Ron Taylor, a Clark County middle school teacher, upset his bosses. He raised questions about how they were spending their money. He complained about the health care benefits they set up. Worst of all, he tried to recruit some of his fellow teachers to join a union — the Teamsters — and have it certified as their bargaining agent.
That was it. They threw him out.
Mr. Taylor went to the Local Government Employees-Management Relations Board, complaining he’d been subjected to unfair labor practices.
And last week, he prevailed. The respondents had subjected the teacher to “prohibited labor practices,” the board ruled. It’s illegal to “restrain or coerce anyone of their right” to organize for or join a union — any union — the board ruled. Mr. Taylor’s expulsion could have “a chilling effect” on others who wish to criticize their bosses.
Those bosses also showed “personal animosity” toward him and never tried to work with him to resolve his concerns, the board ruled.
Not only must Mr. Taylor be reinstated, with all the typical fringe benefits (malpractice insurance, even discounted movie tickets) but respondents must reimburse him for his expenses in fighting his expulsion — as much as $10,000, since they stretched out what would normally be a 90-day hearing process over two years by hiring a law firm to file counterclaims.
Wow. Sounds like the administrators of the Clark County School District got caught red-handed interfering with a teacher’s right to ask questions and organize a union, didn’t they?
Um … no.
The outfit that’s now ordered to reimburse Mr. Taylor his $10,000 and reinstate him with full privileges of membership is the Clark County Education Association — the teacher union.
And because the board found the union guilty of “prohibited labor practices,” the ruling must be publicly posted — Mr. Taylor says he’ll put it “on every union bulletin board in every school in Clark County.”
CCEA Executive Director John Jasonek says the case is about the right of a union to expel a hostile member, and that the union plans to appeal. Mr. Taylor responds the union may have trouble finding grounds for an appeal, since it stipulated to the facts before the state board.
In terms of the principles involved, Mr. Jasonek of the union is right. Unions are (or ought to be) private outfits. The right to free association means an organization should be free to boot any member they find hostile to their goals and operations.
The problem is that current labor law constitutes a massive maze of interferences with and exceptions to the rights of free association and voluntary contract — and that the unions, having helped cobble together this convoluted legal rabbit trap in ways designed to benefit them, usually like it that way.
Which perhaps justifies a brief smile when one of those self-righteous outfits, always mewling about the “right to organize,” finds itself hoist by its own petard.
What’s to be afraid of, guys? If some of your members think the Teamsters could get them a better deal, call for a secret vote. Let the best union win.
It’s surely not about the money, is it?