers’ First Amendment right not to fund union speech, the three workers were free from union forced dues, but still stuck under the union’s monopoly contract and so-called “representation.” A decertification election, about which the union official’s records request sought information, would force the union to prove that it actually has the support of at least a majority of the workers it claims to represent.
“This case shows that union officials will go to any lengths to try to trap workers under a union monopoly they oppose,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Apparently, IUOE union bosses are so fearful of letting workers vote on unionization, that they are willing to harass and attempt to intimidate workers whom they claim to ‘represent.’”
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.