In April the West Virginia Supreme Court upheld West Virginia’s Right to Work law, ending a multi-year union boss legal challenge.
National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse wrote an article for The Federalist Society analyzing the decision in the case: Morrisey v. West Virginia AFL-CIO. LaJeunesse just published piece highlights how the justices relied heavily on the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the law protecting workers against being forced to subsidize union activities:
“Four of the five Justices concluded in Morrisey that the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME, 138 S. Ct. 2448 (2018), required that result. Janus held that forcing nonmembers to pay union fees as a condition of public employment violates the First Amendment. As Justice Workman put it, concurring in the judgment of the Court in Morrisey, ‘there is no principled basis on which to conclude that under the legal analysis upon which Janus is based, a prohibition on the collection of agency fees is constitutional for public employees’ unions but unconstitutional for private employees’ unions.'”
Foundation staff attorneys filed 10 legal briefs in Morrisey in defense of West Virginia’s Right to Work law. Foundation President Mark Mix hailed the decision as a “a great victory for Mountain State employees.”
Since 2012, Foundation staff attorneys have defended and enforced five newly passed Right to Work in states including West Virginia.
Foundation Staff Attorneys Appeal NLRB Settlement that Fails to Compensate Victims of Union Discrimination Scheme
Tygart Center settlement failed to provide a complete remedy to employees for its discriminatory practice of paying more per hour to union stewards
Fairmont, WV (May 26, 2020) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have appealed a forced settlement agreement between the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Tygart Center imposed on healthcare worker Donna Harper. Harper objects to the imposed settlement because it fails to provide a complete remedy for her and other workers who were discriminated against under the union bargaining agreement between Tygart Center and Teamsters Local 175.
In the settlement, Tygart Center agrees to stop enforcing an unlawful contract provision under which Teamsters union stewards have been paid more per hour than other employees. However, as Foundation attorneys argue in their appeal to NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, the settlement does not require Tygart Center to compensate the employees who were denied the additional pay per hour as a result of the discrimination.
“The Employer and Union unlawfully discriminated in favor of Union stewards, granting them an increased wage in the [union contract] while denying that wage to all others,” one portion of the appeal reads. “This action denied a benefit to every employee who was not a Union steward.”
Foundation staff attorneys also filed an amicus brief for Harper with the West Virginia Supreme Court to defend the state’s Right to Work law against a protracted lawsuit brought by several unions attempting to overturn the law and restore union officials’ power to have workers fired for refusing to pay union dues or fees.
The West Virginia Supreme Court on April 21 of this year unanimously upheld the constitutionality of West Virginia’s Right to Work law, which has been in effect during that litigation due to earlier orders issued by that court.
“Union bosses in West Virginia want nothing more than to coerce workers into paying dues either by misleading workers by wrongly telling them they must pay union dues or by trying unsuccessfully to overturn the state’s Right to Work law in court,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Foundation staff attorneys are ensuring that employers and union bosses in the Mountain State do not get away with illegal deals to fill union coffers or unlawfully discriminate against employees who choose to exercise their rights to not engage in union activity.”
Illinois Home Healthcare Provider Hits SEIU Union with Lawsuit for Seizing Dues in Violation of First Amendment Rights
Union requires home healthcare providers to submit photo identification just to exercise constitutional right to stop union dues deductions
Chicago, IL (May 22, 2020) – An Illinois home healthcare provider has filed a federal class-action civil rights lawsuit against the SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana union (SEIU-HCII), for seizing dues from her compensation without her affirmative consent, and for enforcing arbitrary restrictions on her right to cut off dues deductions. The lawsuit, filed with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, charges the union with breaching home healthcare providers’ First Amendment rights under the Foundation-won Harris v. Quinn and Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decisions.
In Harris, won by Foundation staff attorneys in 2014, the High Court recognized that the First Amendment is violated by schemes to forcibly extract dues from home healthcare providers who assist individuals whose care is subsidized by the government. In the 2018 Janus decision, the Supreme Court struck down mandatory union fees for public sector workers as an infringement of their First Amendment rights, and ruled that the government can only deduct union dues or fees with an individual’s affirmative and knowing consent.
The plaintiff, Hydie Nance, provides home-based healthcare under the auspices of Illinois’ Home Services Plan. This program provides Medicaid funds to people with disabilities so they can hire and pay “personal assistants” to help them with their day-to-day activities. Nance’s complaint points out that the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) deducts union dues from these subsidies at the behest of SEIU-HCII union officials, and does so without notifying personal assistants “that they have a First Amendment right not to financially support SEIU-HCII.”
According to the complaint, Nance sent letters to both DHS and SEIU-HCII officials in November 2019 exercising her First Amendment right to end her union membership and cut off dues deductions. Both union and state officials ignored Nance’s attempt to exercise her rights and continued to deduct full union dues from her subsidies. The lawsuit also alleges that the dues deduction policy the state and SEIU-HCII enforce requires the DHS to “not respond to notices it receives from personal assistants to stop dues deductions unless and until SEIU-HCII instructs DHS to cease the deductions.”
Nance renewed her objection to union membership and dues deductions in March, the lawsuit says. While DHS again did not respond to the letter, SEIU-HCII officials sent an email acknowledging receipt of her request but claiming they “unfortunately cannot process it without your valid photo id,” instructing her to submit a picture of a photo ID in response to the message. SEIU-HCII bosses and DHS officials “do not notify personal assistants that they must submit a photo identification” unless union bosses reject a request to cut off dues, the lawsuit notes.
Nance’s complaint contends that this process “impedes and burdens personal assistants’ First Amendment right to stop subsidizing SEIU-HCII and its speech” and additionally “impinges on personal assistants’ right to privacy and exposes them to the threat of identity theft.” The lawsuit asks that the District Court declare unconstitutional SEIU-HCII’s continuing dues seizures after receiving written objections and that the court forbid enforcement of the policy. The complaint also requests that the union return to home healthcare providers all money it has seized illegally under the policy.
One of the attorneys representing Nance is William Messenger, a veteran National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney who argued and won the Janus and Harris cases at the Supreme Court. The lead plaintiff in the latter case, Pamela Harris, is also an Illinois home healthcare provider who filed suit with free legal aid from the Foundation after the SEIU sought to force her to pay union fees just for receiving state subsidies to care for her son in her own home.
“Individuals cannot be forced to produce a photo ID just to exercise their legal rights, nor does the state of Illinois need the permission of SEIU bosses before respecting the First Amendment rights of healthcare workers,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Years after the Supreme Court in Harris and later in Janus explicitly recognized the First Amendment right that home healthcare providers have to refuse to subsidize a union, SEIU union bosses and their allies in Illinois still are more interested in filling union coffers with forced dues than respecting the constitutional rights of those they claim to represent.”
Lawsuit Secures Additional $31,000 for Michigan Emergency and Medical Workers Subjected to UAW Forced Union Dues Scheme
Previous federal labor board case won $26,000 in refunds of forced dues seized from workers despite Michigan Right to Work law making union membership and payments voluntary
Flint, MI (May 21, 2020) – A Genesee County judge approved a settlement giving more financial compensation to 263 EMTs, paramedics, wheelchair drivers and dispatchers to conclude a class action lawsuit filed by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys for two workers against United Auto Workers Local 708 (UAW) and their employer.
The settlement grants named plaintiffs Skyler Korinek and Donald McCarty and 261 other employees of STAT Emergency Medical Services a total of $31,000 in damages in a lawsuit challenging the union and company’s violation of Michigan’s Right to Work law. Under the settlement, the UAW will pay $12,500 and STAT will pay the balance. Those damages are in addition to $26,000 UAW officials were required to refund to conclude another case filed by Korinek and McCarty with Foundation legal aid.
In the state class-action lawsuit, Foundation staff attorneys argued UAW and STAT violated Michigan’s Right to Work law by requiring employees to become UAW members and financially support the UAW as a condition of employment.
The $31,000 settlement is in addition to an earlier National Labor Relations Board settlement granting Korinek, McCarty and 168 other emergency workers $26,000 in refunds from the UAW. That settlement occurred in April last year after Foundation staff attorneys filed unfair labor practice charges for the two against the UAW and STAT for deducting union dues from the workers’ paychecks without authorization.
STAT and UAW officials entered into a monopoly bargaining agreement on September 3, 2015, that contained a so-called “union security” agreement, which required STAT employees to join and fund the UAW or lose their jobs. At that time Michigan’s Right to Work law, which protects workers from having to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment, had already been in effect for more than two years.
As part of the settlement approved Monday, UAW officials and STAT agreed not to include a so-called “union security” agreement that requires workers to join or financially support the UAW in any union contract for as long as Michigan’s Right to Work law is in effect.
“Enforcing Right to Work laws in states like Michigan is a crucial part of the Foundation’s legal aid program, one that is necessary because union bosses repeatedly demonstrate that they will violate workers’ rights to force them to pay union dues,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “In Michigan, union bosses have been repeatedly caught red-handed violating workers’ protections against requirements that they subsidize union activities.”
Since Michigan passed its Right to Work law, which became effective in March 2013, Foundation staff attorneys have brought more than 120 cases for Michigan workers subjected to coercive union boss tactics.