After Horsepower Electric employees voted to remove IUJAT union, Labor Board refused to count ballots for months based on empty union charges of misconduct
New York, NY (January 10, 2024) – Following a year-long legal battle, Brooklyn-based Horsepower Electric employee Shloime Spira and his colleagues are finally free of unwanted IUJAT (International Union of Journeymen and Allied Trades) representation. IUJAT union officials worked with the NLRB to manipulate the legal process with unproven claims against Horsepower Electric management to avoid the results of the workers’ union decertification vote. However, union officials have now chosen to renounce their so-called “representation” of the unit instead of facing a likely losing vote tally.
Spira received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation in defending his coworkers’ right under federal law to remove the union, both before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Federal Court for the Eastern District of New York. On December 31, 2023, IUJAT union officials’ “disclaimer of interest” became effective, and the union is no longer in the workplace. As a result, a federal case to demand the NLRB stop delaying the decertification effort has been voluntarily dismissed as moot.
“While my colleagues and I are pleased with this result, it’s simply ridiculous that the NLRB sat on our ballots for so long over union charges that were apparently meritless,” Spira commented. “The NLRB is supposed to protect employees’ right to choose whether or not they want a union, not delay that process indefinitely to maintain union officials’ power.”
NLRB Bureaucrats Sat On Case to Delay Counting Worker Votes, Necessitating Lawsuit
Spira first submitted a petition to the NLRB seeking an employee vote to remove the union in December 2022. Under NLRB rules, a petition requesting a union decertification vote must contain the signatures of at least 30 percent of the employees in a work unit to trigger a vote, a threshold which Spira’s petition met. The election took place in March 2023, but the NLRB ruled that the ballots could not be tallied because it had issued a complaint against Horsepower Electric based on allegations of employer misconduct (or “blocking charges”) filed by IUJAT union officials.
Union “blocking charges” contain claims of employer misconduct that are usually unverified and often have no connection to employees’ desire to vote out the union. NLRB officials inexplicably refused to hold a hearing or otherwise advance the “blocking charge” case for months, effectively using it as a pretense for delaying the vote count.
This delay meant Spira and his colleagues were trapped under the power of IUJAT union bosses without knowing the results of their vote. Because New York lacks Right to Work protections that make union affiliation and financial support strictly voluntary, IUJAT union bosses continued to collect forced dues from the workers, paid under threat of termination, while the vote count was indefinitely delayed.
No Witnesses Could Back Up Union’s Allegations Meant to Stymie Election
Pressure increased on the NLRB after the agency faced a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York alleging due process violations. To defend his and his coworkers’ right to have their votes counted, Spira joined Horsepower Electric’s suit in the District Court and also intervened in the NLRB case to challenge the “blocking charges.”
Faced with this threat of federal litigation, including a “show cause” order from the judge in the federal case against the NLRB, Board officials finally moved forward on the NLRB “blocking charge” case and scheduled a hearing to take place on December 5, 2023. This was nearly a year after Spira had requested the vote to remove the union.
Spira’s legal team traveled to New York to defend his rights against the union’s allegations in the NLRB case. Minutes before the hearing was scheduled to begin before an NLRB Administrative Law Judge, NLRB lawyers conceded they could produce no witnesses to testify in favor of the union’s charges against Horsepower Electric. Soon after, the NLRB formally dropped its complaint against Horsepower Electric, thus clearing the way for the ballots to be counted.
Finally, on December 12, 2023, IUJAT union officials issued a disclaimer of interest effectively announcing they were departing the workplace. This was presumably done to avoid a vote count the union figured it would lose. The NLRB case ended on January 2, 2024, and the District Court declared the federal case dismissed on January 5, 2024.
“That union officials were so easily able to manipulate NLRB processes to block Mr. Spira and his colleagues from exercising their basic right to choose whether they want union representation shows that the agency is desperately in need of reform,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “It is outrageous that it took a federal court case to force the NLRB to admit that it had no evidence to back up union officials’ allegations that were being used to trap workers in a union they opposed.”
“Worker free choice is supposed to be the center of the National Labor Relations Act, but as this case shows, too often the Board has contorted the law into a shield to insulate union bosses from workers’ choices,” added Mix. “The Biden Labor Board is taking this bias to more and more extreme levels every day, granting union officials sweeping new powers to coerce workers into union ranks, while systematically undermining the rights of workers opposed to union affiliation.”
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.