Handcuffing Employees in Union Boss-Controlled Monopolies Challenged
Lawmakers Urged to Liberate Civil Servants
Big Labor’s Monopoly-Bargaining Privileges
Spawn Manifold Abuses
Under special-interest statutes now on the books in more
than 30 states, public employees who don’t wish to join a union are prohibited
from dealing directly with their employer on key matters concerning their jobs.
And such independent-minded workers may also be denied the
right to vote on the workplace contract crafted by union bosses endowed with
monopoly-bargaining privileges and their employer.
“In states with government-sector monopoly-bargaining laws,
employees are legally blocked from having any say whatsoever regarding major
workplace matters unless they join a union and help bankroll its ideological
activities,” said National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix.
Case Challenging Injustice of Monopolistic Unionism Heard
By Massachusetts High Court
Recently, Bay State civil servants represented by a staff
attorney for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the
Committee’s sister organization, brought a case challenging the injustice of
monopolistic government unionism before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial
And Right to Work activists in state after state are asking
their elected officials to end this injustice legislatively.
“The simplest and best way to stop the Big Labor abuses that
invariably result when government corrals workers into union collectives is to
abolish the union-boss privilege of ‘exclusive,’monopoly
bargaining,” said Mr. Mix, who heads the Right to Work Foundation as
well as the Committee.
“Either courts or state lawmakers could potentially revoke
Big Labor’s privilege to prevent a public employee who isn’t a union member
from dealing directly with the employer regarding his or her own job terms and
conditions, even if both the employee and the employer want to negotiate with
On January 8, Massachusetts’s highest court heard oral
arguments in Branch v. Commonwealth Employment Relations Board.
Plaintiffs Must Submit to Big Labor Control to Keep Serving
Foundation attorney Bruce Cameron, who is also a professor
of labor law at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., presented the case
for the four plaintiffs, who are all employed as public educators.
Lead plaintiff Ben Branch is a professor of finance at the
Isenberg School of Management of the University of Massachusetts (UMass)
Amherst. Two of Dr. Branch’s fellow plaintiffs are also UMass employees. The
remaining plaintiff is a middle school teacher in Hanover, Mass.
As Mr. Cameron explained in a judicial brief filed last
summer, none of the plaintiffs wants to be subject to so-called “exclusive”
union representation regarding key terms and conditions of university or school
But all of the plaintiffs must submit to Big Labor control
in order to continue serving as public educators.
The brief directly quoted the reasons given by each of the
plaintiffs for his or her opposition to union monopoly bargaining.
Dr. Branch, for example, charges that that Massachusetts
Teachers Association (MTA/NEA) union officials make it harder to “weed out
ineffective and unproductive faculty.”
He further charges that the union hierarchy “places
additional burdens on the most effective and productive faculty,” by favoring
and protecting “the least productive and effective faculty.”
‘Support Big Labor Politics, or Give up Your Workplace
Voice and Vote’
Another plaintiff, middle school teacher Deborah Curran,
credibly contends that MTA union bosses have sought to exploit their
monopoly-bargaining privileges to punish her for refusing to join their
For example, Ms. Curran charges that, after she was promoted
to the position of “district wide coordinator” for a new-teacher-mentoring program, union
officials tried to have her removed from this position.
Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 2018 ruling in Janus
v. AFSCME Council 31, successfully argued by Right to Work Foundation staff
attorney William Messenger, the Branch plaintiffs are at least no longer
forced to pay dues or fees to a union they would never voluntarily join.
However, post-Janus Massachusetts law continues to
bar freedom-loving educators from negotiating their own contracts, and also
prevents them from having any real influence over how the MTA union wields its
monopoly-bargaining privileges unless they give up their First Amendment rights
and become members.
Mr. Mix commented:
“As MTA kingpins openly boast in literature they pass out to
nonmember educators, unless and until they join the union and thus effectively
agree to support a wide array of Big Labor political speech, they will be barred
from attending most MTA meetings.
“Moreover, educators who decline to pay for MTA union
bosses’ politicking and electioneering are not allowed to ‘vote on [the]
election of officers, bylaw modifications, contract proposals or bargaining
strategy’ of the MTA, even though it has monopoly power to speak for members
“In practice, the monopolistic labor laws of Massachusetts
and dozens of other states tell millions of civil servants to support Big Labor politics, or give up
your workplace voice and vote.”
As last year’s Janus opinion acknowledged, union
“exclusivity” in the government sector “substantially restricts the rights of
State Lawmakers Have The Ability and the Duty To Protect
Unfortunately, state and federal courts have for decades
brushed aside the constitutional problems with union monopoly bargaining in
Recognizing the uphill battle they face, the Branch
plaintiffs are not asking the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to prohibit
union monopoly bargaining “in the abstract,” but rather to bar it insofar as it
is exploited to coerce public workers into supporting Big Labor political
As of the beginning of February, the state Supreme Court had
yet to issue an opinion in Branch.
“Committee members and supporters around the country are
hoping the jurists who heard the Branch arguments a few weeks ago will
do the right thing,” said Mr. Mix.
“But frankly we can’t count on that.
“Fortunately, judges are not the only people who have the
authority to redress constitutional wrongs.
“When a state law violates the U.S. Constitution, state
lawmakers and chief executives have the duty to repeal or amend the law to
bring it into accord with the Constitution, regardless of what the judiciary
decides to do.”
Workers Put ‘Under Powerful Compulsion to Join’ Unions By
Mr. Mix continued:
“The vast majority of the 50 states currently have statutes
on the books forcing some or all types of public employees to be subject to
union monopoly bargaining in order to work for taxpayers.
“Thanks to Right to Work’s Janus victory, it’s no
longer legal, anywhere, to fire teachers, police, firefighters, or other public
servants for refusal to pay for union advocacy.
“However, as the late Thomas E. Harris, then a top AFL-CIO
lawyer, acknowledged back in 1962, union officials often use their
monopoly-bargaining privileges as a cattle prod to herd more workers under
their control, and punish those who resist.
“‘The fact that the union will negotiate the contract which
regulates the incidents of [a worker’s] industrial life puts him under powerful
compulsion to join the union,’ said Mr. Harris.
“This observation remains true today. That’s why, this winter, National Right to Work officers and their grass-roots allies across the country are urging state lawmakers to push for passage of legislation prohibiting Big Labor ‘exclusivity’ in the government sector.”