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Unions and Fundamental Freedoms: Two Upcoming U.S. Supreme Court Cases

The U. S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases in the next year which will determine whether persons will be protected in their exercise of the fundamental right to either choose whether to engage in union representation or to abstain from such representation, and to make such decision absent intimidation from either the union or their employer via the secret ballot election — the same process we use to elect our local, state and federal government officials. Interestingly, both cases stem from the President’s attempt to provide political payback to his allies in Big Labor through the Rogue NLRB.

In the first case, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide if the President acted unconstitutionally when he made several recess appointments to the agency charged with oversight of labor-management disputes, the National Labor Relations Board. The lower courts, culminating in the U.S. Third Court of Appeals both found the appointments unconstitutional (see Supreme Court to Consider Obama Recess Appointments and Appeals Court Nixed Obama’s Recess Appointments). This case not only has important implications concerning the further shredding of our constitution  through ignoring the tenant of the separation of powers of the branches of government by appointing his nominees without review and agreement by the legislative branch.

In the case of the NLRB, the Obama appointees seek to achieve Card Check through Regulation vs. Legislation. Simply put, the goal is to eliminate employees’ rights to a secret ballot election and replace it with Card Check as the means for employees to determine if they wish union representation. If you listened to the Administration’s and Big Labor’s rhetoric, what could be more simple and fair? Unfortunately, it is a process of coercion and intimidation as chronicled in The Devil at Our Doorstep. A process aptly named Death by a Thousand Cuts, which forces employers and employees to capitulate and be subjected to the terms of the so called Neutrality Agreement through ruthless Corporate Campaigns. The so-called “neutrality agreement” is hardly neutral and subjects both the employees and the employer to labor intimidation.

The second case involves a question of the validity of Big Labor’s sacred cow, the aforementioned Neutrality Agreement (see BNA – Supreme Court Agrees to Review LMRA Case Involving Section 302, Neutrality Agreement). To appreciate this case and its relevance, one must understand why this agreement is so important to big labor. As documented in previous blogs, unions have been on a steady decline since 1947 when Congress, following more than a decade of union corruption, passed the Taft-Hartley Act. Of the many important provisions of the Act, perhaps none was more so than the guarantee of the secret ballot election which, for all intents and purposes, eliminated card check.

Since its peak prior to passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, union membership has dropped from approximately 35-40% of the workforce to a low of 11.3% today. Statistics gathered by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, included a drop of approximately 400,000 members in the last year alone. Big Labor, realizing its imminent demise, understands it must reinstate card check to survive and is relying on the President and his rogue NLRB to allow them to exploit a little known and hidden clause in the Taft-Hartley Act that allows unions and employers to mutually agree to representation through card check. Unfortunately, it is very rarely an agreement achieved through mutual consent. It is predominantly achieved by Big Labor through outright intimidation of employers and employees. What is interesting about this particular case is that it has been brought by an employee disgusted with the intimidation and the fact he believes his rights to a secret ballot election and protection of privacy have been violated.

One thing certain about these cases is that the justices of the Supreme Court will receive a tremendous amount of pressure from the Administration and its Big Labor buddies to overturn the decisions of the lower courts. The Gasping Dinosaurs, already headed toward extinction, understand all to well that if these decisions are upheld it will be the end of Big Labor as we know it in this country (see If ruling goes Against Labor Union, Organizing Could Get Even Harder). Additionally, the President and his party know all to well they need Big Labor’s financial and ground support to continue to win elections, as well as increase their grip on and expand an already oversized government.

Even more frightening for the future of the United States is what could occur if these decisions are overturned. If they are, the current administration will feel empowered to continue to appoint radical people to high positions, not just in the NLRB, but all areas of government. If they can eliminate the secret ballot election for union recognition and trample on the constitution to appoint government officials how long will it be before they expand these programs to every corner of the government? Can you imagine no secret ballot elections to determine our government officials and instead all being appointed by the President?  These are landmark cases.

David A. Bego is the President and CEO of EMS, an industry leader in the field of environmental workplace maintenance, employing nearly 5000 workers in thirty-three states. Bego is the author of “The Devil at My Doorstep,” as well as the just released sequel, “The Devil at Our Doorstep,” based on his experiences fighting back against one of the most powerful unions in existence today.

CEQA Debate Rule No. 1: Do NOT Mention Union “Greenmail”

“Here’s the plan: pretend that unions aren’t exploiting the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as a tool to obtain labor agreements. Maybe no one will notice.”

Supporters and opponents of CEQA reform are straining to avoid this uncomfortable subject as influential Democrats in the California State Senate prepare to introduce an alleged reform of CEQA that would discourage abuses of the law.


Note: the second half of this article includes excerpts from my February 18, 2013 article on www.FlashReport.org entitled Highlighting the Top Union Abuses of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Thank you to www.FlashReport.org and www.UnionWatch.org for exposing generally unreported labor public policy issues to a wider audience in California and the United States.


This moratorium on referring to union “greenmail” reached absurd levels this week, as a noted journalist in San Diego who is left-leaning but generally recognized as honestly blunt neglected to report the obvious about union CEQA abuse.

An article entitled San Diego Hotels: Labor in Revolt was posted on February 20, 2013 in the “alternative” weekly newspaper San Diego Reader. It sympathetically portrayed the quest of organizers in the San Diego-based UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 to unionize the city’s hotel workforce.

Readers learn about various adversarial tactics used by UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 to pressure hotel operators to sign union agreements. The article mentions picket lines, boycotts, telling the hotel’s customers not to return, convincing elite universities to stop investing their endowment funds in hotel corporations, using labor laws offensively against employers, and encouraging workers to express themselves in public with chants, drum-beating, and labor songs.

All of these tactics reflect a typical union “corporate campaign.” But after reading the article, I went back and read it again. I couldn’t believe what I was – NOT – reading.

It mentions nothing about the high-profile CEQA actions filed by UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 against four proposed hotel projects! Here they are, as reported in www.PhonyUnionTreeHuggers.com:

1. Lane Field in San Diego: UNITE-HERE Local 30 Doesn’t Like a Proposed Hotel

2. San Diego Hotel Union (UNITE-HERE Local 30) Finds Environmental Calamity with San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina Ballroom Expansion

3. San Diego Convention Center Expansion: Construction Unions and Hotel Unions File 63 Pages Worth of CEQA Complaints

4. Hotel Union Uses CEQA Objections to Try to Block Proposed Fat City Hotel in San Diego

Four cases of CEQA abuse in the context of organizing campaigns! Overlooked and unreported…

An article exposing this practice could attract web readers, sell newspapers, and enhance the professional reputation of the journalist who wrote it. A news vacuum is waiting to be filled.

Soon an enterprising California reporter (or national reporter) will draw attention to labor union CEQA exploitation with an investigative article. In recent years, the New York Times did this with a June 18, 2009 article A Move to Put the Union Label on Solar Power Plants; also, the Los Angeles Times did this with a February 5, 2011 article Labor Coalition’s Tactics on Renewable Energy Projects Are Criticized.

I anticipate this future investigative article will flush out the union greenmail by either providing a broad survey of 20 years of union CEQA abuse or by focusing in-depth on one of the dozens of recent union CEQA document dumps and lawsuits against proposed projects.

Here are the top examples of union “greenmail” in 2012 and in 2013 that are ripe for investigation and exposure.

The #1 Union “Greenmail” CEQA Exploitation Case of 2012: San Diego Convention Center Expansion, Phase 3

The most high-profile union-instigated CEQA action in California in 2012 was targeted at the proposed San Diego Convention Center Expansion, Phase 3, estimated to cost $520 million, or more than $1 billion total if interest on borrowed money through bond sales is included. Unions hired the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo to advance the union objections. The saga is summarized on the web site www.SanDiegoConventionCenterScam.com:

It was known for years that the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council planned to use CEQA to delay construction of the convention center expansion until it obtained a union monopoly on construction with a Project Labor Agreement. The plans were documented in a March 2011 article It’s Out in the Open: Project Labor Agreement a Costly Possibility for San Diego Convention Center Expansion.

Sure enough, it happened. In several hundred pages of submitted letters and exhibits, the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and UNITE-HERE Local Union No. 30 in San Diego identified numerous problems…See the May 2012 union comments for the draft Environmental Impact report on the San Diego convention center expansion and the September 2012 union comments for the final Environmental Impact Report on the San Diego convention center expansion.

Read an account of the outrageous incidents that occurred at the September 19, 2012 meeting of the United Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners, where union leaders and their law firms brazenly pulled a “document dump” in front of the city’s civic leadership: Unions Threaten Environmental Litigation to Block San Diego Convention Center.

Press conference announcing unions dropping CEQA complaints against San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase 3.

Press conference announcing unions dropping CEQA complaints against San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase 3.

Yet all these environmental problems disappeared (except for some minor environmental mitigation in three settlement agreements between these unions and the City of San Diego) once contractors were required to sign a project labor agreement with unions as a condition of working on the project and unions won a memorandum of understanding expanding the unionization of the convention center workforce.

Mayor Jerry Sanders (who was about to leave office) held a press conference on November 8, 2012 with the county’s top union official Lorena Gonzalez (who is planning a campaign for a California State Assembly seat) essentially to announce that the union environmental extortion “greenmail” was effective. The unions made “deals” with the City of San Diego and the prime contractor (a joint venture of Clark Construction Group and Hunt Construction Group) for the San Diego Convention Center Expansion, Phase 3.

San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council Project Labor Agreement for San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase 3

CEQA Works! Unions get a Project Labor Agreement for the San Diego Convention Center Expansion Phase 3 and environmental concerns are resolved.

The California Coastal Commission may soon consider approval of this project, now unimpeded by earlier concerns cited by unions about how the sea-level rise caused by global warming might submerge the convention center expansion.

The #1 Union “Greenmail” CEQA Exploitation Case of 2013 (So Far): Mono County Geothermal Plants

People in Mono County are incredulous about the tremendous opposition of construction trade unions (specifically, California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) and Laborers Union Local No. 783) to the Ormat Technologies proposed upgrade of its long-existing Mammoth Pacific I geothermal power plant and its proposed Casa Diablo IV geothermal power plant. Actually, every Californian should be outraged about this new round of union “greenmail.”

The web site www.PhonyUnionTreeHuggers.com explains what has happened so far with the proposed Mammoth Pacific I plant upgrade:

At the October 11, 2012 meeting of the Mono County Planning Commission, a staff member informed the commission about “documents received just today” from the law firms of Lozeau Drury and Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo. In response, one commissioner stated that “last-minute documents can’t be read in two minutes without any background.” The commission approved the project on a 4-0 vote.

On October 19, 2012, California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) appealed the Mono County Planning Commission’s decision to approve the Mammoth Pacific I Replacement Project at its October 11, 2012 meeting. CURE was represented by the South San Francisco law firm of Adams Broadwell, Joseph & Cardozo.

Also on October 19, 2012, the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), Local No. 783 (LIUNA) appealed the Mono County Planning Commission’s decision to approve the Mammoth Pacific I Replacement Project at its October 11, 2012 meeting. The union was represented by the Oakland law firm of Lozeau Drury.

On November 13, 2012, the Mono County Board of Supervisors rejected the two union appeals of project approval. Here is the staff report to the Mono County Board of Supervisors on CURE’s appeal.

Local officials knew that Ormat Technologies has been pressured to sign Project Labor Agreements giving unions a monopoly on construction and maintenance. Unions have also harassed the company at the Imperial County Planning Commission, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors, and the California Energy Commission as it seeks approval for geothermal power plants in Imperial County such as Hudson Ranch II.

In fact, the February 28, 2013 meeting agenda of the California Energy Commission includes this item:

California Unions for Reliable Energy v. Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission [that is, the California Energy Commission], Real Parties in Interest Ormat Nevada, Inc., ORNI 18 LLC, and ORNI 19 LLC (Alameda County Superior Court, RG 12610669)

On December 14, 2012, Laborers Union (LIUNA) Local No. 783 filed a lawsuit (Concerned Bishop Residents v. County of Mono) in Mono County Superior Court claiming that the Mono County Board of Supervisors violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when it approved Ormat Technologies‘ replacement project for the Mammoth Pacific Unit 1 geothermal power plant. The lawsuit explains that Laborers Union members “regularly travel to the Mammoth Lakes area of Mono County to enjoy its peaceful repose.”

Enjoying its peaceful repose and diversity and rarity of species of plants and animals.

Enjoying its peaceful repose and diversity and rarity of species of plants and animals.

But the ultimate CEQA strike by unions against geothermal power occurred on January 30, 2013, when the U.S. Bureau of Land Management office in Bishop was crushed by an incredible pile of comments from California Unions for Reliable Energy and Laborers Union Local No. 783 objecting to the draft Environmental Impact Report / Environmental Impact Statement for the Casa Diablo IV project. The amount of paper used for these objections probably required an Environmental Impact Report under CEQA.

The comments and associated exhibits are linked at Unions’ January 30, 2013 Comments Against Geothermal Power Plant Must Have Overheated the Printers!

Kevin Dayton is the President and CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC and is the author of frequent postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at www.laborissuessolutions.com.

Employees Revolt Against Forced Unionism

Emboldened by President Obama and his recent recess appointments to the Rogue NLRB the SEIU appears to be stepping up its patented Persuasion of Power. The SEIU’s “persuasion of power” is projected through its notorious Corporate Campaigns is vividly chronicled in my new book, The Devil at Our Doorstep. In simple terms, the SEIU’s corporate campaigns are designed to intimidate employees and employers into forced unionism. The end goal is to force the employer to sign a Neutrality Agreement, which substitutes Card Check for the secret ballot election. The SEIU then uses intimidation tactics to force a bare majority of employees to sign a union card. No election is held, and there is no chance for the employees to hear both sides of the story. There is no protection for employees from union thugs. Theneutrality agreement requires the employer to provide with a list of all its employees and their home addresses. Sound like an unfair playing field for both employees and employers?  It is. However, hope springs eternal as it appears employees across the country are waking up to the union thuggery.

As previously discussed in SEIU Exposed, SEIU members in California, identified as “Occupy SEIU,” are fed up with the SEIU’s intimidation and heavy handed tactics as well as its misuse of members’ dues for political purposes. In fact, the major player “Mariam the Mighty” and her large group of supporters will have their day in court on May 4, 2012, in an attempt to gain access to and expose SEIU’s finances and misuse of members’ dues for political purposes. This group’s ultimate goal is to use a non-germane campaign to force the SEIU to stop using employee dues for anything not directly benefitting the member and ultimately decertifying the SEIU later this year. This past week, Mariam rallied her troops in a demonstration in California’s Capitol, Sacramento, to protest against SEIU abuses.

This past week, on the opposite coast in Lynn, Massachusetts, employees of Complete Cleaning Inc. also struck back against the SEIU and its abusive practices. Faced with the card check scenario after their employer capitulated and signed a neutrality agreement, employees of Complete Cleaning refused to be intimidated into forced unionism. In fact, one brave employee, Jairo Hernandez, decided that enough was enough and with the assistance of Mark Mix from the National Right to Work Committee filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) with the National Labor Relations Board (the NLRB) alleging that SEIU organizers have attempted to coerce Complete Cleaning employees to organize (see Lynn Cleaning Co. Worker Files Charge Against Labor Union).

Bravo to the employees of Complete Cleaning who have stood up and refused to allow their freedom of choice to be usurped by the SEIU’s intimidation tactics! Tactics such as those chronicled in The Devil at Our Doorstep, have been further exposed by Complete Cleanings’ employees and include:

1.) Showing up at employees homes in an attempt to force them to sign union cards.

2.) Telling employees if they did not sign the card they would lose their job.

3.) Not allowing a secret ballot election.

4.) SEIU filed federal charges against Complete Cleaning in an attempt to force it to negotiate a contract.

5.) SEIU Local 615 claims monopoly bargaining privileges despite the fact the employees nearly unanimously opposed the union.

Although it appears this persuasion of power may eventually prove to be the demise of SEIU, at this point in time, that is not the case. Despite the fact that neither the employees nor the employer had an interest in what the SEIU was peddling, it has continued its assault on Complete Cleaning and their employees, even though the SEIU could not meet the terms of its own agreement by convincing a bare majority (50% +1) of employees to sign union cards. The SEIU is blatantly determined to prosecute this campaign with impunity because they have to rely on forced unionism to avoid extinction. More importantly, these unions understand that with President Obama and his NLRB recess appointments, they have little fear of losing this battle.

These tactics, supported by President Obama, are a blatant attempt to suppress American’s freedom of choice and as a direct result of this power grab, we are witnessing Right to Work (RTW) gain momentum across America. Ironically, in Indiana, which passed RTW earlier this year, the IUOE is contending that it cannot get the word out if it cannot “force” employees to be part of a union. This is the typical “do as I say, not as I do” mentality of Big Labor, who has no trouble trampling over the freedoms of others to achieve their goals, all of this to ensure their survival and ultimate power!

President Obama, who understands the basic tenant of Control Business, Control the Country, is fully behind the push to provide unions with ultimate power over employees and businesses, which in turn are providing him with support in his re-election campaign. It is time for America to wake up and understand this President abhors the free market system and is determined to destroy it, utilizing the SEIU’s influence and Communism at the Highest Levels. November is the tipping point for America. If President Obama is not defeated, we will see massive corporate campaigns across the country that will handcuff businesses and employees, while providing President Obama the totalitarian Rule by Fiat he desperately seeks.

About the author: David A. Bego is the President and CEO of EMS, an industry leader in the field of environmental workplace maintenance, employing nearly 5000 workers in thirty-three states. Bego is the author of “The Devil at My Doorstep,” as well as the just released sequel, “The Devil at Our Doorstep,” based on his experiences fighting back against one of the most powerful unions in existence today.