Juan Vielma, 58, was a security guard of 17 years in El Paso, Texas. That is, until he dared to oppose a union. When union officials persuaded his employer to suspend him without pay for exercising his legal rights, he struggled to make ends meet.
His employer, AKAL Security, is a joint-venture of Minnesota-based Deco Security Services and New Mexico-based AKAL Security.
At the order of officials from the International Union of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA), AKAL suspended Juan without pay for over a year because he had exercised his right under Texas’ Right to Work law to refuse to pay union dues. Texas is one of 24 Right to Work states that prohibit compulsory dues.
Juan sought free legal assistance from attorneys at the National Right to Work Foundation. In federal charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Foundation attorneys sought Juan’s reinstatement and back pay, in addition to a notice to all AKAL Security employees about their rights to refrain from forced union membership and dues payment. Eventually, the NLRB issued a formal complaint and conducted a hearing to prosecute the union in late March 2007.
After the hearing, a federal Administrative Law Judge ruled that Juan be reinstated and be fully reimbursed his back wages and benefits lost. However, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office has inexplicably failed to take formal legal action to prosecute the SPFPA union for violating the Right to Work law. Foundation attorneys have also uncovered an apparent statewide union fraud to dupe potentially thousands of Texans into paying compulsory dues.
Juan in His Own Words
“I can’t collect unemployment because I’m suspended until I pay the union fees. I’ve got all my bills. I’m two payments behind on my house (mortgage).” –Juan Vielma, speaking to a reporter for the El Paso Times
“For me, I don’t think we need a union.” –Juan Vielma, commenting on union membership for the El Paso Times
“I work to get paid; I don’t pay to work.” –Juan Vielma, asserting his right under Texas’ highly-popular Right to Work law
- July 24, 2007: Employee Rights Group Reacts to Attorney General Abbott’s
Long-Sought Legal Action to Enforce Texas’ Right to Work Law
- June 25, 2007: Employee Rights Group Wins Security Guard’s Reinstatement After Year-Long Suspension for Refusal to Pay Union Dues
- June 21, 2007: Employee Rights Advocate Urges Attorney General to Prosecute Pattern of Apparent Union Fraud and Violations of Texas Right to Work Law
- February 5, 2007: Federal Labor Board to Prosecute Union for Retaliation Against Security Guard for Asserting Legal Rights
Foundation Action Features
- September/October 2007: Big Labor Bosses Scheme to Trump Right to Work Laws
- March/April 2007: Foundation Defends Security Guard from Union Attack on Job
- August 9, 2007: “Mark Mix: Unions need to back off,” The Dallas Morning News
- August 8, 2007: “Abbott enters right-to-work fights with double-barreled gun blazing,” San Antonio Express-News
- August 1, 2007: “EP security guard receives $25,000 in back wages,” El Paso Times
- July 27, 2007: “Abbott files suits to enforce Texas’ right to work law,” The Lone Star Report
- July 25, 2007: “State sues security companies, union,” El Paso Times
- July 25, 2007: “Texas AG files lawsuit against accused employer, Man
says he was forced to pay dues,” Corpus Christi Caller Times
- July 23, 2007: “El Paso guard returns to work after spurning union,” El
- July 17, 2007: “Non-Association Right Under Fire By Unions,” The Tyler Morning Telegraph
- July 11, 2007: “Attorney general accused of inaction as labor bosses ‘trample’ on Texans,” San Antonio Express-News
- July 4, 2007: ?Guard offered job back in union case,” El Paso Times
- June 29, 2007: ?Right to Work group scores one against unions,” The Lone Star Report
- June 27, 2007: General Abbott” wasn’t “AWOL,” his communications director says,” San Antonio Express-News
- June 23, 2007: Big Labor Punishes Little Texan while indifferent Abbott “AWOL,?” San Antonio Express-News
- June 20, 2007: Judge sides with guard in right-to-work case,” El Paso Times
- February 14, 2007: “Man fights suspension for shunning union,” El Paso Times