2 Aug 2002

Court Upholds Teachers’ Right to Know How Union Spends Confiscated Dues

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San Francisco, Calif. (August 2, 2002) – The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that local affiliates of the California Teacher Association (CTA) must provide teachers with an independent verification of how they spend employees’ forced union dues.

With the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the case was brought by San Jose teacher Kim Sheffield, and seven other California teachers, against the CTA and eight of its locals in March 2000. The Court of Appeals yesterday affirmed the U.S. District Court ruling that the locals cannot collect agency fees until they provide an independent verification of how their agency fees were calculated. Without an outside accountant’s verification, non-members cannot determine whether they are being forced to pay for union activities unrelated to collective bargaining, such as the union’s political agenda.

“The court’s decision is a small step toward preventing teachers from getting ripped off by union officials,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “For too long, union bosses have gotten away with hiding their use of employees’ forced union dues to support their radical political agenda.”

Under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as articulated in the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, union officials must provide independently audited disclosure of their books and justify expenditures made from forced union dues seized from teachers who have chosen to refrain from union membership.

According to the constitutional protections construed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-won decisions of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, the union may only collect compulsory dues that are proven to be spent on collective bargaining activity. Politics, lobbying, organizing, public relations, and other non-bargaining activities are explicitly non-chargeable to employees who have exercised their right to refrain from union membership.

The CTA and its national affiliate the National Education Association (NEA), are two of the most politically active unions in the country. Every year, both organizations seize millions of dollars in compulsory dues to support candidates and causes that many of their members find objectionable. Polls have consistently shown that a majority of rank-and-file union members object to having their dues spent for political activities.

30 Jul 2002

Statewide Union Must Allow Refund of $87,000 in Dues Illegally Seized From Teachers

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Boston, Mass. (July 30, 2002) — In a long running legal battle that twice made it all the way to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission (MLRC) has ordered the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) and National Education Association (NEA) to release $87,000 in union fees that were illegally seized from 350 teachers across the commonwealth.

Under the Commission’s ruling – which ends the teachers’ 13 year case brought with the help of attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation – the MTA and NEA must release from escrow union fees that were illegally demanded from teachers from 1987 to 1992. If the teachers had not filed challenges, then the fees would have been used to pay for union politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining. Under Massachusetts law, if a teacher does not want to join the MTA they are still forced to pay a fee that covers collective bargaining activity, or be suspended or fired.

“The decade-long hassle the teachers received in fighting for their rights proves the great problem workers have stopping unions from using their money for politics,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Until Massachusetts’ workers have the protection of a Right to Work law they will continue to be harassed and ripped off by union bosses.”

The case began in 1989, when Springfield teacher Jim Belhumeur refused to join and support the NEA’s ideological activity. Teacher union officials had Belhumeur, a former Springfield representative for the American Federation of Teachers, suspended for refusing to pay full union dues. With the help of Foundation attorneys, Belhumeur was able to challenge the amount union officials demanded in agency fees without continuing to be suspended each year.

According to the constitutional protections construed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Foundation-won decisions of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, a union may not collect compulsory dues spent on activities unrelated to collective bargaining. Politics, lobbying, organizing, public relations, and other non-bargaining activities are explicitly non-chargeable to employees who have exercised their right to refrain from union membership.

25 Jul 2002

Settlement Punishes Union for Misleading Workers and Illegally Seizing Dues for Politics

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Lancaster, Pa. (July 25, 2002) — The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) forced United Steelworkers of America (USWA) Local 1035 into a settlement of unfair labor practice charges brought by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation for Raymond Vojtowicz, an employee of Acme Markets Incorporated.

As part of the settlement, USWA Local 1035 must honor Vojtowicz’s resignation from the union and refund his dues and fees that were used for non-representational purposes. The union must also post a notice alerting employees of Acme Markets of their right to refrain from formal union membership and that they will reimburse all non-member employees for any dues seized for non-representational purposes since October 24, 2001.

“The greed and corruption of this USWA local’s officials is outrageous,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “They have been misleading and lying to the people they claim to protect, just to keep the money flowing into their political machine.”

Vojtowicz contacted the Foundation after USWA Local 1035 officials had threatened to take “disciplinary” action against him for participating in a deauthorization election in January 2002. The NLRB found that Vojtowicz could not be disciplined by the union because they never notified him of his right to refrain from union membership and pay a reduced fee that covers activities related only to collective bargaining.

USWA Local 1035 officials violated Vojtowicz’s rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck, a case that Foundation attorneys argued and won, workers may halt and reclaim forced union dues spent on politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.

25 Jul 2002

Government Demands That Teamsters Union Return Dues Illegally Seized From Workers

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Buffalo, N.Y. (July 25, 2002) — Responding to federal labor charges filed by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a complaint to force Teamsters Local 449 to refund dues illegally collected from employees of Laidlaw Transit Services after they were expelled from union membership for voicing opposition to the union.

The case arose when four workers, Alfonso Ditillio, June Reinard, Jill Galluzzo, and Tim Stalker, filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB in April 2002. In October 2001, the employees exercised their right to resign from formal union membership and to pay a reduced fee to cover only the costs of collective bargaining. However, Teamsters officials illegally refused to accept their resignations and continued charging them full union dues.

In December 2001, Teamsters officials further harassed the workers by expelling them from the union for participating in a decertification election to remove the union from the workplace. Even after the expulsion, union officials continued to demand that the four workers pay full union dues.

“This is another classic example of the corruption and bully tactics that has earned the Teamsters such an embarrassing reputation,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “So long as New Yorkers labor under forced unionism, this kind of abuse will invariably continue.”

The NLRB seeks an order requiring Teamster official to refund all of the union dues collected from the workers since December 2001. Under law, if an employee is kicked out of a union for any reason other than failing to pay union dues he cannot be compelled to pay any dues whatsoever to the union — despite the existence of a forced unionism requirement in the collective bargaining agreement.

17 Jul 2002

Union Forced to Refund Illegally Seized Dues

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (July 17, 2002) — Responding to charges filed by attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) prosecutors have forced the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200 to refund illegally seized union dues from employees of the Marsellus Casket Company.

This is the second time the NLRB has issued a formal complaint against SEIU Local 200 in the past year. Under the NLRB’s original settlement, issued in November, SEIU Local 200 officials were ordered to refund the employees’ dues and fees that were used for non-representational purposes. Union officials disregarded the agreement and continued illegally seizing workers’ dues to pay for union politics.

“What incredible arrogance. These union officials just thumbed their noses at the government’s prosecutors and the employees they claim to represent,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The actions of SEIU officials suggest that they will do virtually anything to keep money flowing into their political operations.”

As part of the second settlement, the NLRB has also mandated the union must post a notice alerting workers and employees of the Marsellus Casket Company of their right to refrain from formal union membership and the payment of full union dues.

The settlement also requires SEIU union officials to notify objecting workers what percentage of their dues is being used to fund non-representational activities, including political activities. Under law, an employee may resign from formal union membership, pay a reduced fee, and further challenge the veracity of the union’s figures.

The case was originally filed in July 2001 by Foundation attorneys for three company employees, Mark L. Miller, Scott Bayer, and David Sprague. SEIU officials violated the workers’ rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck, a case that Foundation attorneys argued and won, workers may halt and reclaim forced union dues spent on politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.

15 Jul 2002

Bush Ban on Discriminatory Union-Only Contracting Upheld by Appellate Court

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 15, 2002) — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld the Bush Administration’s Executive Order 13202, which bans discriminatory union-only contracts, also known as project labor agreements (PLAs), on federally funded construction projects.

In support of the Bush administration, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed an amicus curiae (Friend of the Court) brief with Associated Builders and Contractors and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The three-judge panel unanimously agreed with the arguments that the executive order was not preempted by the congressionally enacted National Labor Relations Act and that President Bush acted within his constitutional authority by issuing the Executive Order banning union-only contracts.

“The court’s decision is a step toward protecting workers and taxpayers from higher costs and other abuses that flow from compulsory unionism,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason.

A PLA is a scheme which requires that all contractors, whether they are unionized or not, subject themselves and their employees to unionization to work on government-funded construction projects. PLAs usually require contractors to grant union officials monopoly bargaining privileges over all workers; use exclusive union hiring halls; force workers to pay dues as a condition of employment; and pay above-market prices resulting from wasteful work rules and featherbedding.

More than 80 percent of American contractors and their employees have refrained from unionization.

A coalition of union officials filed Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, et al. v. Allbaugh, et al. after President Bush issued the order in February 2001 to establish a policy of non-discrimination on federal contracting. The appellate court’s decision overturns an injunction issued by the U.S. District Court last year.

“PLAs are nothing more than a shakedown — union officials use them to demand taxpayer handouts and government-granted special privileges in exchange for not ordering strikes or causing other disruptions,” said Gleason.

27 Jun 2002

Union Faces Unfair Labor Practice Suit After Illegally Firing Worker

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In response to being illegally fired for refusing to pay union dues for politics, a Huntleigh Corporation employee today filed charges against the Allied Services Division, Transportation Communications International (TCU) union.

With help from the National Right to Work Foundation, Ralph Lanton III filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after union officials would not provide a breakdown of how his dues were calculated. The union forced the illegal firing of Lanton when he refused to pay full union dues, including dues spent for politics.

Foundation attorneys are also seeking a restraining order to have Lanton reinstated at his job.

“No one should have their career destroyed because the union broke the law,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “How can union officials claim to be on the side of workers when they thwart their ability to make a living?”

In April 2002, TCU officials demanded that Lanton pay an agency fee equal to full union dues or face termination from his job. In response, Lanton asked for a written account of how the union spends workers’ dues and asked for a reduction in the fee because he was not a union member. In violation of the employee’s constitutional and due-process rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court, TCU officials rejected both of these requests and had Lanton fired on June 10.

The actions of TCU officials violated the rights established by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Communications Workers v. Beck decision. Under Beck, a case that Foundation attorneys argued and won, workers who are not protected by a Right to Work law may resign from formal union memberships and halt and reclaim the portion of forced union dues spent on politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.

Every year, union officials seize millions of dollars in compulsory dues to support candidates and causes that many rank-and-file workers find objectionable. Polls have consistently shown that a majority of union members object to having their dues spent for political activities.

25 Jun 2002

Spaulding Composites Employees Hit Union with Unfair Labor Practice Charges

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With the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, three employees of the Spaulding Composites Company filed charges against union officials for illegally forcing them to pay union dues spent for politics and other non-bargaining activities.

Kathy Pinault and two other employees filed the charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Paper, Allied Industrial, Chemical, and Energy Workers International Union (PACE), Local 1-1424.

The workers’ case highlights the abuse that is common in states like New Hampshire, since it has not yet passed a Right to Work law. A Right to Work law bans the common union practice of forcing employees to pay union dues to get or keep a job.

“Rather than entertain political objections from workers, the union’s officials would prefer that they shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Without the protection of a Right to Work law, New Hampshire workers are forced to pay compulsory union dues or risk losing their jobs.”

In December 2001, the workers asked the union hierarchy for financial disclosure of union expenditures. PACE officials responded with a document that the union’s own handpicked accountants admitted was not an audit, despite the independent audit requirement handed down by a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in a case brought by Foundation attorneys.

PACE International is one of the most politically active labor unions in the country. Every year, union officials seize millions of dollars in compulsory dues to support candidates and causes that many rank-and-file workers find objectionable. Polls have consistently shown that a majority of union members object to having their dues spent for political activities.

“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Union bosses routinely try to hide behind misinformation and outright threats to keep workers paying for their political activities,” stated Gleason.

The actions of PACE officials directly violate the Foundation-won Supreme Court decision in Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson, which requires union officials to provide an audited disclosure of their books and justify expenditures made from forced union dues seized from employees who have chosen to refrain from formal union membership.

24 Jun 2002

San Diego Public Employee Union Faces Unfair Labor Practice Prosecution

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San Diego, Calif. (June 24, 2002) — Responding to charges filed by an employee of the City of San Diego, the California Public Employment Relations Board (CPERB) has decided to prosecute the San Diego Municipal Employees’ Association (MEA) union for overtly discriminating against non-union members.

Enjoying free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Tanya DuLaney filed charges after the MEA union decided to withhold dental coverage from all non-union members. MEA’s actions are in violation of several California statutes that are intended to protect an employee’s right to abstain from membership and that require union officials to fairly represent an employee.

The scheme was designed to pressure employees into signing up as formal union members, thereby causing them to give up certain rights, including the ability to refrain from funding union political activities.

“The union’s practice of cutting deals with the city that intentionally hang some workers out to dry is deplorable,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “As long as union bosses are given a monopoly on representing employees in the workplace, they will continue to operate with little accountability.”

As part of the Memorandum of Understanding between the union and the city, union officials tried to withhold benefits, such as dental coverage, from all non-member employees.

With the support of Governor Gray Davis over the past four years, government union officials have seized control over much of California’s economy and workers. For example, Davis signed a law that requires all California State University (CSU) professors to pay union dues unless they are members of a state-approved religion. Under this law, state and union officials can exercise the power to pass judgment on the acceptability of the religious beliefs of CSU employees.

18 Jun 2002

Unions Appeal Right to Work Ruling

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Muskogee, Okla. (June 18, 2002) – Union lawyers have filed an appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to overturn Oklahoma’s new Right to Work Law, a measure that makes union membership voluntary while creating new jobs.

“The decision to file an appeal is another slap in the face to the voters of Oklahoma who rejected the unions’ cynical campaign of misinformation last fall,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, whose legal-aid attorneys will be representing employees defending the Right to Work law at the appellate court.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, Oklahoma has led the nation in the creation of jobs since the passage of Right to Work last September. The economic growth seen in Oklahoma is part of a larger trend that shows Right to Work states having higher rates of economic growth in comparison to states with pervasive forced unionism.

“The workers of Oklahoma are already seeing the benefits of living in a Right to Work state,” said Gleason. “When will union officials end their hostility toward employee freedom and the creation of new jobs for Oklahomans?”

On June 6, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frank Seay ruled on motions for summary judgment submitted by Governor Frank Keating’s legal team and attorneys for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, who represented several Oklahoma workers in defending the law.

The court held that, as in other states, the Right to Work law cannot be enforced with regard to employees covered by the Railway Labor Act (RLA) or employees of the federal government. But the law clearly and constitutionally protects employees who work for private companies under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Meanwhile, the court held that the minor provisions that banned exclusive union hiring halls and payroll deduction were pre-empted by federal law.

The Oklahoma AFL-CIO, six local unions, and a heavily unionized company filed the original suit last November in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma to overturn the will of Oklahoma’s voters, who enacted State Question 695 on September 25, 2001. The Right to Work constitutional amendment bans the widespread union practice of forcing workers to join an unwanted union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. Oklahoma is the newest of America’s 22 Right to Work states.