9 Dec 2020

Federal Appeals Court to Hear United Airlines Worker’s Lawsuit Challenging Forced Union Dues “Opt-Out” Scheme

Posted in News Releases

Foundation attorneys argue IAM union opt-out requirement to escape payment for union officials’ political activities violates Supreme Court’s Janus precedent

New Orleans, LA (December 9, 2020) – Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will hear arguments in United Airlines fleet service employee Arthur Baisley’s class action lawsuit against the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) union. The case, which Baisley filed with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, challenges the requirement that employees opt out during a brief “window period” in many instances or else be required to pay for union officials’ political and ideological activities.

Baisley’s attorneys will argue the opt-out scheme violates workers’ rights under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), and the First Amendment under the standard laid out in the landmark 2018 Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME decision. They contend that, under Janus and the 2012 Knox v. SEIU Supreme Court case – both of which were argued at the High Court by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys – no union dues or fees can be charged beyond the maximum that can legally be required without a worker’s affirmative consent.

The employee, Arthur Baisley, is not a member of the IAM but is still forced to pay union fees despite being based in the Right to Work state of Texas. The Railway Labor Act pre-empts state Right to Work protections which make union membership and financial support strictly voluntary. However, under longstanding law, even without Right to Work protections nonmembers cannot be required to fund a union’s ideological activities such as lobbying and politics.

The lawsuit challenges the burdensome procedure IAM union officials created for workers seeking to exercise their right not to fund the “nonchargable” activities. The complaint lays out the convoluted union boss-created process that workers must jump through just to prevent dues from being taken in violation of their First Amendment rights.

Baisley’s experience with these requirements demonstrates how the opt-out procedure is used to violate workers’ rights by forcing them to pay for union politics without their consent. Even though he sent a letter to IAM agents in November 2018 objecting to funding all union political activities, union officials only accepted his objection for 2019, and told Baisley he had to renew his objection to full dues and fees the next year or else be charged for full union dues.

The complaint challenges this union-created policy on the grounds that it “require[s] employees to opt-out of paying union fees that they have no legal obligation to pay” and thus breaches workers’ First Amendment rights. The complaint also alleges that the IAM’s “opt-out requirement” violates the RLA, which governs labor in the air and rail industries and “protects the right of employees to ‘join, organize, or assist in organizing’ a union of their choice as well as the right to refrain from any of those activities.”

The class action lawsuit asks the court to strike down the op-out requirement not only as it is applied to Baisley, but also for his coworkers whose rights are similarly restricted by the IAM’s illegal policy. Union officials would then be required to get nonmember workers to give affirmative consent to paying for union boss activities beyond what nonmember workers can legally be required to subsidize under the RLA.

“For too long union bosses have enforced deliberately complicated opt-out requirements with the aim of trapping workers into paying for union boss politics despite the fact that, as nonmembers, they have already chosen not to affiliate with the union,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The Supreme Court ruled in the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME case that government unions must get consent before forcing public sector employees to fund a union because all speech directed at the government is inherently political.”

“This case seeks to apply the same legal standard to workers like Mr. Baisley who are subjected to mandatory union payments under the Railway Labor Act by requiring union officials to get workers to opt in to the portion of dues that the union already admits it spends on ideological and political activities,” added Mix.

7 Dec 2020

Judge Rules for ABC Cameraman in Case against NABET Union Officials Who Seized Illegal Dues from His Paycheck

Posted in News Releases

Union bosses ignored his attempts to exercise his rights, now must refund all illegally taken money

Portland, OR (December 7, 2020) – Portland-area ABC cameraman Jeremy Brown has just won a decision in his case charging National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA) Local 51 union officials with demanding and seizing illegal dues from him and for ignoring his multiple attempts to exercise his right to refrain from union membership and not pay for union political activities. He is represented at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.

A December 3 ruling by an NLRB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that NABET union bosses have, since April 2019, breached federal labor law by violating Brown’s rights under the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision. Beck stipulates that union bosses can only compel employees, like Brown, who have objected to formal union membership to pay for specific, limited costs directly related to the union’s bargaining functions. An employee cannot be required to pay for the union’s political, lobbying and other non-bargaining expenditures. Beck also requires union officials to provide such employees an independent audit of the union’s financial breakdown and the process by which they calculate the reduced fee amount, among other disclosures.

According to the ALJ’s decision, Brown resumed work with ABC in 2016 after periods of intermittent hire since 1999, at no point joining the union. A new president, Carrie Biggs-Adams, took over the NABET union in the workplace in late 2018 and sent Brown a series of letters in early 2019 which claimed that, as a condition of employment, he had to pay nearly $10,000 dollars in initiation fees and “back agency dues.”

Because Brown works primarily in states without Right to Work protections, which make union membership and financial support voluntary, he can be required to pay a fee to the union as a condition of employment.

Brown, who according to the ALJ’s decision was unaware until 2019 that he was under the NABET union’s bargaining power, emailed Biggs-Adams in April 2019 asking for “clarification” regarding the fee demands and also exercised his Beck rights by objecting “to the collection and expenditure by the union of a fee for any purpose other than” certain bargaining activities. The decision also recounts that Brown informed Biggs-Adams that he filled out an application for formal NABET membership (which included an authorization for full dues deductions from his paycheck), but did so under duress, believing that he would be fired if he did not agree to pay dues.

Several follow-ups by Brown were not acknowledged by Biggs-Adams. According to the ALJ’s ruling, she “believed Local 51 had no obligation to do so because Beck objections” are handled only by the union’s national headquarters under NABET rules. Biggs-Adams never told Brown that his Beck objection was misdirected nor provided any of the disclosures Beck requires under prior Board decisions, and the union never reduced his fee amount in accordance with Beck.

The ALJ’s decision holds that the NABET Local 51 union violated Brown’s rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) through its officials’ omissions and the failure to reduce his dues. The ALJ orders that NABET Local 51 provide Brown with “a good faith determination of the reduced dues and fees objectors must pay,” “reimburse Brown for all dues and fees collected” beyond what is required by Beck with interest, and post notices informing the employees in Brown’s workplace of the decision.

“NABET union bosses flat out ignored multiple attempts by Mr. Brown to exercise his Beck rights, all the while stuffing their coffers with well over the limit of cash that they could legally demand from him,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While this decision vindicated Mr. Brown’s legal rights, it also demonstrates why every American worker deserves the protection of a Right to Work law to shield them from union boss threats to pay up or be fired.”

7 Dec 2020

Chicago Mental Health Counselor Files Federal Class Action Suit Against SEIU for Dues Seizures in Violation of First Amendment

Posted in News Releases

Lawsuit seeks to end scheme that blocks University of Illinois workers from exercising constitutional right to stop union dues deductions

Chicago, IL (December 7, 2020) – With free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, Johnathan Shepard, a mental health counselor working for the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System (UI Health), has filed a federal class-action civil rights lawsuit against Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73 and the University’s Board of Trustees.

The suit challenges Local 73 union officials’ policy enforced by the University that blocks University employees from exercising their First Amendment right to stop payments to the union outside of a fifteen-day annual “escape period.” The lawsuit seeks refunds of all dues seized as a result of the unconstitutional policy.

The complaint states that SEIU officials and the University of Illinois are breaching the First Amendment protections recognized in the 2018 Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision. In Janus, then-Illinois state employee Mark Janus was represented before the Supreme Court by William Messenger, the veteran Foundation attorney who is also handling Shepard’s case.

In its ruling in Janus, the High Court struck down mandatory union fees as violating the First Amendment rights of government employees. The Court ruled that any union dues taken without a government worker’s affirmative consent violates the First Amendment, and that these rights cannot be restricted absent a clear and knowing waiver by employees of their First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit explains that Shepard sent a letter to SEIU officials exercising his right under Janus to resign union membership and cut off all dues payments during a strike ordered by SEIU union bosses. According to the complaint, SEIU officials confirmed receipt of the letter but said that they would continue to seize dues from Shepard’s paycheck unless he sends another revocation letter during an annual fifteen-day escape period that does not open until July 2021.

SEIU and the University of Illinois’ escape period policy effectively prohibits employees from exercising their First Amendment rights under Janus for 350 days of the year (351 during leap years). Shepard contends in his lawsuit that SEIU and the University of Illinois violate the First Amendment by seizing payments for union speech from employees who resign their union membership and object to dues deductions outside of this short escape period. The complaint asks the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to order the SEIU and the University to stop enforcing the unconstitutional escape period and to order SEIU to refund to employees the dues it has unlawfully seized from them over their objections.

“Once again, SEIU officials are violating the First Amendment Janus rights of workers they claim to represent just so they can keep dues money rolling into their union’s coffers,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The Foundation is proud to stand with Mr. Shepard, and will continue to defend all healthcare employees who simply want to serve their patients without being forced to subsidize union activities.”

1 Dec 2020

NLRB Moves to Prosecute Yotel Boston and UNITE HERE for Violating Workers’ Rights in Coercive ‘Card Check’ Unionization

Posted in News Releases

Labor Board complaint says hotel officials illegally assisted union boss organizing drive used to impose union monopoly ‘representation’ on housekeepers

Boston, MA (December 1, 2020) – Yesterday the Acting Boston Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against the Yotel Hotel and the UNITE HERE Local 26 union after the hotel illegally assisted union officials with foisting the union on workers. Housekeepers Cindy J. Alarcon Vasquez, Lady Laura Javier, Yesica Perez Barrios, and Danela Guzman filed unfair labor practice charges with the Board in December of 2019 with free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.

The charges, which resulted in today’s complaint, say the hotel illegally assisted the union’s coercive “card check” drive, during which employees were pressured by union operatives into signing union cards. These cards were later counted as “votes,” and were used to bypass a secret ballot election that would have determined whether the workers actually support union representation.

The NLRB has long held that an employer taints employees’ efforts to remove a union if it gives those employees support such as a list of bargaining unit employees or use of company resources. The worker’s attorneys here argue that Yotel Boston similarly tainted the union’s organizing campaign by providing assistance to UNITE HERE union organizers that amounted to more than permitted “ministerial aid.”

Such assistance, while it is presumed to taint the results of decertification votes, has often been overlooked by the Board when the assistance benefits union officials in their efforts to gain monopoly representation powers over rank-and-file workers.

By issuing the complaint, the NLRB is finally applying the standard equally no matter whether the assistance is used to impose or remove union monopoly representation. Further, the complaint finds that Yotel violated the law when they recognized UNITE HERE as the workers’ monopoly representative as a result of the illegal assistance.

The case is not the first in which the NLRB has addressed this double standard. In July NLRB Region 19 issued a similar complaint in another case involving a hotel worker whose employer illegally assisted UNITE HERE Local 8 union officials in its card check drive at Embassy Suites in Seattle. There the NLRB also agreed that the employer had provided more than “ministerial aid,” and therefore UNITE HERE officials “did not represent an uncoerced majority of the unit.”

“The NLRB is finally addressing the double standard that for too long has favored union bosses in their coercive card check unionization drives,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Union bosses pressure workers and get illegal assistance from employers to impose their so-called representation on workers, but they cry foul when that same assistance is given to workers attempting to remove unwanted forced representation.”

“With these complaints against UNITE-HERE union bosses the Board is correctly finding that what qualifies as more than ‘ministerial assistance and support,’ and thus violates the National Labor Relations Act, cannot depend on whether the employer is helping outside union organizers impose unionization on workers or is assisting workers in exercising their right to remove an unwanted union.”

30 Nov 2020
27 Nov 2020

Ohio Public Workers Axe Illegal Restrictions on Janus Rights for Almost 30,000

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, September/October 2020 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Foundation-backed lawsuit ends AFSCME bosses unlawful “escape period” scheme

Mark Mix Fox News Right to Work Janus

Two years after Foundation staff attorneys won Janus, public sector workers continue to cast off the shackles of forced union dues. In Allen, the plaintiffs successfully defended the Janus rights of thousands of Ohio public workers.

COLUMBUS, OH – A lawsuit by four Ohio public employees has secured the end of an illegal dues deduction scheme used by Ohio Civil Service Employees’ Association (OCSEA/AFSCME Council 11) union bosses to block an estimated 28,000 workers from exercising their First Amendment right to stop union dues payments. The workers obtained free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys in challenging the policy.

The class-action suit, Allen v. AFSCME, challenged OCSEA’s so-called “maintenance of membership” policy, which trapped workers in forced-dues payments except for a brief “escape period” once every three years at the expiration of the union monopoly contract. The workers argued this policy violated their First Amendment rights under the Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision.

In Janus, the High 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 consent.

After Freeing Workers, Foundation Attorneys Warn of Future Union Boss Tricks

As a result of the lawsuit, OCSEA officials and the State of Ohio have rescinded the “maintenance of membership” restriction on when state workers can exercise their First Amendment right to cut off union dues deductions.

They must also honor requests to stop dues deductions from any employees who signed the AFSCME dues authorization form at issue in the lawsuit. Finally, AFSCME bosses repaid dues seized illegally under the scheme to the plaintiffs and more than 150 other employees who tried to cut off union dues deductions after Janus was decided.

Knowing that union bosses don’t easily give up in their crusades to coerce workers into paying dues, however, Foundation staff attorneys issued a legal notice shortly after the case wrapped up, warning workers that OCSEA union bosses may soon solicit them to sign new dues deduction forms which are not covered by the litigation. The new forms will “purport to restrict” when employees can stop dues, it warns.

In light of that, the notice reminds workers that under Janus, no Ohio public employee can be forced to sign a union dues deduction form as a condition of employment, no matter what union agents may tell them.

Just Latest in String of Ohio Worker Victories over “Escape Periods”

Allen is not the only case in which Ohio public employees have, with National Right to Work Foundation legal aid, successfully challenged union boss attempts to limit their rights.

Seven other Ohio public employees won the first-in-the-nation victory against unconstitutional “escape periods” with Foundation aid in January 2019, after they filed a class-action federal lawsuit challenging a similar policy created by AFSCME Council 8 bosses. They won a settlement ending the restrictions for themselves and their coworkers. That win was followed by two other Ohio public workers, Connie Pennington and Donna Fizer, successfully ending “escape period” restrictions with Foundation assistance later in 2019.

“Although this chain of victories for Buckeye State public employees is certainly encouraging, the widespread nature of these schemes shows there remains much work to do to force union bosses to end their unconstitutional restrictions on public employees’ First Amendment Janus rights,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Foundation litigation has already freed hundreds of thousands of public employees from forced union dues, but likely millions more remain trapped and unable to exercise their rights. That is why Foundation litigators will continue to file these cases.”

23 Nov 2020

Push to Remove UFCW Union Could End Pro-Union Boss “Contract Bar” Policy

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, September/October 2020 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Non-statutory NLRB policy hinders workers’ right to vote out an unwanted union

Employees at the Selbyville, DE, Mountaire Farms plant rally to vote out unpopular UFCW honchos from their workplace, as union lawyers scramble to block the workers’ votes from being counted.

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has announced that it will review the so-called “contract bar” doctrine, which prevents employees from exercising their right to vote an unpopular union out of their workplace for up to three years if union officials and their employer have finalized a monopoly bargaining contract.

This is the latest development in a case by a Selbyville, Delaware-based Mountaire Farms poultry employee, Oscar Cruz Sosa, against the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27 union. Cruz Sosa submitted a petition in February for a vote on whether Local 27 should be removed as monopoly bargaining agent in his workplace. The petition was signed by hundreds of his coworkers, more than the percentage required to trigger such a vote.

Worker Obtains Foundation Help after Union Attempts to Block Vote

After he submitted the petition, UFCW bosses immediately claimed that the “contract bar” should block Cruz Sosa and his coworkers from even having an election, because the monopoly bargaining agreement between Mountaire and the union had been signed less than three years earlier.

Cruz Sosa then obtained free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys in defending his and his coworkers’ right to vote. With Foundation aid, he also hit UFCW agents with federal unfair labor practice charges for imposing an illegal forced-dues clause on the workplace and threatening him after he submitted the petition.

When the NLRB Regional Director in Baltimore heard the election case, he ruled that the union contract contains an unlawful forced-dues clause that mandates workers immediately pay union dues upon hiring or be fired. Under NLRB precedent, an illegal forced-dues clause means the “contract bar” cannot apply, allowing the vote to proceed.

UFCW’s Desperate Attempt to Block Vote Triggers NLRB Review of “Contract Bar”

Despite the longstanding precedent supporting the Regional Director’s ruling, UFCW union lawyers filed a Request for Review, asking the full NLRB to reverse the Regional Director and halt the election.

In response, Cruz Sosa’s Foundation staff attorneys opposed the union’s efforts to block the vote. They also argued that, if the Board were to grant the union’s Request for Review, it should also reconsider the entire “contract bar” policy, which has no statutory basis in the NLRA. The Foundation’s legal brief noted that the “contract bar” runs counter to the rights of workers under the NLRA, which explicitly include the right to vote out a union a majority of workers oppose.

Just hours after the voting process in the decertification election had begun, the NLRB issued its order granting the union’s Request for Review, while also accepting the Foundation’s request to reconsider the entire “contract bar” doctrine. The order noted “that it is appropriate for the Board to undertake in this case a general review of its ‘contract bar’ doctrine.”

Given the precedential import of this case, the NLRB solicited amicus briefs on whether the “contract bar” should be allowed to stand. UFCW officials, still desperate to throw a wrench in Cruz Sosa and his coworkers’ effort to vote them out, demanded that the NLRB rescind its request for amicus briefs in the case, but that effort was quickly rebuffed.

“We urge the NLRB to swiftly overturn this outrageous non-statutory policy, which lets union bosses undermine for up to three years the free choice of workers that is supposed to be at the center of federal labor law,” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse. “The very premise of the NLRB-created ‘contract bar,’ that union bosses should be insulated from worker decertification efforts, is completely backwards.”

LaJeunesse added: “Union officials across the country use all types of tactics to get workers into unions but rely on government power and legal tricks to prevent them from getting out.”

20 Nov 2020

Mix to US Attorney: Let Workers Refuse to Fund Scandal-Ridden UAW Bosses

 

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, September/October 2020 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Letter exhorts worker-empowering reforms as part of potential federal takeover of UAW

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, seen here with former UAW top boss Dennis Williams, is promising UAW officials the power to extract forced dues from every auto worker under their monopoly power.

DETROIT, MI – National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix sent a letter to US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Matthew Schneider, on the eve of a recent meeting between Schneider and current United Auto Workers (UAW) union President Rory Gamble. Mix urged Schneider to advance worker-empowering reforms for the corruption-ridden UAW during the meeting, which was scheduled to discuss the union’s future after a massive embezzlement and racketeering scandal that continues to unfold.

The sprawling federal probe into the union hierarchy has exposed how UAW union bosses siphoned union dues to support their lavish limousine lifestyles, including months-long opulent golf vacations in luxury condos and private villas, custom-made Napa wine, spa and amusement park visits, and $60,000 cigar-buying sprees.

The investigation has yielded the convictions of at least 14 people, including at least 11 affiliated with the UAW. Gary Jones, who was UAW President up until last fall, pled guilty to embezzling more than $1.5 million. His last official act as head of the union was to cast the tie-breaking vote to put himself on paid leave and elevate long-time ally Gamble to top boss. Earlier this year, The Detroit News reported that Gamble was also the subject of the investigation and suspected of taking kickbacks or bribes from a vendor in exchange for lucrative contracts with the union.

While a full federal takeover of the union has been proposed by federal law enforcement officials, UAW honchos appear to be hoping that a potential Joe Biden presidency will let them avoid such a fate. The UAW hierarchy in April officially endorsed Biden, who has promised to massively increase union bosses’ power over workers nationwide if elected.

In the letter, Mix points out that coercive privileges granted to the UAW by federal law created an environment in which UAW officials could all too easily take advantage of workers.

Letter Pinpoints Coercion as Source of Rampant UAW Malfeasance

“UAW union officials have perpetrated this abuse using the extraordinary powers granted to them by federal law,” specifically “their dual coercive powers of monopoly exclusive representation and authorization to cut deals mandating that rank-and-file workers pay union dues or fees, or else be fired,” Mix wrote.

The reforms Mix urged are designed to “squarely address” this coercive control that union officials have over rank-and-file workers. They include “impos[ing] an immediate recertification vote for every union local touched by the corruption,” “empower[ing] workers as individuals to fight corruption through refusing to fund the UAW,” and “impos[ing] with providing full transparency to rank-and-file workers of all union financial transactions.”

Mix concluded by pressing Schneider to “try some new ideas” that focus on empowering the workers “whose trust and money has been systematically stolen” in light of past fixes that have not deterred other union bosses from abusing their power.

Biden Presidency Poised to Let UAW Upper Echelon Off the Hook

If, as UAW brass hope, Biden is elected president, all worker victims of the UAW corruption could be forced to once again pay money to the union or else be fired. In 27 states, including Michigan where the UAW is headquartered, Right to Work laws ensure that no worker can be fired for refusing to tender dues or fees to a union hierarchy as a condition of employment. Biden has promised to ban these laws if elected.

“The revelations of greed and shamelessness that continue to arise in the UAW probe are no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the coercive privileges granted union bosses by federal law,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Though we urge Mr. Schneider to push the reforms detailed in our letter which will put the power to hold union officials accountable in workers’ hands, there is ultimately no place in federal law for provisions that force workers to pay union bosses to keep or get a job.”

Mix continued: “Joe Biden and other forced-dues proponents ought to explain why they believe tens of thousands of workers in non-Right to Work states should have been fired had they sought to cut off the forced dues being paid to Gary Jones’ corrupt UAW.”

17 Nov 2020

Swedish Medical Center Worker’s Appeal Challenges SEIU Policies that Trap Workers in Full Union Dues

Posted in News Releases

Worker’s brief to NLRB top lawyer: SEIU officials suspected of using forged signature to justify illegal deduction of full union dues

Seattle, WA (November 17, 2020) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys just filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel for Swedish Medical Center employee Daniel Dalison.

The appeal challenges the Seattle NLRB Regional Director’s conditional dismissal of unfair labor practice charges brought by Dalison against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare 1199NW. The Swedish Medical Center worker’s charges argue SEIU officials illegally created a needlessly restrictive set of procedures designed to trap workers into paying union dues in violation of their legal rights.

Dalison sent multiple letters to union officials resigning his membership and exercising his right under the Foundation-won Beck Supreme Court decision to only pay fees directly related to union bargaining. He also requested copies of his past membership cards and dues checkoff authorizations, which were the supposed basis for the SEIU continuing to deduct dues.

Dalison requested all membership and dues authorization documents he signed because he became concerned that one or more of them may have been forged, a suspicion shared by other workers. SEIU affiliates in the Pacific Northwest already face several federal lawsuits filed by workers alleging forgery of signatures on dues authorization cards in the aftermath of the Foundation-won Janus decision.

Though union officials did not provide Dalison with a copy of his earlier membership card, they eventually provided a card he allegedly signed in February 2019. This card was preprinted with Dalison’s information filled in. Some of this information is erroneous, including his phone number. Dalison does not recall signing the document or filling it out, and is concerned that it is a forgery.

To obtain his own membership documents, Dalison was told he had to complete SEIU’s three step procedure. He had to submit a request in writing, make an appointment with a union official, and appear in person and/or present an approved photo ID. Employees at Swedish Medical Center already must act quickly to revoke their dues authorizations during a narrow “escape period” that differs for each employee. The period is determined by the date the employee signed a membership and dues authorization application, the very document that can only be obtained by completing the union’s three step process.

Dalison’s charges argue the SEIU’s “write us a letter, make an appointment, and show up in person with a photo ID” restrictions are an illegal barrier to receiving time-sensitive information that allows employees to exercise their legal right to revoke their dues checkoffs and not fund union political speech. His charges say that SEIU’s restrictions violate his rights under federal law, and demands the union provide all his older membership cards, without delay or burdensome procedures, to ensure their authenticity.

Another Swedish Medical Center employee, Roger White, recently won an appeal in a separate but related case against SEIU 1199NW. With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation, the NLRB General Counsel in Washington, DC, found the Seattle Regional Director was wrong not to prosecute SEIU officials for keeping White in the dark about his right not to pay any union fees during a contract hiatus, and for the union’s “confusing and ambiguous” union dues and membership authorization card.

“As this and so many other workers’ cases demonstrate, SEIU bosses won’t hesitate to violate the rights of those they claim to ‘represent’ just to stuff their pockets will illegal forced union dues,” said National Right to Work President Mark Mix. “These cases show why workers in Washington State desperately need the protection of a Right to Work law that makes all union payments strictly voluntary.”

16 Nov 2020

Michigan Rieth-Riley Workers Petition NLRB to Overturn Regional Decision After All Votes Were Cast to Cancel Election to Remove Union

Posted in News Releases

NLRB Region 7 in Detroit abruptly issued order dismissing workers’ petition for the vote just hours before the ballots were scheduled to be counted

Detroit, MI (November 16, 2020) – Employees of the Rieth-Riley Construction Company have just filed an emergency appeal with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC, asking the Board to overturn an NLRB Regional Director’s last minute decision cancelling the workers’ vote whether to remove International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 324 from their workplace. The Region issued this order just hours before the ballots were to be counted and after the workers’ votes had all been cast.

Staff attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation represent the construction workers in the case without charge. This is the latest development in a months-long effort by Rieth-Riley workers to eject unpopular IUOE officials, in which employee Rayalan Kent and his coworkers have submitted two successive petitions to obtain a decertification election.

Although an election by mail finally began last month, on November 9, mere hours before the NLRB Detroit Region was to count the votes, the Regional Director issued a decision dismissing Kent and his coworkers’ petitions. Absent action by the NLRB in Washington, DC, the workers’ votes in their long-sought decertification election will be destroyed and never counted.

Kent submitted his latest petition for a vote to remove the union in August, with signatures from well over the number of his coworkers required by law to trigger such a vote. This petition was submitted in the hopes that new protections from the NLRB in Washington, DC, which became effective at the end of July, would better safeguard from union legal maneuvering their right to vote out the union. Kent’s Foundation-provided attorneys also invoked those reforms in a Request for Review submitted this April in defense of his first decertification petition, which the Board denied.

The NLRB Regional Director in Detroit dismissed Kent and his coworkers’ two petitions by citing unproven allegations IUOE officials have made against Rieth-Riley management in so-called “blocking charges.”

The Region’s decision flies in the face of reforms the NLRB enacted through the rulemaking process that largely eliminate “blocking charges” as a means for delaying a vote. The reforms instead mandate a system in which employees usually can exercise immediately their right to vote on whether a union should stay before the NLRB deals with any unfair labor practice charges filed against their employer.

The purpose of the reforms, which heavily cited comments Foundation attorneys submitted to the NLRB, is to stop union officials from imposing themselves on dissatisfied workers for months or even years while often-unrelated union allegations against employers are litigated. The NLRB’s final rule, in response to arguments made in the Foundation’s comments, specifically requires that votes be tallied and results announced unless the charges allege that the employer has improperly aided the decertification petition, and even then the votes will be counted unless a complaint against the employer has been issued within sixty days.

Nevertheless, the NLRB Regional Director declined to even hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether there is a causal link between IUOE union bosses’ claims and Kent and his coworkers’ effort to remove the union, claiming that the Region’s “investigation” was sufficient and takes priority over the NLRB’s new rules regarding “blocking charges.”

The workers’ appeal points out that, “even under the old rules, the Region is misapplying the law by dismissing the petitions.” It explains that the “unfair labor practice allegations do not relate to the election itself. Further, the Region did not conduct a hearing before it found a causal connection between the Employer’s alleged conduct and the decertification petitions.”

Commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix: “Rieth-Riley employees have already had to endure many months of union boss stonewalling just to exercise their right to vote out an unpopular union. NLRB Region 7’s current decision to stifle further the employees’ will makes the whole situation even more outrageous and rigged in favor of union power. The NLRB in Washington should immediately overturn this decision and order the Region to count the ballots as NLRB rules dictate.”

Mix added, “NLRB Region 7’s decision completely ignores the amended rule the NLRB in Washington issued in July, which clearly delineates why employees’ right to vote should not be delayed or hindered by unproven or unrelated union accusations against an employer. We will continue to fight for Mr. Kent and his coworkers until their long-overdue right to free themselves from the unwanted Operating Engineers union is vindicated.”