The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, November/December 2018 edition.
Foundation attorneys seek to overturn Obama-era ruling that traps workers in union after abuse-prone “card check”
Foundation staff attorneys have asked the Trump NLRB to repeal Obama-era rulings that granted coercive powers to union officials, such as AFL-CIO top boss Richard Trumka (right), at the expense of worker freedom.
WASHINGTON, DC – Since 2011, a Big Labor-friendly ruling by the Obama National Labor Relations Board has barred workers from holding secret ballot votes to remove an unwanted union from their workplace.
Foundation staff attorneys have urged the new Trump NLRB to overturn the case called Lamons Gasket to restore employees’ protections against union officials’ coercion. The latest appeal, the third this year brought by staff attorneys, is on behalf of Seattle hotel housekeeper Gladys Bryant.
Bryant works at Embassy Suites. UNITE HERE Local 8 union officials unionized the workplace through a card check drive, which bypasses an NLRB-supervised secret ballot election and is often characterized by manipulation and intimidation. Union organizers misled Bryant and her fellow workers into signing cards, and then counted those cards as “votes” toward unionization.
When Bryant realized what had happened, she led a group of colleagues in filing an NLRB petition for a secret ballot decertification vote with free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys.
However, the election petition was dismissed by a regional career NLRB official using the Lamons Gasket ruling.
Under the Foundation-won Dana decision, workers could collect signatures to request a secret ballot election during a 45-day window following notice that they had been forced under union representation via card check. Dana had provided an important, although limited, protection for workers against coercive card check drives. However in the 2011 Lamons Gasket ruling, an Obama-selected NLRB overturned Dana. This means that no matter how many workers sign a petition seeking to oust a union, they can be barred for one year before they can file for a secret ballot vote.
Instead of ceding her workplace voice when her secret ballot vote petition was dismissed under Lamons Gasket, Bryant continued the legal battle with help from Foundation staff attorneys.
Foundation attorneys have submitted an appeal to the NLRB asking the Board to overturn Lamons Gasket and restore workers’ protections against the coercive tactics union officials use to force their monopoly bargaining privileges onto employees.
Such protections are especially important for workers in states like Washington that lack Right to Work protections. In those states, private sector employees can be forced to pay fees as a condition of employment to a union about which they never even had the chance to vote.
“Ms. Bryant’s situation reveals the coercive nature of a card check drive, and why the Trump Labor Board must end the Obama Board’s disastrous precedent,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President and Legal Director Ray LaJeunesse. “The Lamons Gasket decision means that workers can be forced to pay union fees even if the majority of the workplace wants to vote out the union. Workers must be allowed to fight back against this coercive process.”
Foundation staff attorneys also filed unfair labor practice charges, still under NLRB investigation, for Bryant against the union and hotel management for coercive tactics used in the union card check process.