Union officials made Facebook, Instagram posts criticizing teachers for supporting union removal
Los Angeles, CA (April 19, 2021) – Two teachers at The Gompers Preparatory Academy charter school in San Diego filed unfair practice charges against the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) teachers union for posts it made about the educators on the union’s social media accounts. The teachers filed charges with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Dr. Kristie Chiscano and Jessica Chapman are vocal advocates for a union decertification vote at Gompers, which would give teachers an opportunity to have a secret ballot election on whether to remove SDEA union officials as Gompers teachers’ monopoly bargaining “representative.” More than a year ago, Dr. Chiscano circulated a decertification petition and obtained well over the required number of signatures for a vote, but an election has been delayed because of union legal challenges.
When the SDEA obtained monopoly bargaining authority over the school’s teachers in 2019, Gompers teachers weren’t allowed to have a private, secret ballot election. The SDEA instead took advantage of the controversial “card check” unionization process, during which union organizers pressure individual teachers into signing cards that are counted as “votes” for the union.
According to the charges filed by Dr. Chiscano and Ms. Chapman, union officials are again using public pressure tactics, this time to stymie the decertification effort. In retaliation for their expressed opposition to the union, SDEA officials posted a slide presentation on its Instagram and Facebook accounts attacking the teachers for working with the Foundation to seek a decertification vote.
The slide presentation included pictures of both teachers, and examples of their calls for decertification. As the charges state, the union’s social media posts made it clear that union bosses were keeping tabs on the teachers’ decertification efforts. As their filing explains, under longstanding labor law precedent, it is illegal surveillance which unlawfully interferes with employee rights when an employer or union “openly engages in record-keeping of employees participating in protected activity.”
The SDEA’s posts about Dr. Chiscano and Ms. Chapman violated the law because they publically demonstrated that union officials knew about and were collecting evidence of the two employees’ opposition to monopoly representation.
Under PERB precedent, unlawful surveillance is considered an implicit threat that the information will be used to the detriment of those being surveilled. The teachers are seeking to have the posts removed, and for the SDEA to send a notice to all Gompers teachers acknowledging the posts violated the law.
“The posts SDEA officials made attacking Dr. Kristie Chiscano and Jessica Chapman are a blatant violation of their right to advocate for self-representation without union harassment,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “These posts send a message to other teachers that if they speak out against the union, they could face similar online attacks.”
“The PERB should condemn these attacks on independent-minded teachers, and allow Gompers educators to have their long-overdue vote on whether to remove the union officials who are attacking the very educators they claim to represent,” added Mix.
Mountaire Farms Employee Leading Effort to Oust UFCW Union Bosses Seeks to Defend Employer Decision Not to Hand Over His Personal Info
Oscar Cruz Sosa moves to intervene in union case charging employer with refusing to help them surveil and harass him
Washington, DC (April 8, 2021) – Delaware Mountaire Farms poultry worker Oscar Cruz Sosa, who is spearheading a worker effort to vote United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27 union bosses out of the Mountaire Farms plant in Selbyville, DE, is now seeking to intervene in UFCW union officials’ case against Mountaire Farms management for refusing to hand over to them his private employee information.
Cruz Sosa filed a Motion to Intervene at Region 5 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Baltimore today with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys. Foundation staff attorneys are also assisting Cruz Sosa and his coworkers in defending their right to oust UFCW officials from their workplace.
The new motion comes after Cruz Sosa himself filed federal charges last month against UFCW brass for illegally retaliating against him and attempting unlawful surveillance of his activities, by demanding from Mountaire Farms records of his activities in and around the plant.
Cruz Sosa’s charge incorporated information from a complaint NLRB Region 5 issued in the UFCW bosses’ case against the employer, which revealed that Mountaire Farms officials had rebuffed intrusive union requests for “[c]opies of the daily hours of work and the time and attendance records for employee Oscar Cruz Sosa between August 1, 2019 and March 15, 2020,” and “the daily admission log…for all access points to the Selbyville plant identifying by name” anyone who has accessed the plant since March 2020.
As Mr. Cruz Sosa’s filing points out, many “Board and federal court cases support [his] intervention to protect his rights to campaign for decertification without being spied upon.”
Meanwhile, Cruz Sosa and his coworkers are still waiting for the NLRB in Washington to rule in their decertification election case. In that case, the workers are defending their already-cast ballots from UFCW lawyers’ attempts to have those ballots destroyed. UFCW lawyers claim that a non-statutory NLRB policy called the “contract bar” should have blocked Cruz Sosa’s petition, even though it was signed by hundreds of his colleagues requesting the election. The non-statutory “contract bar” policy entrenches unions for up to three years after management and union officials broker a contract.
NLRB Region 5 ruled that the decertification vote should proceed because of an invalid forced dues clause in the contract, and UFCW lawyers quickly demanded review of that ruling by the full NLRB. The NLRB agreed to review the case, but also agreed with Foundation staff attorneys’ arguments that the entire “contract bar” policy should be re-evaluated, as it arbitrarily blocks workers’ right to remove unpopular union bosses for as long as three years.
Cruz Sosa and his coworkers are also fighting in another unfair labor practice case to get back dues collected under the illegal forced dues clause that blocked the contract bar and threw a wrench in UFCW bosses’ initial attempt to stop the vote. Just weeks ago, Cruz Sosa objected to a settlement proffered in that case by NLRB Region 5. According to his objections, that proposal “[sought] to ferret out for relief what is likely to be a minuscule handful of employees” even though all of his coworkers were harmed by the clause, which unlawfully compelled employees to pay dues immediately upon hiring or be fired. Federal law mandates a 30-day grace period on such demands. Cruz Sosa’s charge demands unit-wide dues refunds for all employees.
“UFCW union bosses’ campaign to thwart Mountaire Farms employees’ right to vote them out of their workplace is pernicious and far-reaching, and even includes the current attempt to twist the employer’s arm for personal information so they can unlawfully surveil an employee in retaliation for assisting his coworkers in exercising their rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Mr. Cruz Sosa’s attempt to intervene in this case should serve as a reminder of his strong motivation to fight back, and highlights the lengths to which union officials will go to maintain their one-size-fits-all ‘representation’ against the will of the very workers they claim to represent.”
Federal Judge Greenlights Las Vegas Flight Attendant’s Lawsuit Challenging Illegal Forced Union Dues Arrangement with Airline
Suit: Allegiant Airlines illegally revoked flight attendant’s ability to bid for assignments because he did not pay forced union dues
Las Vegas, NV (April 8, 2021) – A federal judge recently ruled that Ali Bahreman, a flight attendant for Allegiant airlines, can proceed with his lawsuit against the Transportation Workers Union of America Local 577 (TWU) and his employer. Last week the judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada denied motions filed by TWU and Allegiant to dismiss the case. Bahreman is receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Bahreman filed his complaint in May of 2020 challenging an illegal “union security” agreement between TWU officials and Allegiant. As an airline employee, Bahreman’s dealings with his employer and TWU officials are governed by the Railway Labor Act (RLA). Even though Nevada, where Bahreman is based, has a Right to Work law to ensure union financial support is strictly voluntary, the RLA excludes airline and railroad workers from state Right to Work protections.
This means that under the RLA, union officials are allowed to negotiate with employers to extract forced union fees from nonmembers by signing “union security” agreements. But, as Bahreman’s complaint points out, the RLA only allows agreements that make union dues payments “a condition of continued employment.”
In other words, although Allegiant can agree to fire employees who do not pay forced union dues or fees, workers cannot be required to make payments to TWU officials as a condition of on-the-job benefits. Yet that is what Allegiant’s union security agreement with TWU bosses does: it conditions Bahreman’s ability to use “bidding privileges” on his paying the union a forced fee. This violates his statutory rights under the RLA.
“Bidding privileges are the source of a flight attendant’s ability to schedule preferred trips, vacations, and nonworking days,” Bahreman’s complaint explains. Because he was not a TWU member and had not paid forced union fees, Allegiant notified Bahreman on September 3, 2019, that his bidding privileges were being suspended.
According to the complaint, “Loss of bidding privileges affects Bahreman’s quality of life by requiring that he be constantly on call to work and therefore cannot plan days off or hold secondary employment.” Bahreman’s complaint argues the revocation of his bidding privileges is illegal because Allegiant’s “union security” agreement with TWU bosses is not allowed under the RLA.
Bahreman’s brief asks the court to declare Allegiant and TWU’s illegal so-called “union security” agreement null and void, and to permanently enjoin the two from enforcing similar illegal agreements in the future. It further asks the court to restore Bahreman’s bidding privileges and compensate him for damages suffered while he was without them.
This is not the first time Allegiant has faced legal challenges to its agreement with TWU officials. In November 2020, flight attendant Annlee Post filed a federal lawsuit against the airline and union for threatening to take away her bidding privileges. Post objects to TWU membership on religious grounds, and offered to direct her compulsory dues payments to charity instead. Post’s Right to Work Foundation attorneys argue that threatening to revoke her bidding privileges violates not only the RLA, but Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, because her loss of workplace privileges results from Allegiant’s refusal to accommodate her sincere religious beliefs.
“Allegiant Airlines and TWU officials are enforcing an agreement that is clearly illegal, at the expense of independent-minded workers like Ali Bahreman and Annlee Post,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “These cases demonstrate why a National Right to Work law is needed to protect all American workers from forced union dues, including those under the RLA who currently cannot be covered by state Right to Work protections.”
UNITE HERE Bosses Back Down after Honolulu Kaiser Permanente Employee Files Federal Charge Challenging Illegal Dues Seizures
Employee asserted right under Beck Supreme Court decision to opt-out of paying for union politics
Honolulu, HI (April 6, 2021) – By filing federal charges against the UNITE HERE Local 5 union, Honolulu Kaiser Permanente employee Nina Chiu has successfully defended her rights under the CWA v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision. She received free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys in filing her charges.
Beck was won by Foundation staff attorneys in 1988. The Court held that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) mandates that union officials cannot force private sector workers who decline formal union membership to pay union fees as a condition of keeping a job for anything unrelated to the union’s bargaining functions. This includes the union’s political expenditures. The Beck precedent also requires union bosses to provide nonmember employees with an independent audit of the union’s breakdown of expenditures, their process for determining the reduced union fee amount, and information on how to challenge the union’s determination.
Chiu, though she is not a union member, can still be forced to pay this reduced amount of union fees as a condition of employment because Hawaii lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector employees. Under Right to Work, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary.
According to Chiu’s charge against the UNITE HERE Local 5 union, even after she submitted two letters exercising her Beck rights, she had “not received a financial breakdown and [was] still being charged the equivalent of full dues.” Consequently, her charge argued, the UNITE HERE Local 5 union breached Chiu’s rights under the NLRA, which guarantees all workers the right to “refrain from any or all” union activities.
NLRB documents now show that UNITE HERE officials have backed down and reduced Chiu’s dues payments “consistent with Union’s determined dues chargeable rates” and mailed her “the Union’s Auditor’s Report, Union’s Statement of Expenses, and procedure for challenging the Union’s dues chargeability determination.”
Chiu’s victory comes as Foundation staff attorneys assist many other workers subjected to Beck rights violations by union officials. Most recently, Foundation attorneys aided Queens, NY-based UPS employee Kamil Fraczek in filing a federal charge against Teamsters Local 804 officials, who had unlawfully demanded that he become a union member and authorize full dues deductions from his paycheck or be fired.
“While we are pleased that Ms. Chiu has successfully defended her rights under Beck to abstain from paying for union politics, employees should not have to file federal charges to get union bosses to respect their rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “That Ms. Chiu and other employees across the islands can be forced to pay anything to union bosses they have actively chosen to dissociate from again demonstrates why Aloha State legislators need to pass a Right to Work law, so union membership and financial support are strictly voluntary.”
Las Vegas Worker Files Emergency NLRB Appeal After Regional Official Blocks Decertification Petition
Region 28 Director blatantly ignored “blocking charge” rules to dismiss worker’s petition to remove IUOE and IUPAT bosses from his workplace
Washington, DC (April 5, 2021) – Thomas Stallings, a maintenance worker at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, filed an Emergency Request for Expedited Review with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington DC, with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
The request seeks to overturn the decision by the Regional Director of NLRB Region 28 to dismiss Stallings’ petition for a vote whether to decertify International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) and International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) officials who jointly have monopoly bargaining power over his maintenance unit. A large majority of Stallings’ coworkers signed the petition.
The Regional Director dismissed the petition because of “blocking charges,” unfair labor practice (ULP) charges filed by union lawyers. However, as Stallings’ request points out, all but one of the charges the Region used to dismiss the petition “relate to other unions besides the IUOE or IUPAT unions involved in this case, and to other bargaining units having nothing to do with the 19-person maintenance unit involved in this case.”
None of the charges even relate to the election itself, yet the Regional Director agreed with union lawyers that the mere existence of the charges―even if they turn out to be meritless― must deny Stallings and his coworkers the right to a decertification vote. The NLRB changed its rules in 2020 to curb union officials’ use of spurious “blocking charges” to delay decertification votes, and Stallings’ request for review argues that Region 28’s dismissal of his decertification petition ignored those rules changes.
Indeed, Stallings’ request argues, the Region is acting as though the old rules are still in place, and “did not even deign to cite the current Election Rules in its dismissal order, let alone apply them.” This is not the first time an NLRB Regional Director has ignored the new election rules to prevent workers from freeing themselves from unwanted union control.
In November, 2020, after all votes whether to remove the IUOE from Detroit-based Reith-Riley Construction Company had been cast, and hours before they were scheduled to be counted, NLRB Region 7 dismissed the workers’ decertification petition. In that case too, the Region cited “blocking charges” that had been filed by union lawyers as justification for stopping the election.
In both the Reith-Riley and Palms Casino cases, NLRB Regional officials ignored NLRB blocking charge reforms. The purpose of the reforms, which heavily cited comments National Right to Work Foundation attorneys submitted to the NLRB, is to stop union officials from imposing themselves on dissatisfied workers for months or even years while often-unrelated union allegations against employers are litigated.
The NLRB’s final rule specifically requires that votes be tallied and results announced unless the charges allege that the employer has improperly aided the decertification petition, and even then the votes will be counted unless a complaint against the employer has been issued within sixty days of the filing of the charges.
Stallings’ request notes that “even under the old election rules, a Region is not permitted to dismiss a decertification petition…based on ULP charges that are unrelated to any claim of employer taint in the election.” The Region cannot simply decide unilaterally that there is a connection between the employer’s misbehavior alleged in a blocking charge and the employees’ dissatisfaction with a union.
The request asks the NLRB to reverse the Regional Director’s decision and allow Stallings and his coworkers to have a vote to decide whether they will continue to be represented by IUOE and IUPAT officials.
“NLRB Region 28 is simply ignoring the existing rules to prevent independent-minded employees from choosing to remove a union they want nothing to do with,” commented National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “The Region is using charges that have nothing to do with Mr. Stallings and his coworkers’ petition as a pretense for insulating union bosses from a vote by those they claim to represent.”
“The NLRB in Washington should immediately reverse this blatant violation of the rules, and give Mr. Stallings and his coworkers the vote they deserve.”
Federal Judge Rejects AFL-CIO Lawsuit to Overturn Rule Eliminating “Strawman” Process for Workers Seeking to Remove Airline or Railroad Unions
Burdensome “strawman” process made workers create fake union in order to have National Mediation Board schedule vote to remove incumbent union
Washington, DC (April 2, 2021) – The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia this week issued a decision rejecting a lawsuit by AFL-CIO union lawyers to overturn a National Mediation Board (NMB) rule change, which allows workers in the airline and railroad industries to petition directly for elections to remove unwanted union “representation.” The rule, which was finalized by the NMB in 2019, replaced a confusing and needlessly complex NMB process in which workers had to create and solicit support for a fake “straw man” union just to vote out the incumbent union officials.
In March 2020, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys filed a legal brief on behalf of Allegiant Airlines flight attendant Steven Stoecker defending the rule change from the AFL-CIO’s lawsuit. The brief was also filed for the Foundation itself, which has provided free legal representation to numerous workers under the jurisdiction of the Railway Labor Act (RLA), which the NMB is charged with enforcing.
Stoecker, whose employment is governed by the RLA, attempted from 2014 to 2016 to remove the Transport Workers Union (TWU) from its monopoly bargaining status in his workplace, but those attempts ultimately failed when he lost his “straw man” election.
“The National Mediation Board’s Final Rule simplifies the union selection or rejection process under the Railway Labor Act and erases nonstatutory barriers that hinder employees’ efforts to freely choose or reject a representative,” read Stoecker’s brief. “In response, the Plaintiffs, a group of labor unions that benefit from the complexities of the straw man decertification process, challenge the Final Rule and the Board’s statutory authority to establish it.”
Before the NMB issued the final rule in 2019, workers like Stoecker had to sign authorization cards designating an employee to be the “strawman” even though that employee had no intention of representing the unit. In the election that followed, the ballot options included the name of the union workers wished to decertify, the name of the straw man applicant, e.g., “John Smith,” the option for a write-in candidate and, confusingly, the option for “no union.”
Under the old guidelines, workers who voted for either the straw man or “no union” in hopes to oust union officials would unknowingly be splitting the vote opposed to unionization, as votes counted for these options were not tallied together but separately. The NMB’s new rule allows workers to vote out union representatives directly, without the cumbersome procedural hurdles.
The District Court’s ruling rejects a union argument that the RLA forbids workers from directly petitioning for a decertification vote, pointing out that the RLA “does not require employees or their representative to pretend to seek certification in order to vindicate their statutorily protected right of complete independence in the workplace,” and also that the Supreme Court “held long ago that workers covered by the Act have ‘the right to determine…whether they shall have’” a union in the workplace at all.
“The District Court was correct in striking down this union boss lawsuit, which blatantly sought to reimpose a convoluted process by which union chiefs could remain in power in a workplace even when there was clear evidence a majority of workers wanted them gone,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “However, more needs to be done to ensure the freedom of America’s railroad and airline workers.”
“For example, currently the RLA prevents workers from being protected by state Right to Work laws, which ensure union financial support is strictly voluntary,” added Mix. “That’s why, ultimately, a National Right to Work law is needed to protect railway and airline employees from being forced to pay a union boss or else be fired.”
NLRB Regional Director has certified that Teamsters bosses lost decertification election
Santa Maria, CA (April 1, 2021) – With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, delivery drivers at Allied Central Coast Distributing in Santa Maria, California, have successfully freed themselves from unwanted monopoly “representation” by union officials of Teamsters Local 986.
Petitioner Julian Marroquin submitted a decertification petition with the signatures of many of his coworkers to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requesting an NLRB-supervised secret ballot election so the drivers could vote out the unpopular Teamsters union. Due to COVID-19, the vote was conducted by mail. On March 23, 2021, the NLRB reported that Marroquin’s unit had voted successfully to decertify the Teamsters union as their monopoly bargaining representative.
With no union challenges to the result, the Board certified the results of the election on March 31. Thus, the drivers are no longer subject to monopoly union representation. Because California lacks a Right to Work law to ensure union membership and financial support is strictly voluntary, the result protects the drivers from being forced by union officials to pay dues or fees or lose their jobs.
Marroquin was able to secure a decertification vote just months after he originally filed his petition in December 2020. It often takes far longer for workers to remove an unwanted union. Union officials frequently attempt to delay or block decertification votes by filing “blocking charges.” These are unfair labor practice charges against the employer that can be used to hold up an election, even when they have nothing to do with the employees’ dissatisfaction with the union.
Union officials’ ability to use this tactic to block or delay votes has been limited by recent NLRB rulemaking, finalized in 2020. Under the NLRB’s new policy, which draws on comments filed by the National Right to Work Foundation, union charges cannot indefinitely stall employee votes, and in most instances votes occur without delay.
“Blocking charge reforms have greatly reduced union bosses’ ability to force workers into years long legal battles just to be free themselves form Big Labor coercion,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “Workers who object to union dues payments shouldn’t need to fight an uphill battle to decertify a union just to cut off union financial support. That’s why every worker in America needs Right to Work protections that make union dues payments strictly voluntary.”
Educators submitted amicus brief in similar case before SCOTUS challenging “escape period” which curtails right to refrain from dues
Chicago, IL (March 25, 2021) – Two Chicago Public Schools (CPS) educators are appealing to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals their class-action civil rights lawsuit charging the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) with illegal dues seizures.
The suit challenges a union policy that blocks teachers from exercising their First Amendment right to stop payments to the union outside of the month of August.
The lawsuit seeks refunds of all dues seized from dissenting teachers by the Chicago Board of Education under the policy. The Board enforces the arrangement at the behest of the CTU union and is also named as a defendant.
The educators, Jones College Prep Tech Coordinator Joanne Troesch and Newberry Math and Science Academy second-grade teacher Ifeoma Nkemdi, are receiving free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys. The lawsuit contends that the dues scheme perpetrated by CTU officials violates the First Amendment protections laid out in the Foundation-won 2018 Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court decision.
The appeal comes shortly after Troesch, Nkemdi, and other public employees submitted an amicus brief in Belgau v. Inslee, which is currently pending on a petition for certiorari at the U.S. Supreme Court. That class-action suit involves a group of Washington State employees, led by Melissa Belgau, who are fighting similar policies imposed by Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) union officials and the State of Washington.
In Janus, which was argued by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney William Messenger, the High Court struck down mandatory union fees as a violation of the First Amendment rights of government employees. The Court ruled that taking any dues without a government worker’s affirmative consent violates the First Amendment, and further made it clear that these rights cannot be restricted absent a clear and knowing waiver. Messenger is on Troesch and Nkemdi’s legal team.
Troesch and Nkemdi’s lawsuit explains that they “did not know they had a constitutional right not to financially support” the union hierarchy until the fall of 2019. The pair independently discovered their First Amendment Janus rights while they were researching how to exercise their right to continue working during a strike that CTU bosses ordered in October 2019, the lawsuit notes. They sent letters the same month to CTU officials to exercise their Janus right to resign union membership and cut off all dues deductions.
Both educators received no response until November of that year, when CTU officials confirmed receipt of the letters but said that they would continue to seize dues from the teachers’ paychecks “until September 1, 2020.” CTU bosses relied on the fact that Troesch and Nkemdi had not submitted their letters within a union boss-created “escape period,” which limits when teachers can exercise their First Amendment right to end dues deductions.
Troesch and Nkemdi contend that CTU officials’ attempt to curb employees’ right to stop dues deductions with an “escape period” and the Board’s continued dues seizures both violate the First Amendment. Their lawsuit seeks to make the CTU union and the Board of Education stop enforcing the “escape period,” and notify all bargaining unit employees that they can end the deduction of union dues at any time and “retroactively exercise that right.”
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed Troesch and Nkemdi’s lawsuit on February 25, 2021. The court ruled that CTU officials didn’t violate Janus by forbidding the two educators from exercising their First Amendment right to cut off union dues except for one month a year. This prompted Foundation attorneys to appeal the case to the Seventh Circuit for the educators.
Foundation staff attorneys in December 2020 filed a similar lawsuit for University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System employee Johnathan Shepard, who is challenging an “escape period” foisted on him and his coworkers by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73 bosses. Across the country, Foundation staff attorneys represent public servants in at least 14 cases where union officials have tried to confine their First Amendment Janus rights to an “escape period.”
“Each day that the courts refuse to uphold the clear logic of Janus is another day that union bosses are allowed to hold onto the hard-earned money of dissenting public servants in clear violation of their First Amendment rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “The Foundation is proud to stand with Ms. Troesch and Ms. Nkemdi, and will continue to defend all educators who simply want to serve their students and community without being forced to subsidize union activities.”
Delaware Mountaire Farms Worker Leading Effort to Oust Unpopular Union Bosses Objects to Deficient Settlement Regarding Illegal Dues
Settlement denies relief to most employees, another example of decreased scrutiny on union bosses’ violations since Biden installed NLRB Acting GC Peter Ohr
Washington, DC (March 24, 2021) – Selbyville, DE-based Mountaire Farms employee Oscar Cruz Sosa has objected to a settlement proposed by National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 5 officials in his case charging United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27 union bosses with imposing an illegal dues provision on him and his coworkers.
With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys, Cruz Sosa’s objections argue that the settlement proffered by NLRB Region 5 “provides inadequate remedies to the unit employees,” on all of whom UFCW officials enforced a contract clause which unlawfully requires all workers to pay dues immediately upon hiring or be fired.
Federal law stipulates that new hires be given 30 days before any mandatory dues requirements are imposed on them. Because Delaware lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector employees, Cruz Sosa and his colleagues can be required to pay some reduced union fees as a condition of keeping their jobs after the 30-day period.
NLRB Region 5 proposed the settlement while NLRB Acting General Counsel Peter Ohr has directly or indirectly sought to curtail several other Foundation cases for independent-minded workers seeking to free themselves from illegal forced dues or other coercive union boss practices. Many of Ohr’s actions attempt to reverse work that had been done by his predecessor, Senate-confirmed General Counsel Peter Robb, to defend workers’ individual rights.
Just last week, Foundation attorneys opposed Ohr’s move to return West Virginia Kroger employee Shelby Krocker’s case, which is fully briefed before the NLRB in D.C., to NLRB Region 6 in Pittsburgh, where an insufficient settlement would be foisted on her and her coworkers. Krocker is challenging dues checkoff cards distributed by UFCW bosses which falsely claim that they “MUST BE SIGNED,” violating federal law’s requirement that authorizations of direct dues deductions from workers’ paychecks must be strictly voluntary. Robb had sustained Krocker’s charges after NLRB Region 6 initially dismissed them.
In the Mountaire Farms situation, Ohr in February withdrew a Robb-filed brief defending Cruz Sosa and his coworkers’ right to vote UFCW Local 27 bosses out of their workplace. UFCW lawyers claim that a non-statutory NLRB policy called the “contract bar” should have blocked Cruz Sosa’s otherwise valid petition signed by his colleagues requesting a “decertification election.” The “contract bar” entrenches unions for up to three years after management and union officials broker a contract.
Although NLRB Region 5 ruled that the vote should proceed because of the contract’s invalid forced dues clause, UFCW lawyers demanded review by the full NLRB, and now seek to have the NLRB destroy the ballots workers have already cast in the election. The NLRB decided to review the case, but announced that the entire “contract bar” policy would be brought under scrutiny. This case is still pending before the full NLRB.
Cruz Sosa’s current filing contends that NLRB Region 5’s proposed settlement on the issue of the illegal dues clause “seeks to ferret out for relief what is likely to be a minuscule handful of employees” instead of giving all employees under UFCW Local 27’s control at Mountaire “the right to claim their dues money back to the start of” the contract and ensuring the clause is never enforced again. This is requested because, based on NLRB Region 5’s own ruling, the forced dues clause is “facially invalid” and “all employees have been adversely impacted” by it.
Cruz Sosa’s attorneys also argue that the settlement, which would be conditional on the NLRB’s finding in the pending decertification case that the UFCW’s forced dues clause is invalid, forecloses the possibility of the relief requested for all employees even if the Board affirms the Region’s ruling that the clause is invalid. “This one-way ratchet is patently unfair to the 800 employees in this unit and completely one-sided,” Foundation attorneys assert.
This dispute highlights the NLRB General Counsel’s Office and Regional Directors’ shift to reinforcing the coercive privileges of union bosses since President Biden installed Peter Ohr as NLRB Acting General Counsel. Ohr was put in after Biden took the unprecedented and legally dubious step of firing Robb, Ohr’s predecessor, nearly eleven months before the end of his Senate-confirmed term.
“This is an obvious attempt by so-called ‘Acting’ NLRB General Counsel Peter Ohr to ensure President Biden’s union boss cronies don’t have to face the music when they violate workers’ individual rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Cruz Sosa and his coworkers were all harmed by this plainly unlawful dues clause, and a proper remedy must include relief for all of them.”
“NLRB Region 5’s hasty proposed settlement – deliberately crafted before the full NLRB has ruled on UFCW bosses’ illegal conduct in Cruz Sosa’s workplace, must be rejected,” Mix added.
Unpopular Teamsters union officials forced unnecessary hearing to delay decertification election before losing by 8-1 margin
Cinnaminson, NJ (March 23, 2021) – Workers at a branch of XPO Logistics in Cinnaminson, New Jersey who were subject to the monopoly union control of Teamsters Local 107 voted overwhelmingly to throw the union out of their workplace by a 16-2 vote.
Miguel Valle and his coworkers petitioned the National Labor relations Board on December 28th, 2020 for a vote to decertify and remove the Teamsters union as the bargaining agent at XPO. The XPO employees received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which helped to guide them through the roadblocks union officials tried to create to maintain their control over the workplace.
When decertification is looming, union lawyers often employ a variety of stalling tactics to delay elections. Recent NLRB rulemaking limited the use of “blocking charges,” which are often spurious unfair labor practice charges filed by union lawyers designed to hold up decertification elections while the charges are being resolved. The rule changes closely mirror suggestions made by the Foundation in comments during rulemaking.
Thanks to the “blocking charge” reforms, Teamsters bosses couldn’t create the kind of multi-year delay often seen under the old rules, but union lawyers still found ways to delay the vote Valle and his XPO coworkers had requested, by demanding that the vote would be held in person at the Teamsters union hall. Previously the NLRB’s Regional Office in Philadelphia had decided that because of Board voting parameters for COVID-19, the election should be conducted by mail.
Nevertheless, Teamsters lawyers demanded a hearing on the method of voting. Foundation attorneys argued that the union lawyers’ requests were merely an effort to delay the vote. As expected, the NLRB’s Regional Director reaffirmed that the election would be conducted by mail. On February 18th, 2021, ballots were sent to the employees in Valle’s bargaining unit, nearly two months after he had filed his petition.
When the votes were finally tallied, the workers had voted 16-2 in favor of removing the union from their workplace. With no union challenges to the result, Valle’s coworkers are no longer subject to monopoly representation by Teamsters officials.
“Union bosses take every chance they get to maintain control over workers, even when they are overwhelmingly opposed by those they claim to represent,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “Thanks to Big Labor’s government-granted monopoly bargaining powers, people like Miguel Valle and his coworkers have to turn to the Foundation for free legal assistance just to exercise their right to hold a vote to remove a union they overwhelmingly oppose.”