Union boss demanded personal emails of Sacramento-Yolo District workers seeking information about holding a vote to remove the union from their workplace
Sacramento, Calif. (May 15, 2019) – The California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) has found merit to unfair labor practice charges brought by three Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District employees. Accordingly, PERB issued unfair labor practice complaints for all three employees against the Operating Engineers Local Union 3 (IOUE). According to the complaint, union officials illegally tried to obtain private correspondence of the employees concerning their right to remove the union from their workplace.
The employees, Brett Day, Ryan Wagner, and Mark Pipkin, were targeted by union officials after they discussed how to exercise their rights as workers under California’s Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA), which guarantees public workers “the right to refuse to join or participate in the activities of employee organizations” and “the right to represent themselves individually in their employment relations with the public agency.” Union agents requested from their employer all emails the three had sent containing the words or phrases “decertification,” “PERB,” “union,” “decertify,” “how to get rid of union,” “Public Employee Relations Board,” and “Meyers Milias Brown Act.”
The request came as IOUE officials sought to block a push for a decertification election, in which workers would vote in secret to determine whether a majority want to end the union’s monopoly representation. Under the National Right to Work Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME, the dissenting workers finally have the legal right to stop financial support of the union, but California law still forces the union on them as their monopoly bargaining agent.
Day, Wagner, and Pipkin defended themselves by obtaining free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys and filing charges with PERB. The workers’ charges argue that the union’s demand for employee emails contravenes the workers’ rights under MMBA and calls for the union to end all its illegal activities, acknowledge the violation of employee rights, and post notices to remind workers of their freedom to refrain from union activities.
Now the PERB has found merit in the employees’ charges that the union, by requesting emails, “interfered with employee rights guaranteed by the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act in violation of section 3506 and thus committed an unfair labor practice.” Absent settlement, the PERB will move to prosecute the union for violating the workers’ legal rights.
“Operating Engineers union bosses are apparently so determined to stop workers from even holding a vote regarding union representation that they resorted to illegal intimidation tactics against the very workers they claim to ‘represent,’” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “As this case shows, even after the Janus decision recognized public workers’ legal right to stop subsidizing union activities, there remains much work to do to fully protect government employees from coercive union tactics.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.