Former Kent ER nurse wins battle over union dues

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Nine years ago, Kent Hospital emergency room nurse Jeanette Geary didn’t want to be a union member, but her co-workers voted to join the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP). Even as a non-member of the union, she and others who also opposed a union at the hospital were required to pay certain union fees. She wasn’t happy.

She wanted a breakdown of how the money was being spent, and when she didn’t get an independent audit she sought the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. Her action took her down a path that has given her an education in labor law and to the twists and turns of national politics.

After almost a decade, the NLRB ruled last month that the union violated federal law by using the fees from non-member workers to pay for lobbying activities and not providing a complete accounting of those fees to non-members.

Jack Callaci, UNAP Director, Collective Bargaining and Organizing said last week that the union intends to appeal the ruling. He reasons that the lobbying related to wages for the benefit of union members and non-members and therefore was permissible.

Geary, who now works in an emergency department in a North Carolina hospital, was reached by telephone Friday. She said she is “thrilled” and, fortified by the decision, aims to solicit the experiences of other nurses and bring transparency to union operations through the Internet. She is doubtful UNAP will appeal the ruling as they would run the risk of further strengthening the NLRB ruling if they lose in court.

She said her objective isn’t to bring down unions, but rather to educate workers on how their union dues are spent. She asks whether members are aware that UNAP collects about $2.5 million in dues from nurses at Rhode Island Hospital alone or that the union president, Linda McDonald, who has been a registered nurse at the hospital, makes $90,200.

“I’m kind of like on a mission now,” Geary said. “I can let people know how much people are making just because they have a title.”

She said the NLBR ruling gives her credence and validates her on a national level.

“We [nurses] are professionals. We have a voice and this shows that one person can make a difference,” she said.

She will start simply with a Facebook page. She said she is self-financing her effort and would not seek contributions from the National Right to Work Foundation or other groups.

“I don’t want any money from anybody. I’m not going to be attached to any group because, if I do, I’ll lose authenticity,” she said.

Her win may amount to some money, but surely not much.

“We would probably have to pay her about $9,” said Callaci.

If so little, why mount an appeal that could cost so much?

“It’s the principle that’s important,” he answered.

According to online reports of the case, in 2009 UNAP spent $22,650 from its general operating fund to contribute to its lobbying efforts in the Rhode Island and Vermont state legislatures. Those funds went directed toward lobbying on seven bills relating to health care institutions, and they ranged in purpose from increasing funding for mental healthcare services at UNAP-represented facilities to increasing state monitoring of certain hospitals.

In 2012 during the Obama administration, the NLRB endorsed a potential balancing test whereby lobbying for certain bills considered “germane” to statutorily-related union activities (such as bills increasing the minimum wage) would be permitted with nonmember contributions.

The legal battle didn’t end there, and the outcome changed with President Donald Trump.

The decision was appealed and the Supreme Court vacated the ruling when it held that three recess Obama appointments to the NLRB in January 2012 were invalid. Then in January of this year, Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys filed a petition at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seeking a court order that the NLRB promptly decide Geary’s case. The Appeals Court then ordered the NLRB to respond to the mandamus petition by March 4, which ultimately caused the NLRB to issue its 3-1 decision on March 1, just ahead of the deadline.

In a press release, the Foundation hailed the decision as sweeping but still shy of what needs to happen.

“Jeanette Geary bravely fought against Big Labor’s workplace coercion for years to stand up against a blatant refusal to respect her rights and those of the workers union officials claim to represent,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Although this is an overdue victory for Jeanette Geary, ultimately these types of forced union abuses will never be eliminated until Big Labor’s power to force workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment are completely eliminated.”

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Jeanette Geary

I am formulating email lists for: Communication, Education, and to Provide Assistance

to anyone who would like to know how much money their union collects, at local levels, how much the officers are paid, and relevant ongoing information.

My emails for this purpose are: Clock_In4Decert@yahoo.com, and/or Clock_In4Decert@icloud.com.

My initial goals are to inform members. My further goals are to educate members as to their rights. I will be opening a FaceBook group soon for discussion, and to present information.

One person can make a difference.

Friday, April 19
Bob Savage

Why is this a front page story. Alleged "big labor" represents less than 7% of the private workforce. UNAP is a small union that got its start organizing the nurses at Rhode Island Hospital. A union enforced collective bargaining agreement is the only way most employees are protected from being disciplined, including being terminated, without cause. The union's only chance to be an effective force in the workplace is for the employees in the "bargaining unit" to support it. This includes financial support and not just for collective bargaining, grievance and arbitration costs, but also to fund union effort to secure favorable legislation related to working conditions. Employees in the bargaining unit that refuse to contribute to these efforts only weaken the union's ability to protect employees from being subjected to unfair working conditions and discipline. The National Right to Work Foundation's purpose when it supports efforts such as Ms. Geary's is to further weaken unions, which are already in danger of becoming irrelevant in the private sector. An Employee's successful ability to refuse to support the collective bargaining rights of fellow employees is nothing to celebrate.

Friday, April 19
Jeanette Geary

Bob Savage:

You are free to belong to a union if you wish, and pay whatever dues you want to add to the multimillions of dollars the union collects.

After all, this is America.

Kent hospital local alone is forced to give to the union approximately $500,000 a year. I doubt the workers are receiving $500,000 a year in services.

Those who do not wish to belong to a union, and pay dues should not be subjected to "forced dues."

After all, this is America.

Translucency of financial disclosures by unions is key, particularly UNAP, which they refused to me. Perhaps you feel you are given services worth a million of dollars, but there are those who disagree.

Workers, BTW, who live in Right to Work states, given the privilege to NOT join unions, or pay their mandatory dues have no difficulty in maintaining their jobs. My voice is clearly heard. And I make considerably more than I did with UNAP's "contract."

Further, I have never seen one piece of legislation for health care workers that wasn't already covered by law, and also nearly always has the caveat, "unless an emergency at the health care system occurs," which means, the administration can levy whatever rules they deem, as they would define an "emergency."

The union also flaunts the $22,000 they used to pay for legislation, and yet their workers are still forced to strike, and walk in the snow and ice doing so. What did UNAP do with the rest of the millions of dollars it collects from the locals it supposedly represents? Little good did their "legislation" do.

I've worked in acute care for 40 years. I have NEVER seen someone fired who was not given standard human resource policy of verbal warnings, written warnings, counseling, and then termination. Your conclusion that the only way to hold one's job is to have a union isn't valid.

Are they such poor negotiators, making $147,000/year as Callaci makes, that they can't seem to get a contract that doesn't require health care staff to strike?

BTW, what is your job description as a health care worker??

Clock_In4Decert@icloud.com OR Clock_In4Decert@yahoo.com

Friday, April 19
Jeanette Geary

Correction to above:

Jack Callaci's salary listed for 2018 is $150,205.

That is listed for the Local at Rhode Island Hospital. It's quite possible he makes more given salary from each Local.

Friday, April 19
Bob Savage

This union busting “Right to Work” movement is nothing new. States were given the right to enact Right to Work laws by the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. Right to Work laws were promoted by business organizations for decades to break unions so that employers can pay workers less and dictate working conditions. These business organizations use disgruntled employees as their pawns in their decades long effort to destroy unions. It has worked. Along with permanent striker replacement, Right to Work laws have destroyed the effectiveness of unions. They have gone from representing over 30% of the work force to less than 7 % today. See short simplified video by a former Secretary of Labor: https://youtu.be/lLV4P5Pq0_0

Friday, April 19
Jeanette Geary

Bob Savage:

I'm not your pawn or anyone else's. Your egregious conclusion that I am a "pawn" is clearly the speak of unions, who convince workers that somehow, even though they manage their families, bills, and education, need someone to speak for them.

"Along with permanent striker replacement, Right to Work laws have destroyed the effectiveness of unions."

Your decision that all workers should be unionized in order to "protect themselves" certainly goes against any professional standing that health care workers hold in regards to their ability to communicate to their employer.

Registered nurses make decisions concerning life and death. They certainly have the ability to speak to their employer. They are not absent wisdom, articulation, or formulation of suggestions. So else are other health care workers.

What MY concern is is the millions of dollars UNAP/Heath Care Unions collect every year, and that the members of the union who do not wish to contribute, or be a part of a union, are disallowed their decision. And further, the unions refuse to make transparent their financial statements.

Apparently, you do not find personal liberty of value.

AND if anything has "worked" it is bold ex-members of unions, or members of unions who do not choose to contribute to come forward to say, "this just does not make sense." That is the right of the individual worker.

My win of this charge clearly tells what unions do behind closed doors is questionable.

My pay when I moved to a Right to Work state increased by $10/hr base. My pay is not less, yet more. My working conditions are much better due to employee/employer committees to make improvements for all. My independence as an intelligent RN with her CEN, CCRN, ACLS, PALS, TNCC, and ENPC is highly valued by my employer.

No union has advanced my professional standing, pay, or working conditions.

My goal, again, is to provide information to the members, as to how much money the union is giving the local officers, how much per year the unions collect, so as to give the member an opportunity to ask where all that money is going. It's a reasonable question.

I also am more than willing to answer questions. Email:

Clock_In4Decert@icloud.com OR Clock_In4Decert@yahoo.com

Friday, April 19
Jeanette Geary

Bob Savage:

"These business organizations use disgruntled employees"

I am/was not a disgruntled employee used by an organization.

That is the prey of unions, who use disgruntled employees to make them life long payers to THEIR organization, making their "prey" feel powerless, hopeless, and making promises they never fulfill. You will never hear a union director say, "Look, for free we will teach you how to group together and approach your employer so that everyone benefits." THAT would be the antithesis of their goal--------> $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

Ask any union to allow a new election prior to each contract, and see how they respond. They fear losing their "prey." They disallow any choice, re-election, or decertification information, in order to keep collecting their dues, as they sit in their office making huge salaries.

The National Right to Work did NOT come looking for me. I sent out many letters seeking compassionate help from any attorney, who was willing to offer charity for my cause. I pleaded for help. The NRTW answered my letter. They did NOT seek me.

I have paid them nothing.

They stayed with me for 9 years, and still do.

Friday, April 19
Mike02886

Unions benefit: Workers who don't fulfil their duties and have protection. Union leaders with high salary jobs.

If your in a union and do your job and fulfil what is expected of you your dues never benefit you. Look how much money unions spend to save jobs for workers who are negligent and useless. Mediation and arbitration add up. Knowing costs from a union leader from a worker who was cheating the company of money and resources for close to a decade were astronomical. Mediation was close to $3000. Arbitration and lawyers were over $29000. Never mind the hours of time from stewards and board members. That employee would have contributed around $31k over 30 years at $20 a week in dues. That doesn't even cover costs of trying to keep a sub par employee. Maybe each of us see unions in a different view. This is mine. Firsthand.

Friday, April 19
Jeanette Geary

Mike 02886:

You are exactly right:

1) The amount paid to Local officers, and note, this is ONLY the amount *reported* they are paid for holding a "Title" in the union is absurd.

2) As you aptly described a worker that does NOT do his job, as you work beside him and do yours, reaps the benefit of "protection" from the union. You work hard. They receive "support" and a free ride. And you pay for his ride.

And what's worse is members who begin to see and think about what is going on are too fearful to say anything. "I can't say anything in opposition to the union, I need this job." Well, help has arrived.

Many labor pro-union attorneys spend thousands of dollars "supporting" a sub par employee, as you have stated. This is another venue as to where the money goes.

AND what most union members do not realize is the millions of dollars that unions like UNAP collect, per year, and the dollars that are never accounted for except for what they declare they put in long term investment programs which members will never see, and the amounts that they give to political campaigns, which have nothing whatsoever to do with the members who are forced to give them their dues.

Clock_In4Decert@icloud.com OR Clock_In4Decert@yahoo.com

Saturday, April 20
Cat

I worked with union workers in my former job. Our technicians couldn't plug in a game. That was only a job for a union worker. No problem, right? Except that when the union worker didn't want to go onto their next task, they would disappear and go on the "break game" where you would have to run around trying to find them or another worker that could plug in the game for you so you could set it up. Go a few miles up to CT and work with the Gaming Commission and it was a different story. Sure, they sometimes had some internal issues but they were ready to help us out and move quickly because "time is money". We had an entirely different schedule for working in RI vs CT. 1 to 2 days in CT. Finished by Friday in RI.

I am all for protection and rights but when it is used to be lazy and entitled, count me out. I am not sure when it changed from being a body guard to a mob enforcer but it certainly isn't something I wish to be part of. I have a great job that rewards me for being a good worker, producing results and providing me with sick days, time off and other benefits. As long as I do my part, they do their part.

Monday, April 22
PhillipDrummond

What I have found is that people who don't want to pay dues and be part of the union still expect to get the same benefits, wages, and protections that the union has negotiated. They feel entitled to those benefits. You don't want to be part of the union and pay dues that's fine. Then you should have to negotiate your own wage, benefits, vacations etc. It's not fair to those union members who pay dues that someone who doesn't want to be in gets the same benefits.

Monday, April 22
Jeanette Geary

Cat,

I agree with your comments.

You aptly described part of the problem.

And, I feel financial transparency is a must for all members.

Tuesday, April 23
Jeanette Geary

PhillipDrummond:

"You don't want to be part of the union and pay dues that's fine."

EXACTLY!

There is no reason in the world why any working citizen in America should be forced to join a union, and pay dues, simply because the union says they must.

Do you realize unions will NOT allow someone who wants to work, not be a member of the union, and not pay any dues or fees to do so? I wonder why that is?

In Right to Work states this differs. Unions cannot force an employee to pay.

And I work in a hospital whereby there is no union, and we negotiate just fine.

"It's not fair to those union members who pay dues that someone who doesn't want to be in gets the same benefits."

After leaving a unionized hospital, and working in a right to work state my base pay increased by $10/hour, my manager's door is open, we have conversations, and on a personal one-to-one basis decisions are made based upon an employee's needs, and the department's needs. In other words, if I really need a day off, I don't call out, I do my job, I receive it. My negotiations are based upon my productivity, and then rewarded if a personal need arises.

And my raises are based upon my productivity. In other words, since my work was superior this past year, I received a substantial bonus at Christmas, and have received 2 raises in the past 12 months. Why should someone who is not as productive receive the same raise as I simply because they are in a union??

And as senior staff I have the ability to sign up for the schedule 1st, and there are other benefits. Why should someone who just walked-in the door, and is new on the job receive the same benefits I do? Or higher pay on hire?

With unions there is little to no differentiation between workers, other than, the person next to me who doesn't make as much effort is "protected" by the union, and still gets a raise and benefits!

But my REAL concern is the unions lack of financial transparency. UNAP collects MILLIONS of dollars every year, states they need the money to negotiate a contract every 2 years. And why? Who gets paid during or for the negotiation? Claims they spent around $22,000 on "legislation" that always has the caveat that it is exempt if the hospital has needs, and where is the rest of the millions of dollars that UNAP collects every year?

My suit was based upon UNAP's decision for lack of financial transparency, they lied to me about dues and fees, and refused to respond to my questions. I won. That tells me something.

Clock_In4Decert@icloud.com OR Clock_In4Decert@yahoo.com

Tuesday, April 23
PhillipDrummond

First off I take great offense to the notion that union members are lazy. My fellow brothers and sisters take great pride in our work and work our tails off for both the company and our customers. Sure there are a few knuckleheads like there are in non union shops but the union deals with them.

Secondly I love how you like to cherry pick phrases that you feel bolster your position but don't quote the second half of the sentence taking things out of context. Like I said if an individual wants to opt out then they should but they should have to negotiate their own compensation package. That's not what happens now though is it? In right to work states people can opt out of paying the union but get to enjoy the benefits and protections that the union has negotiated for FREE. How is that fair? and like I said these people feel that these benefits are entitled to them. If a person has opted out of the union and gets in any sort of trouble the union is obligated to represent them and if that same person feels the union didn't represent them to the fullest then that person has the ability to put in a complaint against the union, is that fair? My family and I enjoy great healthcare at a fraction of the cost. Something that the union negotiated for. Should someone who opted out of the union get the same? Vacations, wages and schedule are all based on seniority. No one who just started gets the same pay, schedule or vacation days as someone who has been there for 15 years. When I call out, it's my decision if I want to get paid for it or not.

Thirdly and finally unions should be transparent with how the money is spent, if the officers don't want to be transparent you vote them out. You work within the union to get that transparency and if they don't comply you work to Vote. Them. Out. At its core the union is a democracy and if enough people don't like what's going on you vote them out. When it comes to political activities people should have a say in where their money goes, If I am conservative I don't want my money going to some liberal cause and vice versa but that's something I would try to work within the union to change. I would never try to bust the union which is what it sounds like and you're trying to do and use the guise of transparency to go about it. Unions have been great for this country. They have given us 40 hour work weeks, OT pay, healthcare, work breaks, paid vacations, weekends, and many other things that are now considered basic things needed in the work place. I respect the blood, sweat, and tears that those before me lost to get the benefits we ALL now enjoy. I would never want to bust up the union. Just change how it goes about its business in some aspects.

Tuesday, April 23
Jim

So in a nutshell your a fascist that believes corporations should have rule over your job and life? If your boss fires you tomorrow because they don't like you look what is your recourse?

Tuesday, April 23
Jim

"like the way you look"

Tuesday, April 23
Jeanette Geary

PhillipDrummond:

I'm going to make a final comment here in order to state what is true for me.

I'm not one to argue endlessly. Believe it or not I tend to be a very gentle, loving, compassionate person.

So as to your remarks:

1) I never stated or implied that the individuals you work with are lazy. I was having a conversation with another person who has experienced the same as I.

2) I never stated that those who opt out should be covered by the union contract. I feel anyone who does not want to belong to a union in any organization, any where, should not pay dues, and therefore, not be part of the bargaining unit or be covered by the contract.

Where I work there are various pay grades, jobs, responsibilities, and titles, We are all paid differently, and some with different benefits. There is no reason why a union in an organization MUST represent all employees..

3) You have stated and I agree that members should be able to vote out the union if they do not agree with what the union is doing with their money. Fact: You CANNOT vote out a union. If you attempt to do so the union will block your attempt, and you will end up going to court. Once a union is in an organization it stays there forever, well after those who "voted in" the union are retired or gone.

I do feel that prior to every contract there SHOULD be a vote by members to determine if the union should continue to represent them. Unions will NOT allow this.

If you attempt a decertification vote they will block it, and you will end up in court for simply wanting the vote.

4) You and I agree that unions should be transparent regarding their finances. They aren't. I almost fell off my chair when I found out what portion of dues goes to political elections and campaigns having nothing to do with the organization from which the dues were collected.

This is EXACTLY why I won my case. Lack of transparency, and refusal to abide by the law regarding the Beck Letter.

5) I am NOT a union buster. I am someone who feels this:

No one should be forced to be a member of the union and/or collective bargaining contract. There is no reason in the world why an individual cannot work in an organization absent being represented by a union.

I totally honor your decision. There is no reason why I should be forced to be represented by a union, or covered by their contract. You feel I am stating that I should be covered by the contract if I withdraw membership. That is NOT true. I feel anyone should be able to withdraw from the union, and therefore NOT be covered by the contract.

Unions need to be transparent. Not the little self-audit they give you, but the REAL numbers as to where all the money goes. Unions refuse this information. You really need to search to find the truth of this.

Elections should be held before each contract negotiation to allow the members to decide if they want the union to continue to represent them. Unions currently will NOT allow this.

And at any time a member wants to leave the union or no longer be part of the contract they should be allowed to do so. Unions refuse this.

I'll let you have the last word, because I have received good response from this, and I'm going to spend my time with those who feel as I do, and want to see the changes necessary that are fair and in good order.

Peace.

Jeanette

Tuesday, April 23
Jeanette Geary

Jim,

"your a fascist"

I don't respond to name calling in my personal, professional, or public life.

Tuesday, April 23