13 May 2020

Foundation Case Featured in the Wall Street Journal: “Chicago’s Union Pickpockets”

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The Wall Street Journal published an editorial in Tuesday’s paper detailing how two teachers are suing the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation, because union officials are forcing workers to pay dues in violation of their rights as recognized in the Foundation’s Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court victory.

The editorial quotes one of the two teachers represented by Foundation staff attorneys and shows how CTU and the Chicago School Board continued to take money from them in violation of their First Amendment rights:

When the CTU went on strike last fall, Joanne Troesch and Ifeoma Nkemdi didn’t want to stop teaching. Ms. Nkemdi says her second graders are “incredible, highly intelligent young people” but “already disenfranchised,” so “I didn’t feel they needed to be away from school, period. . . . Time away was going to be detrimental.”

Both teachers quit the union, and in late October asked Chicago Public Schools to stop deducting dues from their paychecks. But even after receiving notice, the union continued to pilfer $35.71 from Ms. Troesch and $59.51 from Ms. Nkemdi every two weeks. The CTU claims members may revoke permission for dues deductions only during the month of August, and anyone who leaves after that must pay until the next escape window.

The editorial also cites Foundation attorney Bill Messenger on such union-created “escape window” schemes:

As of May 1, there were some 89 active lawsuits nationwide challenging similar union “escape windows” or the forced collection of dues, says Bill Messenger, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation lawyer who argued Janus. He represents the two teachers.

The editorial concludes that federal courts need to enforce the Janus decision against these “escape window” schemes:

[CTU’s top lawyer] says the union operates “stringently within the letter of the law.” The union’s escape-window shenanigans show otherwise. Federal courts need to enforce Janus or it will have no meaning.

4 Apr 2020

Foundation in the Wall Street Journal: More Changes Necessary to Protect Workers’ Right to Vote Out Unwanted Unions

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After the National Right to Work Foundation filed comments in January in support of policies to protect workers, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued its final rule eliminating some barriers that prevented workers from being able to decertify a union they oppose.

Late last year, National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix wrote in the Wall Street Journal encouraging the NLRB to remove such barriers for workers by highlighting actual examples of how these types of NLRB rules hurt working men and women across the country:

A variety of other nonstatutory policies, doctrines and “bars” prevent workers from holding votes to oust unions they oppose. In many cases, the policies are applied one after the other, blocking escape routes.

A majority of workers at a Wisconsin trucking company experienced this over the past two years. First, they were blocked from removing their union by the so-called voluntary-recognition bar. This stops workers from decertifying a union for up to a year after the union is installed through “card check”—a procedure that avoids the need for a secret ballot and makes workers vulnerable to union intimidation.

Then, after waiting a year for that bar to expire, the Wisconsin workers found they had been merged by Teamsters officials into a multicompany nationwide bargaining unit of about 24,000 workers. Suddenly the petition to oust the local union was 7,000 signatures short—for a workplace with fewer than 10 union workers. Last month the NLRB declined the Wisconsin workers’ appeal, though a majority of voting board members signaled they would revisit the “merger doctrine” policy in the future.

Mix went on to discuss more of the bureaucratically-created policies, including the recently eliminated “blocking charge” policy, that allow union bosses to prevent workers from choosing who represents them:

Other workers face other hurdles: The “settlement bar” blocks a decertification vote because of an NLRB settlement to which the workers weren’t a party; the “successor bar” blocks a vote for up to a year after a company is acquired; the “contract bar” blocks a vote for up to three years after a union contract is forged; and a “blocking charge” blocks a vote while union allegations against a company are pending. None of these are required by law.

The NLRB is addressing the voluntary-recognition bar and blocking charges through the current rule-making process, but the other policies are similarly destructive of workers’ legal right to vote out a union that lacks majority backing. Congress should act to protect workers from being trapped in union ranks they oppose, but in the meantime the NLRB has the authority to eliminate these barriers.

After the Foundation’s comments and advocacy, the NLRB has finally removed the “blocking charge” and “voluntary recognition bar” rules, but there is more work to be done to protect workers and remove barriers.

1 Apr 2020
31 Dec 2019

Featured Article: “The Future Looks Bright for the Right to Work Movement”

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The Regulatory Review has ranked the essay entitled “The Future Looks Bright for the Right to Work Movement” by National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Raymond J. LaJeunesse, Jr. as one of the publication’s top essays in 2019.

The essay highlights successes in the ongoing fight against forced unionism through legal and legislative reform:

Thomas Jefferson famously said that it is “sinful and tyrannical” for government “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors.” That principle is consistent with the guarantees of freedom of speech and association enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Yet, some federal and state labor laws in this country have long authorized requirements that workers pay union dues as a condition of employment, requirements known as the “union shop” or “agency shop.” Increasingly, however, legislatures and courts are recognizing that workers have a constitutional right to work without being forced to subsidize a union.

Among recent achievements for the Right to Work movement are five new state Right to Work laws passed since 2012 and the landmark Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision in June 2018.

The complete essay is available to read online here.

20 Dec 2019

National Right to Work Foundation In the Wall Street Journal: “Trapped by the Teamsters”

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Recently the Wall Street Journal published a piece by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix titled “Trapped by the Teamsters.”

The op-ed describes the numerous NLRB policies, doctrines and “bars” workers across the country face when merely attempting  to hold a vote to oust Teamsters bosses and other union officials as their monopoly bargaining so-called “representative.” The article illustrates these coercive policies through recent examples faced by workers who have turned to the Foundation for free legal aid:

A majority of workers at a Wisconsin trucking company experienced this over the past two years. First, they were blocked from removing their union by the so-called voluntary-recognition bar. This stops workers from decertifying a union for up to a year after the union is installed through “card check”—a procedure that avoids the need for a secret ballot and makes workers vulnerable to union intimidation.

Then, after waiting a year for that bar to expire, the Wisconsin workers found they had been merged by Teamsters officials into a multicompany nationwide bargaining unit of about 24,000 workers. Suddenly the petition to oust the local union was 7,000 signatures short—for a workplace with fewer than 10 union workers. Last month the NLRB declined the Wisconsin workers’ appeal, though a majority of voting board members signaled they would revisit the “merger doctrine” policy in the future.

Other workers face other hurdles: The “settlement bar” blocks a decertification vote because of an NLRB settlement to which the workers weren’t a party; the “successor bar” blocks a vote for up to a year after a company is acquired; the “contract bar” blocks a vote for up to three years after a union contract is forged; and a “blocking charge” blocks a vote while union allegations against a company are pending. None of these are required by law.

The NLRB is addressing the voluntary-recognition bar and blocking charges through the current rule-making process, but the other policies are similarly destructive of workers’ legal right to vote out a union that lacks majority backing. Congress should act to protect workers from being trapped in union ranks they oppose, but in the meantime the NLRB has the authority to eliminate these barriers.

Union officials unable to win the support of a majority of the workers they purport to represent shouldn’t maintain power solely because of bureaucratic rules. Instead, whenever enough workers file a petition to remove a union they oppose, the NLRB should simply let them vote.

Read the whole piece here.

31 Oct 2019
4 Oct 2019

Alaska Governor Issues Executive Order to Enforce Janus Rights as Advocated by National Right to Work Foundation

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Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy recently issued an executive order to protect the First Amendment rights of all state employees under the Janus v. AFSCME decision won by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation at the United States Supreme Court in June 2018.

Under the new rule, adopted following a formal opinion by Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, the state will deduct union fees only from the paychecks of employees who have filed a waiver with the state acknowledging their wishes to have union dues taken from their paychecks despite their right under Janus not to fund any union activities.

Tho order follows an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal by National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix and veteran Foundation staff attorney William Messenger (who argued the Janus case at the Supreme Court) which encouraged Gov. Dunleavy to take this proactive step to enforce the Janus decision in Alaska, and also urged elected officials in other states to follow Alaska’s example:

Politicians in state capitals where Big Labor has a stranglehold are resisting compliance with Janus. Faced with both government and union resistance, public employees have filed dozens of lawsuits seeking to stop unions from seizing money from their paychecks.

But not all elected officials are so beholden to union bosses. Some are willing to put employee freedom before the interests of union officials. Alaska started that process Tuesday when, at the request of Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Attorney General Kevin Clarkson issued a formal opinion delineating how the state must change its payroll process to comply with Janus by ensuring that employees “freely and knowingly consented to have dues deducted from their paychecks.” Alaska’s solution includes stopping dues deductions absent an annual renewal of the waiver.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are being taken out of workers’ paychecks each month without any evidence that they waived their First Amendment right not to fund union activities, including partisan electioneering. Other state officials, along with federal agencies, should follow Alaska’s example.

The complete op-ed is available online here.

Public sector workers can learn more about their First Amendment rights under the Janus decision by visiting MyJanusRights.org.

9 Sep 2019

Labor Day Media Round Up: National Right to Work Commentaries Highlight Injustices of Forced Unionism

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On Labor Day, the National Right to Work Foundation generated significant coverage in both national and local media outlets, especially on newspaper opinion pages. Foundation President Mark Mix wrote a number of pieces for outlets around the country highlighting the injustices of compulsory unionism and what can be done to protect workers freedom.

Mix wrote for USA Today that no American should be forced to pay union dues just to get or keep a job and highlighted the prevalence of compulsory unionism despite Right to Work laws gaining ground:

Twenty-seven states have now enacted and implemented right-to-work laws, with five joining in the last eight years.

And on June 27 of last year, the U.S Supreme Court handed down one of the most significant employee rights legal victories in the history of the right-to-work movement with the Janus decision, which ended the forced payment of union dues or fees for millions of government workers nationwide.

Unfortunately, there are more private sector American workers in the 23 non-right-to-work states and others in the railway and airline industries who still work under compulsory unionism.

Mix also wrote a column for the Detroit News arguing that no worker should ever have to fear union violence just because they disagree with union tactics or thuggish strong-arming:

Violence, the threat of violence and the wrongful non-violent use of fear and intimidation by union thugs should be illegal. No exceptions.

The spreading UAW corruption scandal shows that union bosses often act as though they are above the law.

For the Lexington Herald-Leader, Mix wrote about how Kentucky’s Right to Work law benefits the state, and why they need to protect it from the attacks of Democrat and gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Andy Beshear, who wants to give power back to union bosses should he be elected to replace Governor Matt Bevin a friend of Right to Work:

Beshear wants to return the Commonwealth of Kentucky to the days of workers being forced to hand over a portion of their hard-earned paychecks to the union boss elites to get or keep a job. Meanwhile, the Bevin Administration has spearheaded record economic growth after passing Right to Work here in Kentucky.

Even putting that enormous economic growth aside, the fact is that one candidate favors allowing Big Labor to extract money from workers’ paychecks, and the other candidate has worked tirelessly to protect Kentucky workers’ right to hold onto their paychecks without union boss interference.

And for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Mark wrote how Right to Work laws have benefitted Nevada’s workers and families for more than half a century, causing noticeable effects for the state’s economy:

There is a reason Tesla’s Gigafactory is located in Nevada and not California. A nationwide 2017 survey of business leaders conducted by Chief Executive magazine found that, by a 2-to-1 margin, CEOs prefer adding jobs in right-to-work states over other states.

Business owners correctly view states that have passed right-to-work laws as being more welcoming and business-friendly than high-tax, forced-dues states such as California. That is why federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that from 2013-18, factory employment growth in Nevada was more than three times greater than in Western forced-union states such as Colorado, Oregon and Montana.

Just a few days after Labor Day, the Daily Caller published a timely op-ed from Mix regarding the Trump Administration’s rules to make it harder for union officials, like those implicated in the unfolding UAW scandal, to spend worker’s money on themselves or fuel their corruption:

At the end of May, the Trump Labor Department unveiled a rule that, as a contemporaneous news account filed by the Law360 legal news service explained, imposes “financial disclosure requirements for certain trusts that unions set up, scrutiny the agency says will ‘deter fraud and corruption.”
The proposed rule would reestablish the Form T-1, which until it was scuttled by union-label Obama administration bureaucrats in 2010 blocked officers of unions with $250,000 or more in annual revenue from using trusts supposedly created to benefit rank-and-file members to circumvent the federal reporting requirements for such unions that Congress instituted in the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.

In addition, Mix wrote two op-eds, one for Right to Work states and the other for non-Right to Work states, which were sent out across the country and printed in local newspapers. They highlight the benefits of Right to Work laws and the problems that forced unionism causes.

1 Sep 2019
2 Aug 2019

Wall Street Journal Highlights Foundation Litigation to Enforce Janus v. AFSCME

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In June 2018, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys won the landmark Janus v. AFSMCE case at the U.S. Supreme Court. The Janus decision established that the First Amendment protects public-sector workers from being forced to pay dues or fees to a union against their wishes.

Union bosses have widely blocked public employees from exercising their Janus rights using a variety of coercive tactics, requiring Foundation staff attorneys to pursue dozens of follow-up cases to enforce Janus.

Recently The Wall Street Journal published an article highlighting this ongoing litigation and heavily cited veteran Foundation staff attorney Bill Messenger:

The opt-out window is a favorite post-Janus union tactic for retaining members. More than 40 lawsuits against these “escape period” requirements are pending across the country, according to Bill Messenger, an attorney with the National Right to Work Foundation who argued Mark Janus’s case at the Supreme Court. …

Mr. Messenger and lawyers at LJC argue that these opt-out window requirements flout the Janus ruling, which clarified that a worker must give affirmative consent to become a union member. Before Janus, they argue, workers couldn’t give free, knowledgeable consent because they faced an unconstitutional choice between being a member or an agency-fee payer. Unions are violating the free-speech rights of members like Ms. Callaghan, who joined before Janus, by forcing them to wait for opt-out windows to leave. …

More than 80 lawsuits are challenging union efforts to hang on to unwilling members. Often handled by nonprofits like the LJC and NRTW Foundation, these suits fall into four main camps: challenging opt-out window restrictions, seeking compensation for pre-Janus agency fees paid by nonmembers, fighting exclusive union representation, and extending Janus to the private sector. These cases aren’t litigating the merits of unions; they’re seeking to codify workers’ freedom to choose whether they want to be in one.

Read the complete column from The Wall Street Journal here.