Union-Boss Vow: Newly-filled High Court Will Hear Nationwide-Forced-Dues Case
(download the September 2016 NRTWC Newsletter)
In four lawsuits now pending in two different federal circuits and in the West Virginia and Wisconsin state court systems, union lawyers are making novel and audacious claims they hope will become a “doomsday” weapon against all statutory bans on compulsory union dues and fees.
National Right to Work President Mark Mix noted that the two federal lawsuits aiming to impose forced union fees nationwide are being advanced by Harvard professor Ben Sachs, a “go to” lawyer for the union hierarchy.
Mr. Sachs is being assisted by a legal team from San Francisco-based Altshuler Berzon, a favorite law firm for union bosses with plenty of forced-dues money at their disposal.
(National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys have already submitted supporting briefs to defend state Right to Work laws in three of the four cases, and will soon do so in the fourth case.)
After a String of Defeats in State Capitols, Big Labor Needs a ‘Hail Mary’ Play
“Even in light of the long record of the U.S. Supreme Court’s and other federal courts’ acceptance of far-fetched claims by union lawyers in order to uphold statutes authorizing monopolistic unionism,” said Mr. Mix, “the Sachs litigation can only be regarded as a judicial ‘Hail Mary’ pass.
“Clearly, union officials have decided that a ‘Hail Mary’ play is what they need.
“Over the past four-and-a-half years, four states have enacted Right to Work laws. A majority of states now protect employees from forced unionism. National Right to Work Committee members helped lead the charge.
“Despite all of its forced union dues-derived wealth and political clout, Big Labor has become less and less effective at blocking Right to Work in the legislative arena in recent years.”
Right to Work Laws Have Recently Been Passed in Heavily Industrial States
“Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia have approved Right to Work statutes over the course of just four years,” Mr. Mix continued.
“And the first three of these are heavily industrialized states of the sort where Big Labor propaganda long claimed such laws could never be adopted.
“Moreover, several more states — including Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire — are now poised to prohibit compulsory union financial support over the course of the next few years.
“Big Labor sees a chance to kill Right to Work before it is enacted in even more states. Naturally, union kingpins are jumping at the opportunity.
“Unfortunately for the union brass, the anti-Right to Work arguments Ben Sachs has concocted have never been persuasive.
“The constitutional ‘reinterpretation’ he advocates is possible only if the judiciary first accepts his and his allies’ claim that the government-granted monopoly privilege to represent union members and nonmembers alike at the bargaining table is worth exactly nothing to Big Labor.
“Few if any disinterested observers of how union officials go about their business would concur.”
Privileges Are ‘Sufficient Compensation’ For All of Big Labor’s Purported ‘Services’
“And just recently,” observed Mr. Mix, “a major new and almost certainly unexpected problem for the Sachs team has emerged: Even President Barack Obama’s National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] appointees are now on the record admitting union monopoly-bargaining privileges are a ‘thing of value.’”
On March 30, the Obama NLRB ruled 3-0 that bosses of Local 720 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) may not use the “exclusive” hiring hall they operate to discriminate against employees who live in a Right to Work state and exercise their freedom not to join or bankroll Local 720.
The IATSE Local 720 ruling, in which Chairman Mark Pearce, an ex-union lawyer, and member Lauren McFerran, a protégé of retired Big Labor U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), participated, entirely upheld an earlier decision by NLRB Administrative Law Judge Kenneth Chu.
Judge Chu had explicitly recognized that Local 720 officials and other union bosses across the country gain a “thing of value by being allowed the power of exclusive representation over all employees in the bargaining unit whether the employees agree or not . . . .”
He further observed that “exclusive representation” vests a union with “comprehensive authority” over the “users” of a hiring hall, putting such users in a position of “dependence” on union officials.
The power and control Big Labor derives from monopoly-bargaining privileges, Judge Chu concluded, are “sufficient compensation” for any expenses union bosses might incur while wielding those privileges over employees in Right to Work states who exercise their legal prerogative not to join or bankroll an unwanted union.