31 Mar 2020

Foundation Victories Stop Illegal Forced Union Dues for Public Employees

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2020 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Settlements end Big Labor restrictions on workers exercising Janus rights in New Mexico, Ohio

Shopping for a refund:  Ohio school bus driver Donna Fizer won a refund of illegally seized dues after fighting schemes meant to block public employees from exercising their rights under the Foundation-won Janus decision.

CINCINNATI, OH – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys continue to win settlements for workers who have been trapped by arbitrary union-created “escape periods” or “window periods,” which violate workers’ rights by preventing them from stopping dues deductions.

In the 2018 Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that requiring public sector employees to pay union bosses is unconstitutional. Yet, union bosses continue to tell workers they can only stop dues deductions during limited periods. After Foundation-backed lawsuits, however, they often choose to settle with workers rather than face Foundation staff attorneys in court.

In November, Ohio bus driver Donna Fizer won a settlement against Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE). With Foundation legal aid, Fizer sued OAPSE for continuing to take money from her paycheck after she resigned her union membership, which violates the Janus ruling’s protection of her First Amendment rights.

Workers Win Battles Coast to Coast Stopping Unconstitutional Dues

Fizer’s victory came when Foundation staff attorneys filed a federal lawsuit for her, contending the dues seizures OAPSE made from her paycheck after she resigned her union membership infringed her rights under Janus.

OAPSE bosses had told Fizer that she couldn’t leave the union except during a union-created “escape period” and continued to take a portion of her paycheck. As a result of the settlement, union bosses refunded her the money they seized under the illegal policy.

After the 2018 Janus ruling, Fizer notified school board officials she was “immediately withdrawing [her union] membership” and exercising her First Amendment Janus right to cut off union dues deductions.

The school district treasurer quickly complied and stopped the deductions from her paycheck, but OAPSE bosses responded by filing a grievance which alleged that Fizer could not revoke except within a tiny, union-created “escape period” that occurs only 10 days every few years. They demanded that the school district continue to illegally take money from Fizer.

Faced with a federal lawsuit union officials quickly settled the case, vindicating her rights. As part of the settlement, OAPSE bosses returned to Fizer all the dues they took from her paycheck since the date of her membership revocation, and further notified the district to cease any further deduction of union dues from her paycheck.

In October, Foundation attorneys won a settlement for New Mexico information technology worker David McCutcheon and 67 of his coworkers, who collectively received over $15,000 in refunds of dues seized by Communications Workers of America (CWA) bosses in violation of their Janus rights.

Foundation Wins Class Action Janus Lawsuit in New Mexico

McCutcheon works as an IT technician at New Mexico’s Department of Information Technology and was forced to pay union dues as a member before the 2018 Janus decision. After the Foundation-won victory, McCutcheon attempted to end the dues payments only to be told he could only do so during a brief two-week period in December, a violation of his rights under Janus.

Again, instead of fighting the lawsuit in court, CWA officials opted to settle the case. As part of the settlement agreement, CWA officials removed the union-created “escape period.” The union also paid back fully, plus interest, all dues taken from McCutcheon and others who had attempted to exercise their First Amendment rights under Janus but were blocked from doing so because of the “escape period” restrictions.

“Local 7076 and CWA will not enter into any [union contract] with the State of New Mexico that restricts to a yearly window period the time when a bargaining unit member may revoke a previously authorized dues deduction authorization,” the settlement reads.

“Union officials have no legal right to hold workers hostage in forced-dues ranks because of brief, arbitrary union-created window periods,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Ray LaJeunesse. “It’s telling that these union bosses are settling in court rather than continuing to litigate these cases. It shows that the law, because of the Janus ruling, favors workers, not the interests of union bosses who want to trap them.”

Since the Janus decision in 2018, Foundation attorneys have litigated more than 30 cases seeking to enforce and expand the Janus victory, with others being filed all the time.

24 Mar 2020

Paramedic Files Appeal after NLRB Disregards Illegal Union Retaliation

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2020 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Appeal to NLRB General Counsel comes just months after Region 14 was reversed in similar case

Jarod Aubuchon

Paramedic Jarod Aubuchon is appealing his case against Teamsters officials after they punished him for informing his coworkers of their rights to resign union membership and pay reduced dues.

St. LOUIS, MO – Jarod Aubuchon, a St. Louis-area paramedic who charged Teamsters Local 610 union officials with illegal retaliation after he tried to inform his coworkers of their right to pay reduced union dues, is filing an appeal in his case to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel in Washington, D.C. He is represented free of charge by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.

Aubuchon’s appeal comes after the October 2019 dismissal of his case by NLRB Region 14 officials in St. Louis. Region 14 was reversed by the NLRB General Counsel in a similar union retaliation case this summer, which was also brought by Foundation staff attorneys.

Union Officials Vow Punishments after Worker Posted Rights Notices

Aubuchon discovered the right of private sector workers under the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision to resign union membership and pay a reduced portion of union dues. Because Missouri is not a Right to Work state, private sector workers can still be compelled to pay part of union dues as a condition of employment.

Beck, won by Foundation staff attorneys in 1988, guarantees that employees who are not union members can only be required to pay fees to a union for expenses that are directly germane to bargaining, such as contract administration. 

Armed with this new knowledge, Aubuchon posted flyers in common areas of his workplace informing his coworkers of their Beck rights. According to his charge, Teamsters agents responded by tearing down these notices and later demanding that his employer, Medic One, discipline him for the postings. Actions by union officials that cause an employer to discriminate against workers on such grounds are prohibited by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Aubuchon resigned his own union membership and asserted his Beck rights. Aubuchon’s charge states that neither his resignation nor his Beck rights have been acknowledged by Teamsters bosses, and full dues are still being seized from his paychecks.

Employee Appeals to NLRB General Counsel with Free Foundation Legal Aid

After NLRB Region 14 officials rejected his case, Aubuchon petitioned the NLRB General Counsel to overturn the decision and order remedies for the retaliation he experienced from Teamsters officials.

“They spend union money on political activism without consideration of its members,” Aubuchon said of Teamsters officials to the St. Louis Record after his appeal was filed. “We have a right to not have our money used in that manner and in the end I hope employees are better educated on their rights and how to exercise them.”

In July 2019, the General Counsel reversed Region 14 officials’ dismissal of a similar case brought by Foundation staff attorneys for Kansas City-area hospital worker Kacy Warner. Warner charged officials of the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) union with illegally interfering with a petition she was circulating for a vote to remove the union. That included tearing down flyers she had hung in bathrooms and other common areas in her workplace informing employees of the petition. In her case the NLRB General Counsel reversed Region 14’s dismissal and ordered region officials to prosecute the charge.

Region 14 officials were also overturned by the full Labor Board in October 2019 after the Region dismissed a petition for a vote to remove the union from St. Elmo, Illinois-based ConAgra Foods worker Robert Gentry’s workplace. United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union bosses had attempted multiple times to stop workers at the plant from exercising the right to vote out the union.

“The NLRB is charged with enforcing workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act, yet there is a disturbing pattern of Region 14 failing to enforce the rights of rank-and-file workers when doing so advances the interests of union bosses,” commented National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens. “It should not take an appeal to Washington, D.C., for workers to have their rights fully protected against union boss abuses.”

7 Mar 2020

Sacramento Employee Hits Union with Charge for Ignoring Janus Rights

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2020 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

More than a year after Court decision, union bosses still tell workers forced fees are legal

Sacramento Employee Hits Union with Charge for Ignoring Janus Rights | In the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME decision, the Supreme Court recognized the right of all American public sector workers to refrain from subsidizing unions, but California IUOE bosses are acting as if those rights don’t exist.

In the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME decision, the Supreme Court recognized the right of all American public sector workers to refrain from subsidizing unions, but California IUOE bosses are acting as if those rights don’t exist.

SACRAMENTO, CA – Ethan Morris works for Sacramento County as a wastewater treatment employee. With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, he has hit the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Stationary Engineers union bosses at his workplace with charges that their misstatements of his requirement to pay union fees breach California law by disregarding workers’ First Amendment rights under the Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision.

California’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), the agency in charge of determining whether unions like IUOE have violated California’s public sector labor laws, will now investigate Morris’ charge.

California Union Bosses Blatantly Lie About Legality of Forced Dues

Morris has never been a member of IUOE Stationary Engineers. He recounts in his charge that he received a notice from an IUOE financial secretary in July 2019 which claimed that “employees who do not join the Union must pay a . . . fee” to the union as a condition of employment, and that these mandatory fees are “legal and enforceable in California” through direct deductions from non-member employees’ paychecks.

Morris’ charge says the union’s fee demands ignore government employees’ First Amendment rights under the 2018 Foundation-won Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision. In Janus, a majority of the Court recognized that union dues or fees cannot be mandatory for public employees and may only be deducted from government workers’ paychecks if they have given “affirmative and knowing” waivers of their First Amendment right not to subsidize a union.

Morris maintains that by ignoring Janus, IUOE Stationary Engineers bosses infringed his rights under California’s Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA). That statute provides Golden State workers “the right to refuse to join or participate in the activities of employee organizations” and prohibits unions from “coerc[ing] or discriminat[ing] against” employees for exercising that right.

IUOE Officials Broke California Labor Law by Defying Janus

Morris demands that union officials rectify the situation by stopping the illegal fee demands and posting a PERB-approved notice informing his coworkers of their right to refrain from union activities and acknowledging that compulsory fee demands violate that right.

“Ethan Morris discovered his First Amendment Janus rights independently, and in doing so was able to catch IUOE Stationary Engineers bosses in a red-handed lie about the right of public sector workers in America to abstain from financially supporting a union,” observed National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “For every worker who rebuffs illegal union threats, there are almost certainly thousands of workers who unknowingly sign away their rights.

“State governments must step up and proactively protect employees’ Janus rights, including making sure that every worker knows those rights and not deducting any union dues or fees absent a worker’s knowing and voluntary waiver of his or her rights,” Mix added.

Taking the lead on protecting public workers’ Janus rights is Alaska, where last September Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued an executive order requiring all state agencies to stop the deduction of union dues from any worker who had not submitted a form affirmatively waiving his or her right under Janus not to fund any union activities.

16 Feb 2020

West Virginia Supreme Court Hears Right to Work Case

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2020 edition. The West Virginia Supreme Court heard arguments in this case on January 15 and a decision is expected in the coming months. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Foundation continues to defend all Right to Work laws against Big Labor attack

Forced-dues-hungry union bosses have been waging a legal battle to overturn West Virginia’s Right to Work Law since it was enacted in 2016. Foundation staff attorneys have been fighting back by filing amicus briefs in court.

Forced-dues-hungry union bosses have been waging a legal battle to overturn West Virginia’s Right to Work Law since it was enacted in 2016. Foundation staff attorneys have been fighting back by filing amicus briefs in court.

CHARLESTON, WV – The West Virginia Supreme Court will hear arguments on January 15 in union bosses’ long-running case seeking to dismantle West Virginia’s Right to Work Law and restore their forced-dues powers over workers across the Mountain State. National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys have already filed multiple legal briefs in this case for West Virginia workers in defense of West Virginia’s Right to Work Law.

After Passage, Union Bosses Immediately Target West Virginia Right to Work Law

Last year, union lawyers relied on discredited legal arguments to convince Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Bailey to declare West Virginia’s entire Right to Work Law invalid. Union lawyers dubiously claim that West Virginia union bosses have a “right” to forced dues. Judge Bailey issued a similar ruling blocking the Right to Work law after the legislation was signed into law in 2016. The West Virginia Supreme Court overturned that decision, citing arguments made in briefs by Foundation staff attorneys. “Of course, union partisans never willingly accept the loss of forced dues,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “So now the issue is back at the state’s highest court.” If Big Labor’s lawsuit to overturn

West Virginia’s Right to Work Law succeeds, union bosses could have thousands of independent-minded workers across the state fired solely for refusing to subsidize union activities.

Foundation Files 10 Briefs to Protect Rights of West Virginia Workers

Foundation staff attorneys have filed 10 legal briefs in the multi-year case. The Foundation’s latest amicus brief was filed for West Virginia nursing home employee Donna Harper. Harper, like many other workers in West Virginia, chose not to pay dues or fees to union bosses, which is her legal right in a Right to Work state.

“Union bosses in West Virginia are intent on reclaiming their forced-dues power,” Mix said. “Big Labor is waging this protracted legal battle to return the Mountain State to a time when millions and millions of dollars in workers’ money were seized by union bosses to fill Big Labor’s coffers with forced dues.”

This case is the latest legal battle in the Foundation’s long history of effectively defending Right to Work laws in state and federal court from spurious attacks by Big Labor. Although federal law specifically authorizes states to pass Right to Work laws to protect workers from union boss coercion, union lawyers have repeatedly challenged these laws in an attempt to keep siphoning union dues and fees from workers’ paychecks.

Foundation Has Successfully Defended State Right to Work Laws Nationwide

In addition to West Virginia, Foundation staff attorneys have successfully pursued legal action in recent years to defend and enforce new Right to Work laws in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Kentucky, all of which have passed Right to Work protections for employees in just the last seven years. In Michigan alone, Foundation staff attorneys have assisted employees in over 100 cases since Right to Work went into effect in early 2013.

14 Feb 2020

Electrician Files Discrimination Lawsuit Challenging Forced Union Fees

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2020 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Boston College and SEIU officials ignored reasonable request to accommodate religious beliefs

Boston College officials seized union fees from electrician Ardeshir Ansari’s paycheck at the behest of SEIU bosses, even after he had informed them that such fees violate his religious beliefs.Boston College officials seized union fees from electrician Ardeshir Ansari’s paycheck at the behest of SEIU bosses, even after he had informed them that such fees violate his religious beliefs.

BOSTON, MA – In November, National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys filed a federal Title VII religious discrimination lawsuit for a Boston College electrician whose rights were violated by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in illegally demanding union fees. The lawsuit also names his employer, Boston College, for its role in the discrimination.

Ardeshir Ansari objects to supporting the union based on deeply held religious beliefs. Under the local SEIU’s monopoly bargaining agreement at Boston College, however, he was told that he must join or financially support the SEIU or be fired. To avoid being fired, Ansari unwillingly paid fees to the union in violation of his sincere religious beliefs.

On October 1, 2018, Ansari sent a letter to Boston College and the SEIU, informing them his religious beliefs conflict with joining or financially supporting the union. He asked that his union fees be diverted to charity instead of being sent to the union, an established remedy for such a conflict.

Instead of responding, the college continued to take a cut of his paycheck and send it to SEIU officials in violation of his sincerely held religious beliefs.

In response, Ansari filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against college and union officials. The EEOC then determined that both Boston College and the SEIU had violated Title VII.

Last September, the EEOC gave Ansari a right-to-sue letter, which authorized him to file a lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That federal law prohibits employers and unions from discriminating against an individual based on his or her religious beliefs.

In November, Foundation staff attorneys filed a lawsuit for Ansari against Boston College and the SEIU for illegally discriminating against him by failing to reasonably accommodate his religious beliefs, violating his rights under Title VII.

The lawsuit demands that college and SEIU local officials pay all fees deducted from Ansari’s paycheck to a charity mutually agreed upon and seeks damages for the emotional distress he suffered while his rights were violated for more than a year.

EEOC Found Religious Discrimination by SEIU

Moreover, the Title VII lawsuit asks the court to prevent the college from continuing to discriminate against his religious beliefs and that the union be required to inform workers that those with religious objections to the payment of union fees are entitled by law to pay those fees to a charity instead.

“Workers with sincere religious objections to joining or funding a union are legally protected from being forced to violate their conscience,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Ray LaJeunesse. “No one should ever be forced to choose between keeping a job to provide for their family and violating their deeply held religious beliefs by supporting a union.”

“Right to Work laws protect workers like Mr. Ansari from this kind of discrimination. Under those laws, workers can stop paying union fees and resign union membership for any reason and thus avoid illegal religious discrimination,” added LaJeunesse.

18 Jan 2020
2 Jan 2020

Grocery Workers Win Cases Against UFCW Union Bosses for Illegal Strike Threats

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Union officials forced to refund seized dues, cease misleading workers about their rights

Democrat presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, seen here on the UFCW picket lines in April, sided with the union bosses who violated workers’ rights in an effort to secure their forced-dues-backed support in her campaign
Democrat presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, seen here on the UFCW picket lines in April, sided with the union bosses who violated workers’ rights in an effort to secure their forced-dues-backed support in her campaign.

BOSTON, MA – This September, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys won precedent-setting settlements for Massachusetts Stop & Shop employees Saood Rafique and Matthew Coffey. The two men charged United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union agents with multiple violations of their rights during the April 2019 union boss-ordered strike on the grocery chain. Rather than face continued prosecution, union officials settled their cases by remedying all of the violations of the workers’ rights stated in their respective unfair labor practice charges against the union.

Both Coffey and Rafique were misled by union agents from the start of their employments into thinking that joining the UFCW was a condition of employment at Stop & Shop. Such an arrangement, sometimes called a “closed shop,” was outlawed by the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. UFCW bosses also charged each of them full union dues illegally for years.

UFCW Agents Ramp Up Violations During Strike

Once the strike was ordered by UFCW bosses in April, Coffey and Rafique both found out — independently of what any union official had told them — that union membership could not be mandated as a condition of employment and that they had the right to rebuff the strike order and return to work.

Because they exercised their right to return to work, union agents targeted Coffey and Rafique with vicious campaigns of intimidation during the strike. Their initial unfair labor practice charges, filed with free assistance from the Foundation, reported that UFCW agents hit them with threats of termination, harassment and other forms of illegal retaliation after they decided to go back to work.

“The union threatened that, as soon as the company came back, I was gonna be fired immediately, because in order to work at Stop & Shop they claimed that you had to be part of the union,” Coffey told CBS Western Mass News during the strike. “Which was a blatant lie.”

Coffey and Rafique also experienced illegal retaliation after the strike, with Coffey receiving a letter from union officials demanding he appear before a UFCW kangaroo court to be punished for exercising his right to keep working, and Rafique reporting that UFCW agents had told his coworkers to spy on him.

Settlements Order Remedies for All UFCW Rights Abuses

The class-wide settlements for Coffey and Rafique, approved by National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 1 in Boston, order UFCW bosses to post remedial rights notices in over 70 Stop & Shop stores, as well as on the internet and in the union’s monthly newsletter, to inform all employees of their rights to both abstain from union membership and pay only the part of union fees directly germane to bargaining. These settlements enforce the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision.

The remedial notices also announce that UFCW officials will return to Coffey and Rafique dues seized from them in violation of their Beck rights. Also included in the notices are declarations that UFCW officials will “process resignations and objections of [all] bargaining unit employees who have resigned” union membership and “will not threaten [employees] with internal union discipline or fines” for returning to work during a strike. The settlements totally remedy the unfair labor practices suffered by the two grocery workers.

“These victories should serve as a reminder to all American employees — and union officials — that the individual rights of workers don’t cease to exist when union bosses call a strike,” commented Ray LaJeunesse, Vice President and Legal Director of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Workers who are subjected to strike intimidation or union bosses’ illegal misinformation can turn to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal aid to hold union bosses accountable for their illegal actions.”

New York Employee Also Wins Case After Illegal Dues Demands

The two New England grocery workers were not the only Stop & Shop employees to win settlements against the UFCW recently. John Smith, a former employee of the Stop & Shop branch in New Hyde Park, New York, also won a victory with Foundation aid this September.

Smith had charged UFCW agents with similarly misinforming him that the grocery store was a “closed shop” when he was hired in November 2018. When he asked about how to resign his union membership, he was misled by several union officials about his right to resign and cut off a portion of union dues.

Smith’s charge also noted that union officials never apprised him of his right as a non-member to pay only the amount of union fees directly related to bargaining, as the Foundation-won CWA v. Beck Supreme Court decision requires.

His settlement, approved by NLRB Region 29 in Brooklyn, orders union officials to post notices that union officials will inform employees of their rights to refrain from formal union membership and pay only union fees directly related to bargaining. Smith will also be refunded dues that were taken in violation of his Beck rights.

“As Smith’s case shows, union bosses won’t hesitate to mislead workers regarding their legal right to resign their union membership and full union dues,” added LaJeunesse. “Unfortunately this type of misinformation will continue to be spread as long as workers lack Right to Work protections that make union membership and financial support completely voluntary.”

29 Dec 2019

Foundation Assists Workers During UAW Union Boss-Ordered GM Strike

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Strike order comes during growing UAW boss corruption and embezzlement investigation

With free aid from the Foundation, Ford employee Lloyd Stoner won a unanimous ruling from the NLRB which ordered UAW bosses to refund illegally seized dues

With free aid from the Foundation, Ford employee Lloyd Stoner won a unanimous ruling from the NLRB which ordered UAW bosses to refund illegally seized dues.

DETROIT, MI – In September, United Auto Workers (UAW) union bosses ordered tens of thousands of General Motors workers on strike. The strike came as federal prosecutors were intensifying their investigation into embezzlement and corruption within the UAW hierarchy. Just days before the strike, the probe had reached the top levels of the UAW when FBI agents raided the homes of the union’s current president and his predecessor.

Amid the scandal and union boss-instigated strike, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys were assisting several Michigan workers in legal challenges to the coercive practices of UAW officials. Additionally, Foundation Legal Information staff publicized a “special legal notice” directed at workers affected by the strike to ensure they knew their legal rights despite persistent union misinformation and threats.

GM Worker Stands Up to UAW Discrimination

Joseph Small, a stamping metal repair worker at a Lansing, Michigan, GM plant, filed a federal charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) right before the strike unfolded with free aid from Foundation staff attorneys. Small, who is not a UAW member and is not required to pay fees to the union because of Michigan’s Right to Work Law, asserted in his charge that UAW officials “heavily involved [themselves] in the interview process” for a promotion for which he was being considered.

Small was passed over for the position, which went to a union member. Small’s charge notes that a union representative later “stated that [Small] did not get the position because [he] was not paying union dues,” a clear violation of federal labor law.

According to the National Labor Relations Act, workers have the right to refrain from union activities and neither union officials nor management can discriminate against employees based on their union membership status.

Ford Worker Wins Unanimous NLRB Ruling

Ford Motor Company worker Lloyd Stoner, who works at the company’s facility in Dearborn, Michigan, won a second victory in defense of his rights this August with free legal aid from the Foundation.

Stoner, who had originally charged UAW officials and Ford with illegally seizing dues from his paycheck despite his previously resigning his union membership and revoking his dues deduction authorization, received a unanimous ruling from a three-member panel of the NLRB in Washington, D.C. The labor board directed UAW officials to make Stoner whole for the dues they illegally took.

The NLRB also ordered UAW officials to immediately honor any other employees’ membership resignations. Stoner had earlier won a favorable settlement from Ford for its role in blocking him from exercising his rights.

“UAW union officials continue to show a willingness to break the law, even violating the rights of the very workers they claim to represent,” observed National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Patrick Semmens. “Whether it be federal corruption prosecutions or unfair labor practice charges at the NLRB, UAW bosses must be held accountable when they break the law.”

27 Dec 2019

Foundation Urges Federal and State Governments to Protect First Amendment Rights

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Alaska first state to require First Amendment Janus rights waiver before deducting union dues

Dunleavy Clarkson AlaskaAlaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (left), following an opinion from Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, ordered all Alaska state agencies to protect state employees’ First Amendment rights under Janus.

ANCHORAGE, AK – In late September, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy signed an executive order to protect the First Amendment rights of state employees established in last year’s Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court decision. The order calls for the State of Alaska to stop deducting union dues from the paycheck of any worker who hasn’t filed a form with the state affirmatively waiving his or her First Amendment right under Janus not to fund any union activities.

The move follows a letter last year sent by National Right to Work Foundation Legal Director Raymond LaJeunesse to state comptrollers in Alaska and other states, urging them to modify dues deduction policies to comply with the Janus decision.

Foundation Comments Detail Need to End Dues Deductions Uncompliant with Janus

The Foundation also recently filed comments with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) regarding the need for the federal government to take steps to protect the First Amendment rights of employees recognized in the Foundation-won Janus decision. The Foundation’s comments were submitted after the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) asked the FLRA to solicit public comments on how to proceed with union dues deductions in light of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision last year.

In that case, the High Court held that requiring public employees to pay union dues or fees without their consent violates the employees’ First Amendment rights “by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.” Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion for the court further ruled that no union dues or fees could be taken from a public employee “unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay” using a “freely given” waiver of his or her First Amendment rights.

Consistent with that standard, the Foundation’s comments urge the FLRA to issue guidance to agencies that they “must cease deducting union dues from the wages of employees who signed a dues deduction form that does not satisfy the [Janus] standard.” According to Department of Labor statistics, nearly one million federal employees — 26.4% of all federal workers — are union members, many of them likely having dues deducted from their paychecks despite never having knowingly waived their First Amendment right not to subsidize union activities.

The Foundation comments make clear that these dues deductions should cease in the wake of Janus. To comply with Janus, workers wanting to voluntarily pay union dues can either provide the government with a valid waiver of their rights or pay dues on their own without using taxpayer-funded payroll systems to forward the money to union officials.

The Foundation’s comments to the FLRA further argue that, even where workers provide a valid authorization for dues deductions that meets the Janus standard, the government shouldn’t block them from revoking that authorization if the request is submitted at any time at least a year after the Janus-compliant authorization was obtained.

Foundation Comments Push to End Union-Created “Window Period” Scheme

Unfortunately, agencies and union officials often prohibit federal employees from stopping the seizure of union dues from their wages except during short annual escape periods. The comments filed by the National Right to Work Foundation say that this practice does not comply with Janus either.

“The Janus precedent is very clear about this: Without affirmative and knowing waivers from public workers, government entities cannot collect union dues without violating a worker’s First Amendment rights,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix.

“Currently, the government seizes union dues from almost one million federal employees in violation of the Janus decision’s First Amendment standard. Federal agencies are obligated to protect workers’ constitutional rights in this rulemaking process.”

Since the Janus decision last year, Foundation staff attorneys have been fighting to ensure public workers’ First Amendment rights are protected, litigating more than 30 cases in federal courts across the country to enforce the landmark ruling.

1 Dec 2019

Foundation Winning Protections Against Forced Unionism at Trump NLRB

The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, September/October 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.

Series of victories adds protections against illegal forced dues, being trapped in union ranks

Staff attorney Glenn Taubman testified before Congress in July that existing NLRB rules wrongly favor union bosses over workers

Staff attorney Glenn Taubman testified before Congress in July that existing NLRB rules wrongly favor union bosses over workers.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a series of recent victories, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled in favor of workers challenging coercive union official practices, with free legal aid provided by the National Right to Work Foundation. The rulings are a stark departure from the Obama NLRB, which regularly stymied the rights of independent-minded employees opposed to associating with union bosses.

Foundation Wins Appeals in Dues Checkoff Cases

In separate cases brought by Foundation staff attorneys for Kacy Warner, a hospital worker, and Shelby Krocker, a Kroger grocery employee, the NLRB General Counsel ruled for the workers and ordered Regional Directors to prosecute union officials’ actions related to language in union dues checkoff forms.

The General Counsel’s decision to sustain Warner’s appeal concerning the checkoff authorized even more additions to the charges, saying the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) union violated the NLRA by “maintaining confusing and ambiguous dual-purpose authorization forms that unlawfully restrained employees in the exercise of their Section 7 rights.”

The General Counsel noted that the union’s forms failed to tell workers they can revoke authorizations for dues deductions after the union’s contract expires, failed to give workers adequate time to revoke authorizations, unlawfully required workers to use certified mail to send revocation requests, and failed to give “any indication to employees that payroll deduction authorization is voluntary.”

This came just a week after the General Counsel sustained another Foundation-led appeal for Krocker, who charged United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union officials with illegally forcing her to sign a dues checkoff authorization. In both cases, the NLRB General Counsel authorized even more charges against union officials for misleading and confusing language regarding union dues deductions.

NLRB Regions Instructed to Prosecute Beck Violations

Also in July, the NLRB Division of Advice and General Counsel instructed regional directors to issue complaints against unions when union officials fail to inform employees of the amount of reduced union fees they can pay by objecting under the Communication Workers of America v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The memos instruct NLRB Regional Directors to more stringently enforce workers’ Beck rights which protect workers from being forced to fund nonchargeable union activities such as union political activities. A memo issued to the Director of NLRB Region 32 read in part that “it is difficult for an employee to make an informed decision about whether to become a Beck objector without knowing the amount of savings that would result from the decision.”

“The Foundation is proud to have represented the California employee whose charge against the UFCW resulted in this Advice Memo, as well as necessitating this heightened disclosure standard by winning the Beck decision at the Supreme Court and the Penrod decision at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Ray LaJeunesse said. Foundation staff attorneys are currently litigating several additional cases to secure and expand workers’ protections under Beck.

Ruling Aids Workers Trapped in Union Ranks They Oppose

In another Foundation victory for independent-minded workers in July, the NLRB issued a decision that limits union officials’ ability to game the NLRB system to trap workers in monopoly union ranks. The ruling allows employers to withdraw recognition from a union when a majority of its workers sign statements opposing unionization.

Foundation staff attorneys represented two workers, Brenda Lynch and Anna Marie Grant, who spearheaded the collection of signatures from a majority of workers opposed to union representation. Their employer complied with their wishes and sent the union bosses packing. After United Auto Workers (UAW) union officials sought to foist the union back onto the workers despite their clear opposition, Foundation staff attorneys persuaded the NLRB to uphold the UAW’s ouster.

“Instead of union lawyers playing legal games for months or even years to block the removal of a union that lacks majority support, the Board majority takes the common sense approach of asking union officials to prove their claim of support in a secret ballot vote of the workers,” said LaJeunesse.