Worker Asks Federal Appeals Court to Overturn Backroom Deal Between Union and Company Officials
Union organizers obtained workers' personal information as part of a quid pro quo with the company to force employees under union control
Hollywood, FL (February 3, 2011) -- With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, a Mardi Gras Gaming employee is taking his case against local union officials and his employer to a federal appeals court.
In 2008, Unite Here Local 355 and Mardi Gras Gaming officials entered into an agreement in which union officials agreed to spend over one hundred thousand dollars in workers' forced union dues on a gambling ballot initiative and guaranteed not to picket, boycott, or strike against the facility.
In return, Mardi Gras officials promised they would hand over employees' personal contact information (including home addresses), grant union operatives access to company facilities for the purpose of organizing through a coercive card check campaign, and refrain from requesting a federally-supervised secret ballot election to determine whether employees actually wanted to unionize.
With the help of Foundation attorneys, Mardi Gras Gaming employee Martin Mulhall filed a lawsuit against Unite Here in 2008, arguing that the company's concessions to the union are of substantial monetary value because the company made the union organizing process easier and less expensive.
Federal law aimed at preventing union operatives from agreeing to undermine workers' rights in exchange for concessions from management explicitly prohibits employers from giving "any money or other thing of value" to unions.
The suit also alleges that union bosses' willingness to spend over a hundred thousand dollars to lobby on behalf of Mardi Gras Gaming demonstrates just how valuable the agreement is to union officials.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently upheld Mulhall's standing to vindicate his rights in federal court. Now he asks the appellate court to judge his case on the merits and reverse a lower court's illogical ruling that management's concessions are not "things of value."
"So-called 'neutrality agreements' between companies and unions like the one agreed upon by Unite Here operatives and Mardi Gras Gaming give union organizers license to browbeat and intimidate workers into acceding to unionization," said Patrick Semmens, Legal Information Director for the National Right to Work Foundation. "Workers should never be cajoled or harassed into union ranks."