Seattle Employee Appeals NLRB Regional Director’s Sudden Reversal in Case Against SEIU Union Officials for Illegal Dues Seizures
Regional NLRB official asked worker to amend the charge against SEIU following successful appeal, now dismisses specifically-requested charges
Washington, DC (February 23, 2021) – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Seattle building services employee Roger White is appealing the dismissal of his case charging Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199NW officials with maintaining deceptive dues practices and illegally siphoning money from his paycheck.
White’s appeal follows the dismissal of his case by the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) Seattle Regional Office, which was on track to issue a complaint against union officials as instructed by former NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb. The abrupt reversal on the case comes after President Biden’s unprecedented and legally groundless removal of Robb ten months before his term was supposed to end, and the President’s subsequent installation of union apologist Peter S. Ohr as NLRB “Acting General Counsel.”
Since his January installation, Ohr has ordered NLRB regional officials to cease prosecuting unions in several Foundation cases where workers accused union officials of illegal dues practices, or of using underhanded tactics to install themselves in workplaces without workers’ consent. In White’s case, Seattle NLRB officials have now dismissed accusations they had specifically asked White to include in amendments to his original charge, based on his successful first appeal in November 2020.
White charged SEIU bosses in April 2020 of seizing dues from his paycheck illegally after he twice attempted to exercise his right to end union membership and as a nonmember pay only the portion of dues directly related to bargaining. He also argued that his second request to end membership and pay reduced dues should have actually stopped dues deductions completely, because at the time there was a strike going on and there was no contract in effect between Swedish Medical Center (his employer) and SEIU 1199NW.
Because Washington State has not enacted Right to Work protections for its employees, White and his coworkers can be forced to pay a fee to the union as a condition of employment when a contract so requiring is in effect. However, the fee is limited by the Foundation-won 1988 CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision to only the portion of union dues that is directly germane to the union’s bargaining functions, which excludes expenditures on political and lobbying activities.
Union officials must also follow certain Beck procedures before collecting such fees, such as providing workers an independent audit of the union’s expenses. While White’s case was being litigated, General Counsel Robb issued a memo ordering NLRB regional officials to prosecute unions whose officials failed to follow Beck procedures, but that memo and others protecting workers’ rights were rescinded by Ohr on February 1, 2021.
The NLRB Regional Director in Seattle initially threw out White’s charges, ruling that SEIU officials were not obliged to inform White that he was not required to pay union fees during a contract hiatus. Foundation attorneys appealed that decision to then-NLRB General Counsel Robb, arguing that the SEIU owed White a “duty of truth and honesty,” and decrying the fact that the SEIU was able to “‘hide the ball’ and continue collecting dues” during the contract hiatus despite White’s clear “notice that he want[ed] to disassociate” from the union as much as possible.
In response to the appeal, Robb agreed with the Foundation staff attorneys’ arguments on November 6, 2020, concluding union officials violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by keeping White in the dark about his rights during the contract hiatus. The General Counsel further found that the union had maintained a “confusing and ambiguous Membership Application, Voluntary Check-Off Authorization and Payroll Deduction document.”
These checkoff documents, which employees are pushed to sign to allow dues deductions, did not provide enough information to enable workers to make an informed decision on whether to opt-out of membership and full dues, violating the principles of Beck. Robb also found that the SEIU’s dues checkoff authorization form “may be interpreted to preclude employees from revoking their authorization upon expiration of the contract.”
Robb ordered NLRB Region 19 in Seattle to issue a complaint against SEIU officials for the violations, and the Regional Director asked Mr. White twice to amend his charge to cover everything that Robb had mentioned when he sustained White’s first appeal. However, following Biden’s termination of Robb and elevation of Ohr in his place, the Region 19 Director suddenly dismissed the case, undoing explicit instructions he had given White only months earlier. Foundation staff attorneys are now appealing this dismissal, arguing that the current administration’s agenda to protect union boss privileges has tainted the NLRB’s judgment.
“Biden sought to turn the NLRB, an independent agency, into a tool of his pro-forced unionism ideology by removing Peter Robb without precedent or legal basis, and installing a union boss puppet in his place. The repercussions of that action on workers’ rights are being felt every day by independent-minded employees across the country,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This has yielded some truly outrageous results: in Mr. White’s case, Seattle NLRB officials are now dismissing charges against SEIU 1199NW officials that they specifically told Mr. White to present to them.”
Mix continued: “Top SEIU bosses spent big to put Biden in the White House. Apparently their reward is a ‘get out of jail free’ card for their violations of the rights of independent-minded workers.”
Oregon Cameraman Asks Labor Board to Reject Act of Biden-Selected ‘Acting General Counsel’ Peter Ohr as Without Proper Legal Authority
NLRB asked to deny motion filed for Ohr on grounds that Biden illegally fired and replaced Senate-Confirmed General Counsel Peter Robb
Washington, DC (February 17, 2021) – Oregon-based ABC cameraman Jeremy Brown is challenging an attempt by National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) so-called “Acting General Counsel” Peter Ohr to withdraw a brief that Ohr’s predecessor, Peter Robb, filed defending Brown from threats he received from a union lawyer. Brown submitted his opposition brief to the full NLRB with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
Foundation staff attorneys argue that Ohr has no legal authority to withdraw Robb’s brief because President Biden’s unprecedented firing of Robb breached federal law, and Biden’s subsequent elevation of Ohr to Acting General Counsel violated the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause.
Ohr was installed as Acting General Counsel by President Biden in January, following Biden’s unprecedented move only minutes after his inauguration to oust Robb as General Counsel, despite nearly eleven months remaining on Robb’s Senate-confirmed term.
Since the office of NLRB General Counsel was established in 1947, no sitting General Counsel of the NLRB has ever been terminated by a president before the end of their Senate-confirmed four-year term, not even when the White House changed hands. For example, Obama’s pick for General Counsel, former union lawyer Richard Griffin, remained the General Counsel for most of the first year after Trump’s election (until Griffin’s term expired on 10/31/17).
Brown’s brief contends that the National Labor Relations Act’s “creation of a four-year term” for the NLRB General Counsel and the “absence of language providing that the position serves at the pleasure of the President” together demonstrate that Biden lacked authority to remove Robb. “[C]onverting the Agency’s General Counsel into a purely political position” as Biden attempted with Robb’s firing, the brief continues, “would do irreparable damage to the NLRB’s function as an independent agency responsible for” enforcing private sector labor law.
Regarding Ohr’s installment after Robb’s unprecedented removal, the brief explains that the Appointments Clause of the Constitution “draws a broad and stark distinction between inferior officers (who can themselves be hired by department heads) and principal officers (who must be nominated by the president personally and confirmed by a majority of the Senate).” The brief points out that, “if the President can remove a principal officer and indefinitely assign that officer’s responsibilities to someone who lacks Senate confirmation,” as Biden did, “this central distinction is largely illusory” and no longer provides the Senate a check on the president’s power.
Oregon Cameraman Wins Ruling Charging NABET Bosses with Illegal Dues Seizures
A December 3 ruling by an NLRB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) Local 51 union bosses have, since April 2019, breached federal labor law by violating Jeremy 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 decline 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. As applied by the courts and the NLRB, 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.
The ALJ ordered 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.
While the case was being litigated, however, Brown received a series of intimidating messages from NABET’s lawyer, who threatened to seek “damages” against Brown if he did not comply with union demands to preserve evidence.
Brown’s charges against NABET concerning the menacing correspondence are now before the full NLRB. Robb’s brief, which Ohr’s motion asks to withdraw, supports Brown’s Foundation-provided attorneys’ argument that the Board should hold that the threats were unlawful.
“Almost every day of Peter Ohr’s ersatz tenure as NLRB ‘Acting General Counsel’ confirms the obvious: that President Biden fired Robb to protect the privileges of his union political allies and help them escape legal scrutiny with ease, always at the expense of workers’ individual rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix.
“The full NLRB should reject Ohr’s attempt to cancel Robb’s brief in this case, and rule both that Robb’s removal was unlawful and that Biden’s designation of Ohr as ‘acting’ General Counsel violates the Constitution’s Appointments Clause,” added Mix.
National Labor Relations Board Takes Up Michigan Rieth-Riley Workers’ Case Defending Vote to Oust IUOE Union Bosses
DC Board will review regional ruling ordering workers’ ballots be destroyed and not counted due to unrelated “blocking charges” union officials filed
Washington, DC (February 12, 2021) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, DC, will hear Michigan Rieth-Riley Construction Company employee Rayalan Kent and his coworkers’ case, following a Request for Review filed with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
This is the latest development in a months-long effort by Rieth-Riley employees to exercise their right to vote unpopular International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 324 union bosses out of their workplace.
In November 2020, Detroit NLRB officials ruled that the ballots that Kent and his coworkers had already cast in their vote to remove the union should be destroyed. That decision will now be reviewed. Even though Kent had submitted two valid petitions requesting a decertification vote, Detroit NLRB officials dismissed both petitions just minutes before the ballots were slated to be counted due to so-called “blocking charges” filed by union bosses.
Kent submitted his latest petition for a vote to remove the union in August 2020, with signatures from well over the number of his coworkers required by law to trigger such a vote. The petition was submitted in the hopes that new July 2020 protections set by the NLRB in Washington, DC, 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 in April 2020 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 “blocking charges.”
According to Kent’s appeal, the Region’s decision ignored a recent NLRB rule that largely eliminated “blocking charges” as grounds for curtailing decertification votes. The reforms mandate that in nearly all cases workers’ requested ballot should proceed immediately, with the votes then promptly tallied before the NLRB deals with any “blocking charge” allegations union officials filed.
The purpose of the reforms, which heavily cited comments the Foundation submitted to the NLRB, is to stop union officials from maintaining monopoly bargaining power despite widespread worker opposition 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, requires that votes be tallied and results announced unless the charges allege the employer has improperly aided the decertification petition: Even then, the votes still 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 link between IUOE union bosses’ claims and Kent and his coworkers’ effort to remove the union: Instead, she claimed that the Region’s “investigation” was sufficient and takes priority over the NLRB’s new rules regarding “blocking charges.”
The workers’ appeal pointed out that, “even under the old rules, the Region is misapplying the law by dismissing the petitions.” It explains that the union bosses’ “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.”
“While we are pleased that Region 7’s decision to destroy Mr. Kent and his coworkers’ ballots will now be reviewed, years of litigation should not be required just so workers can exercise their right to vote out union bosses they oppose,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “We proudly stand with Mr. Kent and all workers who seek to exercise this right without union boss interference.”
National Right to Work Foundation Files FOIA Request Regarding Biden Admin’s Firing of NLRB GC Robb, Suppression of Foundation Cases
Top union bosses demanded Robb’s ouster, which was immediately followed by agency tossing Foundation cases challenging union officials’ violations of workers’ rights
Washington, DC (February 9, 2021) – Following the Biden Administration’s unprecedented and legally dubious removal of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Peter Robb and his second-in-command, Alice Stock, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has just submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the agency to dig deep into this unfolding scandal.
The FOIA request asks for all correspondence related to Robb’s and Stock’s firings, and two Foundation-supported cases for workers which were hastily suppressed by NLRB Acting General Counsel Peter Ohr shortly after he was installed in Robb’s place by President Biden. Both cases challenged union officials’ collusion with management to foist union representation on hotel workers without even an employee vote.
On January 20 at 12:23 PM, a mere 23 minutes after the President formally took office, President Biden’s Office of Presidential Personnel demanded that Robb resign or be fired. After Robb refused to resign, citing the unprecedented nature of the demand and his Senate confirmation to a four-year term, he was fired that same day. Robb’s deputy, Alice Stock, received a similar threat the next day only to be fired as well when she refused to resign.
Since the office of NLRB General Counsel was established in 1947, no sitting General Counsel of the NLRB has ever been terminated by a president before the end of their Senate-confirmed four-year term, even when the White House changed hands. For example, Obama’s pick for General Counsel, former union lawyer Richard Griffin, remained the General Counsel for most of the first year after Trump’s election (until his term expired on 10/31/17).
In addition to general information regarding the circumstances of Robb’s removal and Ohr’s installation, the FOIA request specifically asks for documents regarding two cases brought by hotel employees challenging so-called “neutrality agreements.” Robb had sustained employee appeals in both cases and ordered NLRB regional officials to issue complaints against UNITE HERE union officials and hotel management. Both cases were just a few weeks away from scheduled trials before NLRB Administrative Law Judges.
However, about a week after Robb’s unprecedented firing, Ohr directly ordered Seattle NLRB officials to withdraw the complaint and dismiss one of the cases, which had been filed by Foundation staff attorneys for Embassy Suites housekeeper Gladys Bryant. The Seattle Region did so on January 29. The next business day, Boston NLRB officials dropped the other case, which Foundation staff attorneys were litigating for four Boston Yotel housekeepers who had had UNITE HERE thrust upon them.
The FOIA request also demands all documents germane to Ohr’s rescission of a September 2020 memo issued by Robb, which advised NLRB regional officials to adopt a consistent standard in “neutrality agreement” cases. Foundation staff attorneys maintain in both the Boston and Seattle cases that because NLRB case law forbids employers from providing “more than ministerial aid” to employees who attempt to vote out, or decertify, an unwanted union, the same standard must apply in cases where union officials obtain employer assistance in installing a union as workers’ monopoly “representative.” Robb’s memo had endorsed that neutral application of the law.
The request demands “all documents and communications” concerning these issues between Ohr and “any Member of the U.S. House of Representatives or any U.S. Senator,” “any officer, employee or representative of a labor organization,” “any representative of…the Biden-Harris transition organization,” or “any official or employee of the U.S. Government, including officials and employees of the National Labor Relations Board,” among other parties.
“The Biden Administration’s radical, unprecedented firing of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb immediately resulted in so-called Acting General Counsel Peter Ohr quashing two Foundation-backed cases which threatened a key privilege union bosses use to seize power over workers across the country,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This FOIA request seeks documents related to this scandalous power grab, which is clearly designed to shut down multiple NLRB prosecutions of Biden’s union boss political allies for their violation of workers’ legal rights.”
Recently, Reason Magazine published an article by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix describing the ongoing legal battle between teachers at San Diego’s Gompers preparatory academy and San Diego Education Association union officials.
Gompers teachers have been fighting to hold a decertification vote that would remove union officials from the school for over a year, but have been met with resistance from union lawyers and the state bureaucracy. The teachers are defending their rights with free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys:
“Kristie Chiscano, a teacher who left a career as a surgeon to serve Gompers students, sought a school that wasn’t unionized: “I chose to work at a school that didn’t have a union and now they’ve come in and they’re running everything about my contract and my work.”
Chiscano and many of her fellow teachers wanted a secret-ballot vote to remove the union. Under California law, enforced by the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), public employees must wait one year to request a decertification vote after a union is certified. Chiscano and others collected enough signatures from teachers (over the 30 percent needed) and planned to file the petition with the PERB soon after the one-year waiting period expired.
But when the union got wind of the teachers’ push for that vote, SDEA lawyers preemptively filed “blocking charges” against the school, leading to the PERB’s regional attorney blocking the decertification petition from moving forward. Now, a year after the petition, the election is still blocked because the board’s rules favor union officials over independent-minded employees.
Under PERB policy, public employees’ right to decertify can be blocked even if the employees who signed and filed the petition are not alleged to have done anything wrong. In deciding whether to block a vote, proof of the union officials’ allegations is irrelevant because the PERB must treat them as true. So when Chiscano appealed the regional attorney’s ruling blocking the decertification election, the PERB in Sacramento upheld the block because the regional official was right to assume the veracity of the union’s allegations with no independent investigation.
With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, Chiscano and her fellow teachers continue to fight for a vote, now two years after the union was installed without a vote and over a year after the teachers requested the decertification election.”
You can read the full article here.
Dr. Chiscano spoke to the Foundation last year about the effect union monopoly control has had on Gompers, its teachers and its students:
First Circuit Court of Appeals Rejects Union Attempt to Overturn Ruling that Nonmember Workers Cannot Be Forced to Fund Union Lobbying
Denial of union boss request for rehearing en banc leaves in place unanimous Appeals Court panel decision in favor of Rhode Island nurse
Boston, MA (February 4, 2021) – In another victory for longtime Rhode Island nurse Jeanette Geary, the First Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a request by United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) union lawyers to rehear UNAP v. NLRB, a case in which they sought to overturn a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling in favor of Geary and her fellow nurses who objected to being forced to pay for union lobbying expenses. Geary was not a member of the UNAP union in her workplace and filed federal charges with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys in 2009 after union officials infringed on her and other nonmember nurses’ rights under the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision.
Geary, who worked as a nurse at Kent Hospital in Warwick, Rhode Island, filed unfair labor practice charges after UNAP officials failed to provide her evidence of a legally required independent audit of its breakdown of expenditures. She also challenged the union’s forcing her and other employees to pay for union lobbying activities in state legislatures.
The Foundation-won Beck decision mandates that private sector workers in states without Right to Work protections can only be forced to pay union dues for union activities “directly germane” to the union’s bargaining functions, which excludes political activity like lobbying. In another Foundation-won case, Hudson, the Court held that union officials must provide an audited financial breakdown of how forced union dues are being spent.
The NLRB ruled against Geary in a decision issued in 2012, but that decision was invalidated by the Supreme Court’s holding in NLRB v. Noel Canning that the Board lacked a valid quorum because of unconstitutional “recess appointments” then-President Obama had made. Seven years later, Geary’s case was one of the only remaining decisions invalidated by Noel Canning still pending without a decision by the NLRB.
In January 2019, Foundation staff attorneys filed a mandamus petition at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seeking a court order that the NLRB promptly decide Geary’s case. The Appeals Court then ordered the NLRB to respond to that petition by March 4, 2019, which caused the NLRB to issue its decision on March 1, 2019, just ahead of the deadline.
The NLRB ruled 3-1 that union officials violate workers’ rights by forcing nonmembers to fund any union lobbying activities. It also ruled that union officials must provide independent verification that the union expenses they charge to nonmembers have been audited. Unwilling to stop forcing workers to fund lobbying activities, UNAP union bosses then asked the First Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn this ruling.
Oral arguments were held before the First Circuit in March 2020, with veteran Foundation staff attorney Glenn Taubman arguing for Geary. One of the judges on the First Circuit panel was retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter. In September, the First Circuit decided unanimously in favor of Geary, ruling that “we see no convincing argument that legislative lobbying is not a ‘political’ activity,” while also finding that the NLRB was correct that Supreme Court precedent dictated that nonmembers could never be required to fund union lobbying.
Rather than accept this limitation on their power to force workers to fund union activities as a condition of employment, union lawyers requested that the case be reheard by every judge on the Court of Appeals. Finally today (February 4, 2021) the First Circuit denied the union lawyers’ request for a rehearing with no judge dissenting.
The decision to deny rehearing en banc and leave in place the panel’s unanimous decision that unions violate workers’ rights when they attempt to force them to pay for any lobbying comes just three days after ersatz NLRB acting General Counsel Peter Ohr rescinded a Guidance Memo to NLRB Regional Directors seeking the enforcement of workers’ rights under the Geary/Kent Hospital precedent. Ohr was installed as Acting General Counsel following President Biden’s unprecedented and likely unlawful firing of General Counsel Peter Robb, who authored the memo on enforcing employees’ rights under Kent Hospital.
“The First Circuit’s unanimous ruling for Ms. Geary, followed by denial of rehearing, demonstrates the clarity of the Supreme Court’s standard in Beck, and shows how flagrantly UNAP officials disregarded her and her coworkers’ Beck rights well over a decade ago,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While it is just plain wrong to force workers to shell out cash for union political expenses as a condition of keeping their jobs, federal labor law as a whole needs reform so no worker is forced to accept or pay for the ‘representation’ of union hierarchies they don’t want and never requested.”
Shamrock Foods Employees in Idaho Decisively Vote Teamsters Union Out of Workplace Following Union Boss Attempts to Block Election
Union officials had blocked vote for over 6 months using non-statutory “successor bar” despite widespread opposition to union
Boise, ID (February 4, 2021) – Truck drivers at the Boise and Twin Falls Shamrock Foods facilities have successfully removed unpopular Teamsters Local 483 union officials from their workplace, following a blowout decertification election in which workers voted 26-4 to oust the union. The workers obtained free legal aid from staff attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation in defending their right to vote out the Teamsters, after union bosses blocked a previous petition for a vote using a non-statutory National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) policy known as the “successor bar.”
The NLRB is the federal agency charged with enforcing federal labor law and investigating unfair labor practices. The “successor bar,” which appears nowhere in the federal statute governing most private sector labor relations, blocks employees from voting out union bosses for up to a year after a new employer takes over in a workplace. Prior NLRB majorities created this bar out of whole cloth.
In October 2019 Shamrock Foods acquired two warehouses where Teamsters officials held monopoly bargaining power, but bargaining talks between the Teamsters and Shamrock didn’t begin until December 2019. Shamrock employee Curtis Thomason submitted to the NLRB a petition containing well over the number of employee signatures necessary to trigger an NLRB-supervised vote to remove the union in May 2020.
However, in July 2020, the NLRB Regional Office in Denver dismissed Thomason’s petition, claiming it should be blocked by the “successor bar” because it was submitted “within six months of the first bargaining date” between Shamrock Foods and Teamsters officials. Thomason then obtained free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys and appealed his case to the full NLRB in Washington, challenging the “successor bar” as a violation of his and his colleagues’ right under federal law to remove union officials they no longer want.
While his appeal was pending, but after the “successor bar” waiting period had expired, Thomason submitted a second decertification petition in December 2020. This petition was processed, and the decertification election was administered by the NLRB late last month. The NLRB tallied the votes this week and announced that the workers had voted overwhelmingly to ditch the Teamsters.
Thomason and his coworkers’ successful decertification comes as the NLRB considers several important Foundation cases that take aim at other non-statutory barriers preventing workers’ decertification elections. Most notable are three challenges to the NLRB’s “contract bar” doctrine, which prevents rank-and-file workers from voting out an unpopular union for up to three years following the signing of a contract between management and union bosses.
“Although we are happy Mr. Thomason and his co-workers were finally able to remove unpopular Teamsters bosses from their workplace, this case is a sobering example of how the so-called ‘successor bar’ and other NLRB-created ‘bars’ let union bosses game the system and foist the union on workers who overwhelmingly reject its so-called ‘representation,’” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While Mr. Thomason’s case to overturn this pernicious doctrine was rendered moot when the election finally took place, Foundation staff attorneys will unwaveringly stand with workers who face the injustice of having their statutory right to remove unwanted union ‘representation’ blocked, until all these Board-concocted policies to entrench union bosses are finally removed.”
Worker Advocate Slams Biden NLRB Appointee’s Decision to Nix Complaint against Union and Hotel for Colluding to Unionize Employees
Withdrawal comes after Biden’s unprecedented dismissal of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, who backed appeal of housekeeper who filed case
Washington, DC (January 29, 2021) – Following President Biden’s unprecedented firing of Senate-confirmed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Peter Robb, President Biden’s new ersatz Acting General Counsel ordered the withdrawal of an unfair labor practice complaint against a Seattle-area UNITE HERE union local and the Pioneer Square Embassy Suites in Downtown Seattle.
With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Gladys Bryant, a housekeeper at the hotel, charged both union officials and hotel management with covertly using a “neutrality agreement” to impose union representation on her and her coworkers without an employee vote. In November 2019, Robb sustained an appeal Bryant’s attorneys filed after NLRB Region 19 originally dismissed her charges against Embassy Suites and UNITE HERE, ordering Region 19 to reverse course and issue the complaint.
Today, on the instructions of the Biden-selected “Acting General Counsel,” the Seattle Regional Director rescinded the complaint against the union and employer rather than let it proceed to a trial conducted by an Administrative Law Judge that was set to begin on February 16.
National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix issued the following statement blasting the Biden NLRB’s decision to end prosecution of the case:
“The withdrawal of this complaint shows exactly why President Biden carried out his unprecedented, legally dubious firing of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb: so Biden’s handpicked NLRB replacements could protect the privileges of Biden’s union boss political allies at the expense of individual workers’ rights. In this case, like many others, Robb enforced the statutory rights of independent-minded workers against union boss attempts to coerce workers into union ranks and dues payment.
“The complaint in this case, issued following this hotel housekeeper’s successful appeal to Robb, was against both union officials and her employer and merely sought to ensure that the Board’s ‘ministerial aid’ standard is applied neutrally, no matter whether workers are seeking to remove or impose union monopoly bargaining powers. Today’s action shows that Big Labor and its allies in the Biden Administration are unwilling to even apply the NLRA in a fair, unbiased manner when doing so empowers workers who refuse to toe the union line. The National Right to Work Foundation is proud to stand with workers challenging all types of union coercion. Ms. Bryant’s Foundation staff attorneys are currently exploring her legal options for challenging this attack on workers’ rights and the independence of the NLRB General Counsel.”
Bryant filed unfair labor practice charges after the UNITE HERE Local 8 union was installed at the Embassy Suites hotel in May 2018 through an oft-abused “card check” drive which bypassed the NLRB’s regular secret-ballot election process. As part of the so-called “neutrality agreement,” Embassy Suites gave union organizers space in the hotel to meet and solicit employees. It also provided union officials with a list of all employees’ names, jobs, and contact information to assist the union in collecting authorization cards from workers. Moreover, hotel management sent employees a letter telling them that it “had a productive relationship” with the union.
After NLRB Region 19 officials declined to prosecute the union or employer for violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), Bryant appealed the case to NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb in January 2019. In response to the appeal, Robb found that the union’s “card check” recognition was tainted because Embassy Suites through the “neutrality agreement” provided significant aid to the union officials’ organizing efforts in violation of the NLRA.
Bryant’s Foundation attorneys argued that Embassy Suites provided UNITE HERE’s organizing campaign with more than so-called “ministerial aid” and thus violated the NLRA. The NLRB has long held that an employer taints employees’ efforts to remove a union if it gives the employees support such as providing a list of bargaining unit employees or use of company resources. Robb agreed with Foundation staff attorneys that the “ministerial aid” standard must apply consistently regardless of whether an employer’s assistance is in favor of or opposed to unionization.
President Biden Fires NLRB GC Robb in Unprecedented Move
On January 20 at 12:23 PM, a mere 23 minutes after the President formally took office, President Biden’s Office of Presidential Personnel demanded that Robb resign or be fired. After Robb refused to resign, citing the unprecedented nature of the demand, he was fired that same day. Robb’s deputy, Alice Stock, received a similar unprecedented threat only to be fired as well the next day when she refused to resign.
Since the office of NLRB General Counsel was established in 1947, no sitting General Counsel of the NLRB has ever been terminated by a president before the end of their Senate-confirmed four-year term, even when the White House changes hands. For example, Obama’s pick for General Counsel, former union lawyer Richard Griffin, remained the General Counsel for most of the first year after Trump’s election (until his term expired on 10/31/17).
Aside from supporting Bryant’s and other employees’ cases challenging unfair “neutrality agreements,” Robb has ordered complaints to be issued for independent workers in Foundation-backed cases challenging other illegal union practices. Robb has been particularly protective of workers’ rights in cases where workers seek to challenge union officials’ attempts to coerce them into subsidizing union political activities (which could include efforts to elect Biden). Robb has also backed rule changes that make it easier for employees to exercise their rights to vote out unions that are unpopular or established themselves as monopoly bargaining agents through underhanded means.
“Robb’s unprecedented removal is nothing more than a payback to one of Biden’s biggest political backers – union bosses – whom Robb frequently prosecuted for violating federal labor law, including by illegally forcing workers to support Big Labor’s electoral efforts,” added Mix.
National Workplace Advocacy Group to Charter School Teachers: ‘Don’t Be Afraid to Exercise Your Rights to Resist Union Boss Power’
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President issues statement in recognition of National School Choice Week
Washington, DC (January 29, 2021) – Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, issued the following statement in recognition of National School Choice Week 2021:
In this year’s School Choice Week, more and more Americans are seeing firsthand the benefits of letting parents choose which type of education will best serve their children’s needs. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, teacher union officials have held parents, children, and independent-minded teachers hostage to unreasonable and evidence-free demands designed to perpetuate and expand union officials’ one-size-fits-all monopoly over government education.
Prime targets of teacher union officials in recent years have been ever more popular and successful charter schools. Union bosses have even used Coronavirus as a pretense for demanding a moratorium on the opening of new charter schools, a cynical attempt to block teachers and parents from escaping union-dominated government school systems.
When they can’t block the existence of charter schools, teacher union bosses have employed coercive tactics to foist their so-called ‘representation’ onto charter school educators. This puts charter school students and teachers at risk: Many parents and teachers prefer charter schools precisely because they reject the one-size-fits-all approach national and state teacher union bosses promote.
Take, for example, Gompers Preparatory Academy in San Diego, California. The school made an impressive transition in 2005 from a traditional public school to a charter school after a campaign by parents, teachers, and administrators who believed that public school district and union bureaucracies were not serving the students’ interests.
In 2019, after being unionized through a contentious ‘card check’ drive that bypassed a secret-ballot election, Gompers teachers began circulating a petition for a vote to remove the union. Union officials have now for more than a year blocked the teachers from exercising their right to vote the union out. On top of that, union officials face legal charges filed by Gompers educators for attacking teachers and their coworkers on social media just for wanting to exercise their right to a vote to remove the union.
Charter school employees are entitled to certain constitutional and statutory rights, but unfortunately union officials frequently attempt to keep employees in the dark about those rights. That is why National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have provided direct, free legal aid to over 10,000 teachers since its founding, including the teachers at Gompers, and why the Foundation has its Charter School Initiative. Foundation-won legal precedents have also expanded the workplace rights of millions of teachers across the country.
Led by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the National Right to Work Foundation’s Charter School Initiative aims to enlighten charter school employees about their rights so that they can make decisions about union representation in an atmosphere free of union boss threats, harassment, coercion, or misrepresentation. To that end, Foundation attorneys have developed free educational materials for charter school teachers and other charter school employees. Furthermore, Foundation staff attorneys are prepared to defend charter school employees from the injustices of forced unionism, as they are now doing for Gompers teachers.
Charter school teachers and other employees: You have rights. For more information about your rights and the Foundation’s Charter School Initiative, check out our website at http://www.nrtw.org/charterschools.
Sacramento-Yolo Employees Win Ruling in California Labor Board Case Charging IUOE Union Bosses with Illegal Surveillance
Union boss demanded personal emails of Sacramento-Yolo District workers seeking information about holding a vote to remove the union from their workplace
Sacramento, CA (January 27, 2021) – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, three Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District employees just received a favorable decision from a California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The employees’ case charged that International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 3 officials interfered with their rights under California law to remove the union from their workplace by targeting their protected communications through a California Records Act request.
The ALJ decision confirms the workers’ charges that IUOE union officials had “unlawfully surveilled [their] protected conduct” and also finds that the workers were “harmed by the unlawful surveillance when they learned of it.” As a result, the decision orders union officials to immediately stop monitoring the workers’ email activity about the union. The decision also requires IUOE Local 3 to post copies of the decision in all Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District workplaces where the union maintains monopoly bargaining power and to send the decision to all bargaining unit employees through electronic means, including email.
The employees, Brett Day, Ryan Wagner, and Mark Pipkin, were targeted by union officials after they discussed with other District employees how to exercise their rights as public workers under California’s Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA). That statute guarantees public workers “the right to refuse to join or participate in the activities of employee organizations” and “the right to represent themselves individually in their employment relations with the public agency.” Union agents requested from their employer all emails the three and other named employees had sent containing the words or phrases “decertification,” “PERB,” “union,” “decertify,” “how to get rid of union,” “Public Employee Relations Board,” and “Meyers Milias Brown Act.”
That request was made as IOUE officials sought to block a push for a decertification election, in which workers would vote in secret to determine whether a majority want to end the union’s monopoly representation. Under the 2018 Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the dissenting workers finally have the legal right to stop financial support of the union, yet California law still forces the union on them as their monopoly bargaining agent.
Day, Wagner, and Pipkin defended themselves by obtaining free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys and filing charges with PERB. The workers’ charges argued that the union’s demand for employee emails interfered with their right to communicate with their coworkers about voting out the union, as protected by the MMBA. In May 2019, PERB found merit in Day, Wagner, and Pipkin’s charges and issued a complaint on which to prosecute the union.
The decision notes that employees’ knowledge of being spied on by union officials “has a deleterious effect on [their] future exercise of rights” and thus ruled that Day, Wagner, and Pipkin “suffered harm to their protected right to communicate with coworkers about unionization, decertification, and the Union in general.” The ALJ’s decision will become the PERB’s official decision in 20 days, unless one of the parties files exceptions to it.
“IUOE union bosses’ conduct in this case clearly demonstrates that they were far more interested in maintaining their one-size-fits-all bargaining power over Day, Wagner, and Pipkin’s workplace than in respecting the rights and privacy of the very workers they claim to represent,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “This favorable decision underscores why government sector union bosses should not have the privilege of forcing their so-called ‘representation’ on all employees in a public workplace, especially not over the objections of employees who oppose the union.”
“Even though the Foundation-won Janus decision eliminated the scourge of forced union dues for public employees, there is ultimately no place for compulsory unionism of any kind in state or federal labor law,” Mix added.