Fired Airline Worker Fights Union Machine

When Charlene Carter discovered in 2017 that Transportation Workers Union bosses had spent flight attendants’ forced-dues money to attend a political rally in Washington, D.C., she publicly protested. Then she was fired. (Credit: National Right to Work Staff)

Case Highlights Dire Need For National Right to Work Legislation

As a flight attendant, Charlene Carter would never have been forced to fork over union dues or fees just to keep her job, had it not been for an anti-worker provision inserted in the federal Railway Labor Act just over 70 years ago.

Unfortunately, because of the RLA amendment rubber-stamped by a union-label Congress in 1951, airline and railroad employees in all 50 states can be fired if they refuse to bankroll a union they don’t want, and never asked for.

In 2017, Ms. Carter was fired from her Southwest Airlines job for speaking out on social media about her objections to how Transportation Workers Union (TWU/AFL-CIO) bosses were spending her conscripted money to advance political and moral positions completely contrary to her beliefs.

And the Southwest Airlines executives who fired her were clearly acting in consort with TWU bosses. 

Legal Case Illustrates Big Labor’s Contempt For Dissenting Employees

“Charlene Carter is a committed Christian. And she strongly believes union officials have no business injecting themselves in policy battles over issues outside the workplace that are fundamental to her faith,” explained Mark Mix, the president of the National Right to Work Committee and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

“Meanwhile, officials of the TWU and TWU Local 556, to whose monopoly-bargaining power Ms. Carter was subject for many years, stridently support radical positions on issues that have nothing to do with the terms and conditions of employment.  And they routinely spend flight attendants’ money to promote these causes.

“The TWU hierarchy clearly thinks it can get away with spending flight attendants’ money to promote social causes that many of them oppose, because the RLA empowers union officials to get workers fired for refusing to pay union dues or fees.

“Even as it authorizes and encourages compulsory financial support for unions, the RLA is supposed to protect the freedom of employees like Ms. Carter to criticize, privately and publicly, union officials and how they choose to spend the money they’ve extracted from employees. 

“But the fact is that Big Labor generally has nothing but contempt for the freedom of dissenting employees to speak their minds. 

“And a lawsuit filed against TWU kingpins and Southwest executives by Ms. Carter, with National Right to Work Foundation attorneys’ help, which is now poised to go before a federal jury, is illustrating just how profound Big Labor’s contempt is.”

Charlene Carter Was Fired Because TWU Bosses Didn’t Like Being Criticized

“To put it bluntly,” continued Mr. Mix, “Charlene Carter was fired five years ago because then-TWU Local 556 President Audrey Stone and other Local 556 officials didn’t like being criticized for spending substantial amounts of flight attendants’ forced-dues money to advocate for political and social issues.

“In early 2017 personal messages and social media posts, Ms. Carter denounced the actions of the Local 556 brass, using passionate, but G-rated language, supported a recall effort against Ms. Stone, and endorsed passage of a national Right to Work law barring all forced union dues and fees as a job condition.

“Ms. Stone promptly complained to Southwest authorities, labeling criticism of her reign over Local 556 as ‘harassment.’

“Ms. Carter was fired in short order.”

Mr. Mix expressed optimism that, thanks in part to the expert legal counsel she is being supplied free of charge by Foundation attorneys, Ms. Carter would ultimately prevail in her lawsuit, which charges that TWU and Southwest bosses violated her rights under the RLA and her religious liberty.

U.S. District Judge Brantley Starr rejected a wide array of attempts by union and Southwest lawyers to get the case dismissed in a May decision. As this Newsletter edition went to press in early June, Carter v. TWU Local 556 and Southwest Airlines was scheduled to go to trial in July.

As welcome as a Carter victory over the vindictive TWU bosses and callous Southwest executives who colluded against her would be, said Mr. Mix, far more is needed to deter similar Big Labor abuses in the future.

National Right to Work Law Needed to Deter Future Big Labor Abuses

“It’s undeniable that Congress gave a green light for union bosses to trample employees’ rights when it inserted forced-unionism provisions in the RLA and the National Labor Relations Act,” Mr. Mix explained.

“The single most effective way to stop the Audrey Stones of this world from pushing around employees is for Congress to approve S.406/H.R.1275, the National Right to Work Act.

“This legislation would prohibit the firing of private-sector employees in all 50 states for refusal to pay money to an unwanted union. It would accomplish this worthy objective simply by repealing all the current provisions in the federal code that authorize compulsory union dues and fees as a condition of employment.

“Currently 125 members of Congress are sponsors of S.406/H.R.1275.”

Politicians Urged to Get Off the Fence

“Unfortunately,” noted Mr. Mix, “a relative handful of U.S. senators and representatives who made campaign pledges to support Right to Work 100% in 2020 have yet to follow through by cosponsoring federal compulsory-dues repeal.”

The three senators who have yet to keep their promises to cosponsor National Right to Work legislation are Ben Sasse (Neb.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), and Bill Hagerty (Tenn.).

Mr. Mix urged freedom-loving constituents to call these senators at 202-224-3121 and ask them to get off the fence by cosponsoring S.406.

Meanwhile, Committee members nationwide are being mobilized to contact the 18 remaining House members who have yet to keep their pro-Right to Work 2020 pledges as part of the federal Survey 2022 program.

“There’s no sensible reason why House members like Barry Moore [R-Ala.], Andrew Clyde [R-Ga.], and Tracey Mann [R-Kan.], whose constituencies are overwhelmingly opposed to monopolistic unionism, should hesitate to cosponsor H.R.1275,” said Mr. Mix. 

This article was originally published in our monthly newsletter. Go here to access previous newsletter posts.

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