Orlando, Fla. (June 4, 2002) — Responding to federal charges brought by two Orlando area workers, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced it will prosecute the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 835 for threatening to kill or harm workers who participated in efforts to decertify the union.
Local 835 officials operate an exclusive union hiring hall that provides workers in the trade show, convention, and exhibition service industry in the Orlando area.
After investigating the unfair labor practice charges filed by James Zitis and Clay Wayman – who are represented by attorneys with the National Right to Work Foundation – the NLRB investigators found that union officials had “threatened to kill employees” and “threatened employees with the loss of work opportunities and the loss of their homes and possessions” if they engaged in activity to toss the union out of the workplace through an NLRB-supervised election.
“These union thugs have used threats and intimidation to silence dissent,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is the kind of outrageous activity that gives union officials such a terrible reputation.”
In addition to naming IATSE Local 835, the NLRB complaint cites two of its top officials, Susan Wolfgang and Peter Merrifield, for their involvement in the harassment. The NLRB has set the hearing date for September 19, 2002.
Even though Florida has a highly popular and effective Right to Work law that frees nonunion employees from paying membership dues to an unwanted union, IATSE union officials use their monopoly bargaining privileges to set up exclusive hiring halls. In such halls, the union decides which employees to refer for work at conventions and trade shows, and the workers are forced to pay the union to be eligible for work.
This is not the first finding of unfair labor practices by the NLRB against IATSE Local 835. Earlier in the year the NLRB forced IATSE union officials to post a notice alerting workers that they only had to pay fees equal to the cost of running the hiring hall. The union had been forcing non-union members to pay fees as a condition of using the hiring hall’s referral service without explaining how the fee was calculated.
Ravenna, Ohio (May 30, 2002) — With the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Kathleen Klamut, an employee of the Ravenna City Schools, filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the Ohio Education Association (OEA), and its local affiliate, for refusing to accommodate her religious objections to supporting the union.
Klamut, a practicing Christian, objects to having her money used to support the union’s pro-abortion agenda. Last Fall, when she began working as a psychologist in the Ravenna City Schools, Klamut asked to have her dues re-directed to charity – her right under the law. The OEA refused to accommodate her, and Klamut has been informed that the union hierarchy is planning to take legal action against her.
“No one should be forced to support an agenda they find morally objectionable,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Unfortunately, this not an isolated incident. Union bosses around the country try to force people of faith to support their radical social agenda.”
While working for the Louisville School System, in 1997 Klamut fought to get the OEA union and Louisville Education Association to recognize her religious objection to supporting the union. They ordered Klamut to send her money to a union-controlled organization (Carpenter/Garcia Fund) or they would refuse to honor her status as a religious objector. After a two-year struggle, Klamut was able to have her compulsory dues diverted to the American Cancer Society.
In a ruling publicized last week, the EEOC found that the National Education Association (NEA) union is systematically discriminating against religious objectors. An Ohio teacher, Dennis Robey, brought charges against the NEA and its local affiliates after they refused to honor his religious objection to supporting the union because it promotes pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality positions and constantly attempts to interfere with parental rights.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, union officials may not force any employee to support financially a union if doing so violates the employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. To avoid the conflict between an employee’s faith and a requirement to pay fees to a union he or she believes to be immoral, the law requires union officials to accommodate the employee – most often by designating a mutually acceptable charity to accept the funds.
Cleveland, Ohio (May 20, 2002) – In response to religious discrimination charges brought by Ohio teacher Dennis Robey, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will prosecute the National Education Association (NEA), if the union does not stop forcing teachers to endure annually a burdensome and invasive process before respecting their religious objections to union affiliation.
With the help of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, Robey brought charges against the NEA and its local affiliates after they refused to honor his religious objection to supporting the union because it promotes pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality positions and constantly attempts to interfere with parental rights.
“The NEA union’s illegal scheme is intended to force teachers of faith to shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “The EEOC’s action further underscores that the nation’s largest teacher union is systematically persecuting people of faith.”
Robey began to make his religious objections known in 1995. During the 1999-2000 school year, union officials rebuffed his longstanding objection and demanded that every year he must describe, in detail, his deeply held religious views, fill out a lengthy and invasive form, and file it with the union. On the form, union officials asked probing personal questions about his relationship with God, his “religious affiliation,” and required him to obtain a signature from a “religious official” attesting to the validity of his beliefs.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, union officials may not force any employee to financially support a union if doing so violates the employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. In order to accommodate the conflict between an employee’s faith and a requirement to pay fees to a union he believes to be immoral, the law allows employees instead to donate that money to charity.
The EEOC agreed with Foundation attorneys’ arguments that the nationwide union policy unlawfully places an undue burden on teachers, and that teachers need only file a one-time objection to paying forced union dues. The union’s illegal scheme is employed nationally against thousands of teachers whose sincerely held religious beliefs prevent them from supporting a union.
Under the Commission’s ruling, the NEA must stop the use of these practices or face further legal action.
Smithfield, Pa. (May 17, 2002) — With the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a Berkley Medical Resources employee, Donna Dodson, today filed charges against a needletrades union for illegally forcing her to pay full union dues, including dues spent for politics.
Dodson, a non-union member, filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) Local 131A.
“In an effort to amass a political warchest, the union’s officials are demanding that workers shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
Since Dodson began working for Berkley Medical Resources in September 2001, union officials have deducted full union dues from her paycheck without her authorization, even though she is not a union member. As part of her case Dodson is seeking a breakdown of how the agency fee is calculated, and a refund of dues money that was seized to pay for activities not directly related to collective bargaining.
The actions of UNITE 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 who are not protected by a Right to Work law may resign from formal union membership and halt and reclaim the portion of forced union dues spent on politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
“Unfortunately, this not an isolated incident. Union bosses routinely break the law to try and shake down workers to pay for their political activities,” stated Gleason.
UNITE is one of the most politically active unions in the country. Every year, union officials 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.
Armstrong, Pa. (May 14, 2002) – Facing religious discrimination charges, the state’s teacher union has begrudgingly agreed to honor the right of an Armstrong school teacher to refrain from paying dues to the union because the organization’s social advocacy violated his religious convictions.
Carl Glock, a practicing Christian, objected to association with the Armstrong Education Association (AEA) and its affiliates, the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) and National Education Association (NEA), because of their support of resolutions calling for special legal protections for homosexuality, abdicating parental responsibility, and criticizing the practice of home schooling.
After filing charges at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Glock’s attorney, provided by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, helped persuade the union hierarchy to halt its discrimination by allowing Glock to donate his monthly agency fee to the Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind, rather than funding the AEA union and its affiliates.
“For far too long, union officials have ordered people of faith to shut up and pay up,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “It’s outrageous for the union hierarchy to demand that a teacher put allegiance to the union’s radical social agenda ahead of his conscience.”
The case arose when AEA officials would only donate a portion of Glock’s 1999-2000 dues to charity and intended to keep the rest. During the 2000-01 school year, the AEA refused to honor Glock’s status as a religious objector and confiscated his entire dues payment for the union. In response, Glock contacted the National Right to Work Foundation, which provided him with free legal representation.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, union officials may not force any employee to financially support a union if doing so violates the employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. To avoid the conflict between an employee’s faith and a requirement to pay fees to a union he or she believes to be immoral, the law requires union officials to accommodate the employee – most often by designating a mutually acceptable charity to accept the funds.
Cleveland, Ohio (May 9, 2002) — The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed an amicus curiae brief with the Ohio Supreme Court in support of the Open Contracting Act, a state law that bans the use of union-only contracts, or project labor agreements (PLAs), on government construction projects.
After the law was passed, in July 1999, union lawyers sued the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners in an attempt to overturn the legislature’s decision and retain forced unionism on all state construction projects.
In their “Friend of the Court” brief, Foundation attorneys argue that the state legislature acted within its rights, under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), to pass a law prohibiting a form of compulsory unionism. The appellate court used these very arguments to uphold the law.
“It is wrong for the government to support a scheme that bilks taxpayers out of millions of dollars and deprives employees of their basic right to choose whether or not to affiliate with a union,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “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.”
A PLA is a scheme that requires all contractors, whether they are unionized or not, to subject themselves and their employees to unionization in order 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.
In October 1999, a trial court permanently enjoined enforcement of the law. In reviewing the statute, an Ohio appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision and ruled that the NLRA does not prohibit states from banning discriminatory, union-only PLAs, on government construction projects. The Foundation participated as amicus curiae in the Court of Appeals, and raised the issue of a state’s right under the NLRA to prohibit PLAs.
In February 2002, the Ohio Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction over the case, and oral arguments will be heard later this year.
Los Angeles, Calif. (May 6, 2002) — With the help of the National Right to Work Foundation, Matthew Kahn filed suit today in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE), for damages incurred during a vicious union beating following a 2001 strike.
The lawsuit alleges that on May 18, 2001, UNITE organizer Ramiro Hernandez and several union militants attacked Kahn in the parking lot of Labor Ready’s office in Commerce, giving him a concussion and several gashes on his head.
According to the complaint, the union brass bailed Hernandez, a long time union organizer, out of jail after the assault. Later investigation showed that Hernandez possesses an extensive arrest record for union-related activities.
“These thugs must be made to pay for their cowardly assault on an innocent man,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
The problems began in March 2001, when UNITE Local 482 began a strike against Hollander Home Fashions. Over the next two months, UNITE union official Ramiro Hernandez continually harassed Matthew Kahn, a branch manager for Labor Ready’s office in Commerce. Kahn was responsible for providing replacement workers during the strike. UNITE and its local affiliates were aware that Hernandez had numerous prior arrests for strike-related violence, and they have provided financial support to help Hernandez escape any punishment for his violent actions.
“By encouraging and supporting Hernandez and his goons, the top brass of UNITE are directly responsible for letting this happen,” stated Gleason.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. The National Institute for Labor Relations has recorded almost 10,000 media-reported incidents of union violence since 1975. Experts on labor- and strike-related violence estimate that unreported acts of harassment could swell that figure to 100,000 or more.
Salt Lake City, Utah (May 3, 2002) — Utah’s Third District Court has rejected union lawyers’ attempts to dismiss a counter suit, brought by employees represented by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, which calls into question the constitutionality of the fundamental union privilege known as monopoly bargaining.
In his ruling issued this week, Judge Stephen L. Henriod will also allow the employees to defend the constitutionality of Utah’s Voluntary Contributions Act (VCA) – a regulation that intends to give union members the right to withhold union dues spent for political activities. If the court refuses to uphold the VCA as constitutional, the court will consider the employees alternative argument that monopoly bargaining power – held in many locales by union officials of the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) and Utah Education Association (UEA) – is unconstitutional.
Even though Utah has a highly popular and effective Right to Work law that enables nonunion employees to pay no dues whatsoever to an unwanted union, the still-intact monopoly bargaining privilege forces employees to accept the rigid terms of “one size fits all” union-brokered contracts – contracts that tend to punish the best and most productive employees.
Union monopoly bargaining bars all employees – even union objectors – from individually negotiating over the terms of their own employment. And using their monopoly bargaining privilege, union officials refuse to allow non-union members any input into workplace issues that directly affect them.
“Monopoly bargaining often leaves employees who don’t support the union’s ideological agenda with an intolerable choice: Join the unwanted union and pay for its politics or give up their workplace voice,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys filed to intervene in this case on behalf of union members who oppose their unions’ politicking. Foundation attorneys argue that, if Big Labor lawyers succeed in overturning the VCA as an unconstitutional interference into private union matters, then monopoly bargaining must also be declared unconstitutional for all Utah’s government employees because of its inherent infringements on their rights to free speech and association.
Springfield, Va. (April 29, 2002) – On Wednesday, May 1, Iowa celebrates its 55th year of prosperity as a Right to Work state. Since 1947, Iowa’s workers have enjoyed the benefits of higher wages, better jobs, and protection from the abusive system of compulsory unionism that still plagues 28 states.
To mark this occasion, spokesmen from the National Right to Work Foundation are available to discuss the ongoing struggle to protect workers from union abuses and corruption, and to explain how Iowa has benefited from its Right to Work law, which bans the practice of forcing workers to join or support a union as a condition of employment.
“Championing the Right to Work shows that Iowa is committed to protecting individual liberty and continued economic growth,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is why the Right to Work law is so popular throughout the state.”
Recently, Iowa’s Right to Work law has been under attack from the Polk County Board of Supervisors, who intend to impose a discriminatory union-only Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for the building of the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. The Foundation is supporting efforts to halt the use of a PLA and allow Iowa’s most efficient workers and contractors to work on the project.
“The attempt of union officials to ram this union-only PLA down the throats of Iowa taxpayers shows that Big Labor is committed to destroying the precious Right to Work principle, which gives employees the freedom to choose whether or not to affiliate with a union,” stated Gleason. “This proposal discriminates against the vast majority of Iowa’s workers and illustrates the kind of abuses that flow from unchecked union coercive power.”
To schedule an interview with Stefan Gleason, please contact Dan Cronin at 703-770-3317.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (April 23, 2002) – The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California today ordered the Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG) union to return nearly $300,000 to California state employees who were illegally forced to pay for lobbying and other union political activities.
U.S. District Court Judge Garland E. Burrell, Jr., ruled that the union had seized almost $100 per employee over a seven-month period in 1999 and ordered the union to pay nominal and compensatory damages to 3,200 non-union employees, totaling approximately $298,000.
“Today’s ruling shows that California’s union officials cannot get away with ripping off the working men and women of this state,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation, which provided free legal aid to the workers.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys originally filed the class-action suit, Wagner v. PECG, in September 1999 on behalf of Richard Wagner, an investigator for the California Air Resources Board in the Sacramento area, and Kristin Schwall, a water quality engineer from San Diego. In February 2002, the case was deemed a class-action suit, enabling all 3,200 non-union government workers under the PECG’s statewide memorandum of understanding (MOU) – also known as a collective bargaining agreement – to join the suit.
The PECG is one of California’s most politically active unions. At unusually high levels, union officials have seized union dues and used them to fund its ballot initiatives and other political activities. The court held that 56 percent of the amount charged to non-union employees was not lawfully chargeable to non-members, as it was for politics and other activities not shown to be related to bargaining. In union budgets since 1999, the percentage of dues spent for politics has risen to more than 75 percent of full union dues. In recent weeks, the state engineers filed a related class-action complaint seeking a similar rebate for dues illegally seized since April 2001.
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 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.