Wyatt Employment Law Report

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Unions Challenge Kentucky’s Right-to-Work Law









By Amanda Warford Edge

Organized labor is attempting to fight back against Kentucky’s new right-to-work law. Yesterday, the Kentucky State AFL-CIO and Teamsters Local 89 filed a lawsuit asking a judge to block the law’s enforcement. The law, enacted in January 2017, bans labor unions from collecting mandatory dues from employees they represent in collective bargaining. Opponents of the law believe that it produces “free riders” in union workplaces — people who benefit from the presence of a union but do not contribute — and limits the bargaining power of the union.

The lawsuit, filed in Franklin Circuit Court, claims the law violates the Kentucky Constitution. It also claims that the law is discriminatory because it treats unions differently than other organizations that collect fees or dues to cover the costs of the benefits it provides. The Kentucky State AFL-CIO and Teamsters Local 89 ask the judge to temporarily block the law while the lawsuit proceeds. Governor Matt Bevin and Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey are named as Defendants.

Lawsuits challenging “right-to-work” laws in other states have received mixed decisions in the courts. The Seventh Circuit upheld Indiana’s law. And last year, the Sixth Circuit upheld city right-to-work ordinances in Kentucky. However, a circuit judge halted the implementation of West Virginia’s law in August 2016, and a Wisconsin court ruled that its right-to-work law was unconstitutional in April 2016.

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NLRB Asserts McDonald’s Is a “Joint Employer” of Employees of Its Franchisees

By Amanda Warford Edge

The NLRB’s general counsel announced on December 19, 2014 that he will proceed with thirteen (13) cases involving seventy-eight (78) charges against McDonald’s USA, LLC and its franchisees.  The alleged violations took place against McDonald’s workers in several cities throughout the country, including: Detroit, St. Louis, Manhattan, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Indianapolis.  McDonald’s and its franchisees allegedly retaliated illegally against employees who participated in union-related activities by reducing their hours, terminating them and/or subjecting them to other disciplinary actions.

By filing the cases against McDonald’s and its franchisees, the general counsel is asserting that McDonald’s can be liable as a “joint employer,” despite the fact that many of the alleged labor violations were committed by independent franchise owners.  This has sweeping industry implications, striking at the very heart of the franchise system.  Unions, of course, see the cases as a win, claiming that Continue reading

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Indiana’s New “Right To Work” Law Survives Constitutional Challenge

By John W. Woodard, Jr.

A local union’s federal lawsuit challenging Indiana’s new “right to work” law on constitutional grounds has been dismissed.  In 2012, Indiana became the 23rd state to enact “right to work” legislation prohibiting “union security clauses” in union contracts with employers.  Many argue that union security clauses strengthen unions by conditioning employment on a worker joining the union or at least paying fees to the union.   “Right to work” laws, it is claimed, contribute to a business friendly environment, attract companies, and encourage job growth.  In an action filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, the union contended the law was unconstitutional.  The district judge disagreed and dismissed the union’s lawsuit finding that “[n]one of the legal challenges launched by the Union … to attack Indiana’s new Right to Work law can succeed.”   The union has filed an appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  A copy of the district court’s January 17, 2013 ruling can be found here: \\loufs1\users\EHOPSON\My Documents\IN Court Memo and Order.pdf.

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Organized Labor Declines in Popularity According to Gallup

By Edwin S. Hopson

The Princeton, New Jersey-based Gallup Poll on September 3, 2009, released the results of its pre-Labor Day poll regarding the popularity of unions in America.  It’s bottom line finding is that “[w]hile 66% of Americans continue to believe unions are beneficial to their own members, a slight majority now say unions hurt the nation’s economy.”  The polling organization also found that “fewer than half of Americans — 48%, an all-time low — approve of labor unions, down from 59% a year ago.”

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