National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation News Release:
NLRB Rules Union Officials Violated Federal Law by Forcing Nonmember Workers to Pay for Union Lobbying Activities
Labor Board ruling also found union violated Rhode Island nurse’s rights by not providing independent verification that its compulsory fee calculation was audited
Washington, DC (March 1, 2019) – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a sweeping decision in a nine-year-old case brought by Rhode Island nurse Jeanette Geary, ruling that union officials unlawfully spent Geary’s forced union fees and failed to meet a financial disclosure requirement on the amount of compulsory fees required as a condition of employment.
Geary, then a nurse at Kent Hospital in Warwick, Rhode Island, filed an unfair labor practice charge against the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) union in 2009 with free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
She filed the charges after UNAP officials failed to provide evidence of a legally required independent audit of its breakdown of expenditures. She also challenged the union’s forcing of her and other employees to pay for union lobbying activities in violation of the National Right to Work Foundation-won 1988 U.S. Supreme Court Beck decision.
The NLRB had issued a decision in 2012, but that decision was invalidated by the Supreme Court’s holding in NLRB v. Noel Canning that the Board lacked a valid quorum because of three unconstitutional “recess appointments” then President Obama made. Seven years later, Geary’s case was the only remaining case invalidated by Noel Canning that was still pending without a decision by the NLRB.
In January 2019 Foundation staff attorneys filed a petition at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seeking a court order that the NLRB promptly decide Geary’s case. The Appeals Court then ordered the NLRB to respond to the mandamus petition by March 4, which ultimately caused the NLRB to issue its decision on March 1, just ahead of the deadline.
The NLRB’s 3-1 decision held that union officials violate workers’ rights by forcing nonmembers to fund union lobbying activities. It also ruled that union officials must provide independent verification that the union expenses they charge to nonmembers have been audited.
“Jeanette Geary bravely fought against Big Labor’s workplace coercion for years to stand up against a blatant refusal to respect her rights and those of the workers union officials claim to represent,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Although this is an overdue victory for Jeanette Geary, ultimately these types of forced union abuses will never be eliminated until Big Labor’s power to force workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment are completely eliminated.”