Oxnard, Calif. (June 28, 2001) — 150 berry pickers who were illegally fired by the Coastal Berry Company at the demand of United Farm Worker (UFW) union officials filed state unfair labor practice charges today against the union and their former employer. The workers were fired for exercising their right not to subsidize union political activities.
With the assistance of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, Francisco Alzazar, Bertha Ambriz, Bertha Andrade, Ella Carranza, Alma Rose Arredondo, and Manuel Mena filed the class-action charges against the UFW and the Coastal Berry Company with California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB). Coastal Berry, which employs approximately 750 workers, is the world’s largest strawberry producer.
“In a cold-hearted act of retribution, UFW union officials and Coastal Berry put 150 workers out on the street,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason.
In May 2000, by order of the ALRB, UFW union officials were granted monopoly bargaining power at Coastal Berry. In March 2001, Coastal Berry entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the UFW union. Shortly thereafter, UFW officials demanded that all Coastal Berry workers join the union and sign payroll deduction cards that would have allowed union officials to seize dues from their paychecks. More than 150 workers refused to comply with the UFW union’s illegal ultimatum and were fired last March at the demand of union officials.
The charges state that UFW union officials violated the rights of employees by demanding that they become full union members and pay full union dues as a condition of employment, in violation of several Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decisions, including CWA v. Beck. UFW union officials also violated the rights of employees by failing to provide workers with an independent audit of union expenditures as required by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson.
Foundation attorneys are seeking to force Coastal Berry to rehire all the fired berry pickers, with back pay, and to force UFW union officials to post notices informing all Coastal Berry workers of their right to object to belonging to the union.
California State Senator Tom McClintock (R-19th District), whose legislative district includes Oxnard, also weighed in on behalf of the workers. “The National Right to Work Foundation should be commended for representing the hard-working Californians that have been denied their jobs due to politics. Ironically, the UFW claims to be for workers, yet it turned more than 150 workers away from the fields where they have labored for years.”
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (June 27, 2001) — A dozen hospital employees at Youngstown’s St. Elizabeth Health Center today filed federal charges against officials of the Teamsters Local 377 union for refusing to accept their resignations and for failing to properly notify them of their right to pay less than full union dues.
The employees filed the unfair labor practice charges with the assistance of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys on behalf of all bargaining unit employees with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
“Teamsters officers are shaking down these employees simply because they exercised their right not to support the union,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal aid to victims of compulsory unionism abuse.
Officials of the Youngstown-based union refused to accept employees’ written resignations from union membership and told employees that they must pay all “back dues” before the union would even consider their resignations. The charges also state that Local Teamsters union officials used payroll deductions to collect alleged “preexisting debt arrearages” that the union could not lawfully obligate the workers to pay under its forced unionism clause.
Under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision, workers may resign from union membership at any time and pay only for the union’s proven collective bargaining costs.
Foundation attorneys are demanding that all illegally seized forced union dues be returned to the employees and that Teamsters Local 377 officials notify all St. Elizabeth employees of their rights.
New York, N.Y. (June 25, 2001) — Former “Brady Bunch” star Barry Williams today filed federal unfair labor practice charges against Actors Equity Association (AEA) union officials for illegally fining him $52,000 after he resigned from the union to star in a non-Equity production of “The Sound of Music.”
Williams, with the assistance of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in New York because AEA union officials failed to inform him of his right to not join the union and imposed an exorbitant fine.
Last year, union officials launched a nationwide media campaign to smear Williams in each city in which the production appeared. As part of that campaign, union militants picketed outside theaters during the musical, carrying signs and handing out fliers proclaiming “Greg Brady is a Scab” while chanting slogans such as “who let the scabs out.”
“In an attempt to make actors think twice about exercising their rights, AEA union bullies are making an example of Barry Williams,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Foundation.
AEA union officials illegally enforced so-called union “discipline” against Williams, claiming that he violated AEA union bylaws by appearing in a production that had not agreed to force employees to work under union contract.
Williams cannot be lawfully fined because he resigned his AEA union membership (and thereby was no longer subject to union rules) before signing a contract to work on the production — his right under the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Patternmakers v. NLRB. In Patternmakers, the High Court ruled workers may resign their full, formal union membership immediately and without restrictions or retaliation. Once an employee becomes a non-member, union officials have no legal basis for enforcing union “discipline.”
Foundation attorneys are seeking an order that the fine is unenforceable and that the union retract it.
Williams gained fame as Greg Brady, the oldest son on the 70’s television show “The Brady Bunch.” Subsequently he has starred in more than 50 stage productions including “Victor Victoria,” “The Music Man,” “Romance/Romance,” “Man of LaMancha,” “Guys and Dolls,” and “City of Angels.” He wrote the best-selling book “Growing Up Brady,” which he recently produced as a movie for NBC. Additionally, Williams headlines in various venues in Las Vegas, for corporations, and on cruise lines.
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (June 11, 2001) — With assistance from a national legal aid foundation, a Culligan Water Conditioning employee today filed federal charges against the Saint Louis-based Teamsters Local 610. The union’s officials have been illegally attempting to have the worker fired from his job for withholding union dues spent on politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys filed the unfair labor practice charges on behalf of Pete Lenhardt with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) charging that union officials illegally demanded that Culligan discharge Lenhardt for not paying full union dues, even though he became a nonmember of the union.
The union’s threats and demands violated the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision, which holds that workers may resign from union membership and pay only for the union’s proven collective bargaining costs.
“Teamsters union officials must be held to account for bullying employees who do not support the union,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a charitable organization that provides free legal aid to victims of forced unionism abuse.
Before ordering his termination, Teamsters Local 610 officials had been unlawfully seizing full union dues from Lenhardt and other Culligan employees and demanding so-called “initiation fees” equal to the full amount paid by union members without notifying employees of their right to object to union membership and the payment of full dues.
In response to the Foundation-filed charge, Culligan notified Lenhardt that they would not dismiss him while his charge was before the NLRB. Foundation attorneys are also demanding that the union notify all bargaining unit employees of their rights.
Washington, D.C. (June 5, 2001) — Ironically complaining that President George W. Bush’s executive order imposes “substantial administrative burdens” on businesses, three unions and a federally funded union-established corporation filed suit against the Bush Administration. The suit seeks to prevent unionized employees of federal contractors from learning about their rights to be nonmembers and reclaim their forced union dues spent for politics.
The suit is likely to raise many eyebrows, as the same unions that have long claimed to be defenders of workplace rights are now suing to prevent employees from learning about workplace rights.
Executive Order 13201 simply requires federal contractors to post a standard workplace notice informing employees of their rights under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Communications Workers v. Beck, a case won by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys in 1988 establishing that employees cannot be compelled to formally join a union or pay dues spent for politics or any other activities unrelated to collective bargaining. Because of unions’ routine and systematic non-compliance with the law, a vast majority of unionized employees still do not know they have these rights, polls show.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union, along with the UAW-Labor Employment and Training Corporation and two affiliates of the Office and Professional Employees International Union, quietly filed the suit last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and several other high-ranking Administration officials.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys are preparing to intervene in defense of the executive order on behalf of workers who have been lied to about their rights or outright threatened by union officials (including UAW officials) when they tried to reclaim their forced dues spent on electioneering and the like.
“Afraid that they would face a grassroots revolt, union bosses don’t want working Americans to find out that they can stop funding Big Labor’s massive political machine,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “This multi-union lawsuit demonstrates the total hypocrisy of union officials’ claims that they are genuinely concerned about employee rights.”
Signed on February 17, 2001, the executive order affects a small segment of the 12 million American employees compelled to pay union dues as a condition of employment, as it only requires companies with federal contracts to inform workers of their Beck rights by posting workplace notices. Bush’s father issued a similar executive order in April of 1992 that was immediately revoked at the request of union officials as President Clinton took office in 1993. Additionally, the Clinton National Labor Relations Board stonewalled the enforcement of these precious employee protections, often leaving many cases languishing within the bureaucracy for six or more years.
Brainerd, Minn. (May 31, 2001) — In a 66 to 28 vote, employees at Bang Printing stripped the Graphic Communications International Union Upper Midwest Local 1-M of the power to get employees fired for refusing to financially support the union as non-members.
Carole Kraklau and other employees received free legal advice from attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requesting that the deauthorization election be conducted. The results of that vote were announced today.
The decisive vote ends the union’s power to force workers to pay union dues, much of which is spent for politics, lobbying, social activities, and other activities claimed to be related to “representing” the employees. Employees who refused to pay the dues were threatened with discharge.
“This landslide victory shows that when employees are given the opportunity to decide how much power union officials have over them, they choose freedom,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
By deauthorizing the union in the NLRB election, employees are now free to decide for themselves whether to join or financially support the union. The union is now forced to justify to individual employees why it deserves the support of the rank-and-file workers.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 30, 2001) — The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced that approximately 71,000 communications workers are today being offered an opportunity to reclaim approximately $70 million in forced union dues illegally seized over nine years by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union for politics.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia forced CWA union officials to mail the rebate notice pursuant to the 1998 Foundation-won Abrams v. CWA ruling. In Abrams, the court found that union officials broke the law by failing to give workers lawful notice of their right to object to payment of full union dues, including dues spent for partisan political activities.
In the Foundation’s landmark case CWA v. Beck (1988), the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that no worker could be lawfully forced to become a formal, full-dues-paying union member and pay for any activities unrelated to collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment.
“CWA union officials should never have taken this money in the first place,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “Now they must return millions of dollars.”
The union must allow workers 30 days to retroactively request refunds, plus interest, for all dues between 1987 and 1995 that were used for purposes, such as politics, other than collective bargaining. Workers who think they might be eligible for the refund should contact the Foundation at 1-888-789-4255.
The CWA union’s disclosure over those years admitted that around 25 percent of full dues were not used for collective bargaining. This portion amounts to – on average – about $100 per worker, per year, before interest. Thus, many of the affected workers may be eligible for rebates up to as much as $900 for the full nine years. The court also ordered union officials to pay some 120,000 workers more than $500,000 in damages.
Kenneth Abrams and three other workers at Bell Systems-affiliated companies from Maryland and New Jersey originally filed the suit in 1987 in opposition to the union’s financing of its political agenda.
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (May 17, 2001) — The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today overturned the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) precedent-setting mandate that employees fund union organizing drives nationwide with their forced union dues.
Attorneys with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation convinced the unanimous appellate court panel to overturn the NLRB’s decision in Meijer (which the Board issued after more than 10 years of inexplicable delay) on the basis that it violated U.S. Supreme Court precedent and thereby would have forced the 7.8 million American employees who work in compulsory union shops to pay union organizing expenses or lose their jobs.
Organizing expenses often exceed 20 percent of a union’s budget.
“The notoriously biased NLRB has again been caught red-handed fabricating its own vision for labor relations favoring union officials even when it violates clear Supreme Court precedent,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an organization that provides free legal aid to victims of forced unionism abuse.
The ruling comes one day after President George W. Bush promoted Board member Peter Hurtgen to NLRB Chairman – even though he signed the NLRB’s anti-employee Meijer ruling.
The unanimous three-judge panel on Ninth Circuit agreed that the NLRB’s decision directly violates the previous rulings of the Supreme Court. Under the Court’s 1988 ruling in Communications Workers v. Beck, a case brought by Foundation attorneys, employees may not be forced to pay for union political activities and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining, contract negotiation, or grievance adjustment. In the Foundation-won precedents Ellis v. Railway Clerks and Lehnert v. Ferris Faculty Association, the High Court determined that union organizing expenses were clearly unrelated to collective bargaining, and thus employees who are not members of the union could not be forced to financially support this type of advocacy activity.
In Meijer, the Board attempted to whitewash the abuse of three grocery store employees Phillip Mulder, Charles Buck, and Leon Gibbons, who originally filed the case (with the help of Foundation attorneys) against the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union in Michigan.
The National Labor Relations Board, especially under President Clinton, has a long history of ruling against employees who chose not to join or support unions. Previous appellate court rulings in this area of law have chastised the Board for its “administrative arrogance” and labeled its decisions “not rational.”
Largo, Maryland (May 17, 2001) — Denise Mack has filed a federal unfair labor practice charge against local union officials for demanding that she be fired for refusing to give in to their illegal demands for more than $1,000 in forced union dues.
Last month, Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), Local 2 officials ordered Mack to pay what they called “back dues” for a two-year period in which she worked at a Kaiser Permanente Medical Group office in Virginia. But under Virginia’s Right to Work law, there was no requirement that Mack, who was not a member of the union, pay any union dues during that period.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys filed the charges on behalf of Mack, now employed at Kaiser Permanente’s Largo, Maryland, office, with the National Labor Relations Board against the OPEIU Local 2.
“This is a flagrant attempt by union officials to swindle Mack and skirt Virginia’s highly popular Right to Work law,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “It’s also obviously designed to send a message to Kaiser Permanente employees in Virginia – ‘pay up now, or we’ll get the money from you when you’re transferred to Maryland.'”
The OPEIU Local 2 union has “exclusive representation” power over Kaiser Permanente’s Virginia and Maryland employees. Last December, Mack was transferred to Maryland where union officials began demanding forced union dues from her paycheck. Maryland is not a Right to Work state. On April 18, an OPEIU Local 2 union official sent Mack a letter demanding that she pay a total of $1,153.04 in reinstatement fees and “back union dues” from February 1998 – February 2000, a time period in which she worked in Virginia, or be fired.
Foundation attorneys are seeking an immediate injunction to stop OPEIU Local 2 union officials from seizing any dues or from having Mack fired. They are also seeking to force the union to return any forced dues seized as a result of their illegal threats and to have union officials held in contempt for violating an earlier NLRB judgment against them.
ALGOMA, Wis. (May 14, 2001) — Nine Olsonite Corporation employees today filed federal charges against the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners union Local 1521 for refusing to honor their written objections to financially supporting the union.
The charges, filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) state that Local 1521 officials illegally seized full union dues from the objecting nonmembers and arbitrarily rejected their objection letters because of a technicality.
“These independent-minded employees don’t want their hard-earned dollars going into the union’s militant political and organizing campaigns,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a charitable organization that is providing free legal aid to the employees.
Olsonite, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of toilet seats, signed a collective bargaining agreement with the union requiring all employees to pay the union a so-called agency fee – even when the employees have no desire to associate with the union.
But under numerous federal statutes and U.S. Supreme Court precedents, including the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck decision, union officials cannot compel workers to become formal union members or pay full dues. Under Beck, objecting nonmembers may halt and reclaim all forced union dues used for activities unrelated to collective bargaining, such as political action.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys are demanding that the NLRB enforce the Beck decision by striking down the Carpenters union’s unlawful practices of seizing political money from nonmembers and refusing their objections.