Marvit: Group that Brought Us ‘Janus’ is Waging a New Stealth Attack on Unions

Labor News

Reprinted from In These Times by Moshe Marvit on December 13, 2018.

“Last week, a case was filed in federal court in Pennsylvania that may mark another major front in the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s (NRTW) war on labor,” writes Moshe Marvit in In These Times. “Though the NRTW has been attacking labor since its official founding in 1955, it has only recently come into its moment, having enormous success with the courts. Since 2012, the NRTW has brought four cases to the US Supreme Court, including the major Janus case, which overturned a 41-year-old precedent by pushing all public-sector workers into ‘right to work.’ This legal framework permits workers to not pay any dues to the unions that represent them, and ‘right to work’ laws have become one of the Right’s favorite weapons to defund and sow discord among labor. In its newest effort, the NRTW is attempting to overturn a body of labor law, in place for decades, that encourages employers to bargain in good faith after settling an unfair labor practice charge.

“Under normal circumstances, any time 30 percent of unionized workers file a decertification petition, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will hold a vote to determine if the union has lost a majority of its support. However, there are certain circumstances where the NLRB will not hold a decertification election because it interferes with the employer’s legal obligations. One such instance, which the NRTW now attacks, was developed in a 1951 NLRB case called Poole Foundry, which holds that the NLRB won’t hold a union decertification election if the decertification petition is filed after the union and employer settle an unfair labor practice complaint, if the settlement contains a provision that the employer bargain with the union in good faith.

“In 1951, the NLRB said the rule exists to account for the fact that a union’s support may decline after the employer has engaged in unfair labor practices. Furthermore, if decertification elections were permitted during the required bargaining period, the employer would have an incentive to not bargain in good faith …

In These Times 12/13

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Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

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