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Pursuit of an Anti-Union Agenda


  • The Committee’s legislative priority is to pass ‘right-to-work’ laws to undermine workers’ rights.  The Committee has been successful in helping to pass five right-to-work state laws, making it far more difficult for workers to sustain their unions.  A total of 22 states have such draconian ‘right-to-work’ laws. 
  • The Committee boasts it was instrumental in quashing a 1977 Congressional bill that would have strengthened protections for workers seeking to form unions.10  Through its multi-million dollar campaign it generated eight million letters to members of Congress, and on one day it ran full-page ads in 30 major newspapers.11
  • Today, the Committee concentrates much of its legislative agenda on limiting workers’ rights and protections under the NLRA.  For example, the Committee is lobbying on behalf of the Secret Ballot Protection Act, a bill pending in Congress and sponsored by Rep. Charlie Norwood , which would ban the currently voluntary card check method for employers to recognize workers’ unions.  As a defensive strategy, the Committee advocates against the Employee Free Choice Act, bipartisan legislation that would require employers to recognize unions formed by the card check process and strengthen penalties against employers who violate labor law.

The Foundation consistently wages litigation to weaken workers’ rights to form unions:

  • In the case of Dana Corp. and Metaldyne (pending before the NLRB), the Foundation seeks to undermine workers’ ability to organize unions through the card check process. 
  • In Heartland Industries and Dana Corp. and Auto Workers, the Foundation aims to limit the ability of employers and unions to reach neutrality agreements, which create a non-adversarial, non-coercive environment for employees to decide on union representation. 
  • Additionally, the Foundation filed an amicus brief with the five-member Board of the NLRB to deny an entire class of employees of the right to organize and collectively bargain.12


Interfering with workers’ union organizing campaigns

"An opportunity for me to have the greatest impact in defeating the entity I feel is very detrimental to individual freedom."

– Former National Right to Work President Reed Larson on his years fighting unions.33

The Foundation plays a unique role in the anti-union movement by intervening with workers’ efforts to form unions.  The interloping group interferes with organizing efforts at various stages of campaigns, and even when a company and its workers have agreed to work together.  To scare workers away from organizing, it supplies workers with propaganda and encourages them to file charges and claims against the union:  

  • The Foundation sent propaganda and a letter to employees at Johnson Controls, proclaiming, “[union representatives] are not Girl Scouts stopping by to sell cookies.  These are full-time union operatives whose sole purpose is to get workers to sign the cards—by any means necessary.  Often, employees are misled, harassed, or feel threatened into signing.”13
  • When Cintas laundry workers began a nationwide effort to form a union, the Foundation offered to fund workers’ lawsuits against the union.14  To date, the Foundation has recruited only one worker to file suit against the union.15

The Foundation also works to undermine workers’ unions.  Recently, airport security guards who work for Covenant Aviation Security at the San Francisco International Airport formed a union with SEIU in 2005, and then secured a contract.  The Foundation, however, had to get in the mix, ignoring the will of these employees, and the benefits they gained through the union contract—including lower health care premiums, and improved sick and vacation leave.  Teaming up with an employee association, which workers voted against in two elections prior to choosing representation with SEIU, the Foundation continues to file petitions and appeals with the NLRB to chip away at the existing union.

How the National Right to Work Spreads Misinformation

National Right to Work often relies on deceptive and heavy-handed propaganda to discredit unions.  For example, NILLR, the group’s research arm, claims to have recorded over 9,000 incidents of union violence in an electronic database to convey its persistent message that union officials are violent thugs.16  But this data is full of holes and has been repeatedly discredited.  NILLR even confesses that it “cannot guarantee the accuracy of the file itself.”17  A 1986 report uncovered numerous inaccuracies in NILLR’s research, revealing, for instance, how a judge ruled that a union official cited by NILLR for committing a violent act, was actually framed by the employer. 18  Yet NILLR refused to retract its claims.19 

Georgetown University law professor Michael Gottesman challenged the validity of the NILLR report on union violence, writing, “This paper employs overheated rhetoric and anecdotal narratives, usually without any source attribution, to claim that union-initiated violence is a national ‘crisis’….”20  Julius Getman, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, testified before the Senate that the NILLR report is “filled with misleading and erroneous statements… situations in which unions are the victims are included among the overall count of labor violence.”21

These inaccuracies didn’t stop the Center for Union Facts from promoting the flawed information as part of its extensive public relations campaign to smear the image of unions.22

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