National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation

From SourceWatch
Jump to: navigation, search

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation or NRTWLDF (legally registered as the National Right to Work Legal Defense & Education Foundation Inc.) is an non-profit 501(c)3 organization that launches legal actions against labor organizations. Its mission is to "eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism abuses through strategic litigation, public information, and education programs."[1]

The Foundation works together with the National Right to Work Committee, which lobbies for anti-union legislation. The NRTWLDF was founded in 1968. They say: "The National Right to Work Committee was then active in Congress and state legislatures...but it was not structured to give legal aid. So by 1968, the time had come...rather than working in the legislative arena, such an organization could fight through the court system." [2]

Ties to the Bradley Foundation

Through 2016, NRTWLDF has received $1,161,500 from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

Bradley detailed the most recent grants in internal documents examined by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Below is a description of the grants prepared by CMD. The quoted text was written by Bradley staff.

2015: $100,000 to support general operations of this anti union organization, a primary backer of anti-union legislation at the state and federal level which defunds unions, to help weaken the left. This grant is to support this organization’s “pursuit of vindicating and expanding employee rights in the face of Big Labor’s infringements on them.”

2014: $75,000 to support general operations. NRTWLDF won a “resounding victory” in Washington state Davenport v. Washington Education Association and also won case in the Supreme Court in 2012, Knox v SEIU. “Bradley has always expressed a particular interest in combating coercive union power as exercised through the anti democratic ‘card check’ process… NRTWLDF’s litigation and other activities emphasize the same interest… With the help of attorneys from NRTWLDF and the Bradley supported Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, three Wisconsin civil servants asked the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals last year to uphold Gov. Scott Walker’s public sector union reform measures in Act 10… It is also fighting union only project labor agreements and ‘labor peace’ ordinances.”

2013: $75,000 to support general operations. “Its 17 in house attorneys are currently litigating almost 200 cases and administrative actions in all 50 states.” NRTWLDF “is trying to stop the threat of forced unionism in new employment sectors. New union targets include doctors, nurses, home care workers, graduate students, airport screeners, temp workers, charter school teachers and independent contractors.”

Bradley Files

In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.

Find the series here at ExposedbyCMD.org.

Ties to the Koch Brothers

Mark Mix, the Foundation's president, attended the June 2010 Koch Strategy Group Meeting. He spoke on a panel entitled "Mobilizing Citizens for November" along with Koch operative Sean Noble, Karl Crow of Themis, and Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity.[3]

According to Jane Mayer in her book Dark Money,

Fred Koch "was an early and active member of the Wichita-based DeMille Foundation for Political Freedom, an anti-labor group that was a forerunner of the National Right to Work Defense Foundation. In a revealing private letter, one of its staff members explained the group's "Astroturf" strategy. In reality, he said, big-business industrialists would run the group, serving as its "anonymous quarterbacks," and "call the turns." But he said they needed to sell the "yarn" that the group was "composed of housewives, farmers, small businessmen, professional people, wage earners-not big business industrialists." Otherwise, he admitted, the movement was "almost certainly doomed to failure.""[4]
Koch Wiki

The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.

2018 Janus vs. AFSCME Case

Janus vs. AFCME Council 31 was argued before the U. Supreme Court on February 26, 2018.[5] Mark Janus is a child support worker for the State of Illinois who does not want to pay the agency fees (also known as fair share fees) required to compensate the union representing Illinois state workers for the cost of his representation. Lawyers for the NRTWLDF argued this case before the Supreme Court and the Friedricks vs. California Teachers Association case that preceded it in 2016. These cases are part and parcel of a coordinated legislative and legal strategy to dismantle unions being advanced in a systematic manner by an interlocking group of right-wing funders and state-based groups. Learn more on the Janus vs. AFSCME Sourcewatch page.

The case did not originate with Mark Janus, but with billionaire venture capitalist and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. On the campaign trail, Rauner promised a Reaganesque showdown with the state’s public workers. Just weeks after being sworn-in in January 2015, Rauner blamed the state’s significant financial woes on public-sector unions, called for union membership to be voluntary, for the introduction of local level “right to work” ordinances, and for a repeal of prevailing wage laws that boost wages for construction workers. (Misnamed “right to work” laws allow workers in the private sector to free ride, leading to weaker unions and lower wages.)

Faced with a defiant Democratic legislature, Rauner acted unilaterally issuing an Executive Order[6] blaming budget deficits on public workers and fair share fees and directing Illinois to stop withholding and passing on the fees to unions. (Later before a friendly crowd at the Hoover Institute Rauner would admit his proposal had “nothing to dow with the budget.”)[7]

Rauner knew the unions would fight back in court, so he also filed a federal lawsuit, Rauner v. AFSCME, seeking to have his decision declared legal and hoping to move the issue rapidly to the friendly venue of the U.S. Supreme Court. Because the federal court found he did not have standing, a small group of effected workers were put forward as intervenors, including Mark Janus.

Rauner’s original lawsuit was advanced by the Illinois Policy Institute’s Liberty Justice Center. IPI is a $7 million member of both ALEC and SPN. IPI has also been funded by the Donors Capital and Donors Trust the preferred investment vehicle of the Koch network of funders. It has also been funded by family foundations of billionaire Richard Uihlein, and Rebekah Mercer. Plus, Rauner himself gave IPI $500,000 and poached some of its top staff in the early days of his administration. [8] Recently the Chicago Sun-Times called for a criminal investigation of the group for mixing for-profit and not-for-profit activities. Learn more on the Illinois Policy Institute Sourcewatch page. [9][10]

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation supplied the lawyers for most of the anti-union cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and they are now the lead attorney’s in the Janus case. The group was founded in 1968 and has a mission to "eliminate coercive union power.” The 501 C3 litigation group combined with its 501 C4 lobbying arm is a $15 million powerhouse, according to recently available IRS 990s. A member of the SPN network, it receives funding from the Koch-tied Donor’s Trust/Donors Capital investment vehicles and two of the biggest foundations working to privatize the public education system, the Bradley Foundation and the Walton Foundation. Learn more on the Janus vs. AFSCME Sourcewatch page.

Notable Supreme Court Cases

Other Cases

As of February 2014, the Foundation's 11 staff attorneys and network of hundreds of local attorneys nationwide were involved in nearly 300 legal actions nationwide in courts and administrative agencies, including the National Labor Relations Board.[13]

In March 2014, Foundation attorneys sued Volkswagen and the United Auto Workers in federal court in Chattanooga, Tennessee, alleging that VW violated the Labor Management Relations Act by providing "things of value" to UAW before an unsuccessful unionization vote.[14] The UAW challenged the results of the election with the NLRB, requesting a new election, and the Foundation is seeking an injunction to prevent VW from holding mandatory employee meetings about the election if there is another vote.[15]

Funding

NRTWLDF is not required to disclose its funders. Its major foundation funders, however, can be found through a search of the IRS filings. Here are some of the known funders:

Core Financials

2016[17]

  • Total Revenue: $5,093,633
  • Total Expenses: $6,013,795
  • Net Assets: $19,080,578

Grants Distributed

  • The Center on National Labor Policy: $25,000 for "litigation support"
  • Foundation for Applied Conservative Leadership: $30,000 for "general support"
  • National Institute for Labor Relations Research: $75,000 for "general support"

2015[18]

  • Total Revenue: $5,271,794
  • Total Expenses: $6,299,710
  • Net Assets: $19,197,860

Grants Distributed

  • National Institute for Labor Relations Research: $75,000 for "general support"
  • Illinois Policy Institute: $70,000 for "general support"
  • The Center on National Labor Policy: $45,000 for "general support and litigation support"
  • Foundation for Applied Conservative Leadership: $15,000 for "general support"

2014[19]

  • Total Revenue: $7,673,646
  • Total Expenses: $6,186,508
  • Net Assets: $20,446,032

Grants Distributed

  • National Institute for Labor Relations Research: $75,000 for "general support"
  • The Center on National Labor Policy: $34,500 for "general support and litigation support"
  • The Citadel Foundation: $10,000 for "general support"
  • Campaign for Liberty Foundation: $10,000 for "general support"

2013[20]

  • Total Revenue: $9,625,602
  • Total Expenses: $7,359,003
  • Net Assets: $19,053,684

Grants Distributed

  • National Institute for Labor Relations Research: $75,000 for "general support"
  • Employment Policies Institute: $50,000 for "general support"
  • Foundation for Michigan Freedom: $250,000 for "general support"
  • National Foundation for Gun Right: $8,000 for "general support"
  • Frederick Douglas Society: $10,000 for "support of educational conference presentation"

2012[21]

  • Total Revenue: $8,544,587
  • Total Expenses: $6,181,650
  • Net Assets: $15,574,359

Grants Distributed

  • National Institute for Labor Relations Research: $75,000 for "general support"
  • Great Lakes Education Foundation: $250,000 for "general support"

1991-2005

The Foundation received 85 grants totaling $4.54 million from conservative foundations between 1991 and 2005, including the Castle Rock Foundation, John M. Olin Foundation, Inc., and the Walton Family Foundation, according to Media Transparency.[22]

Personnel

As of July 2017:[17]

Leadership Team

View the complete list of Foundation litigators here.

Board of Trustees

Former Trustees:

Contact Information

National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
8001 Braddock Road
Springfield, Virginia 22160
Phone: (703) 321-8510 and (800) 336-3600
Fax: (703) 321-9613
Website: http://www.nrtw.org
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RightToWork<ref> Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NationalRightToWork/

Articles & Resources

IRS Form 990 Filings

2016

2015

2014

2013

References

  1. National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, "About," organization website, accessed May 6, 2014.
  2. "A Brief History of the Foundation", National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, accessed October 2007.
  3. Think Progress, "Secret Koch Meeting Documents," organization website, accessed May 8, 2014.
  4. Jane Mayer, [Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right], Jane Mayer, 2016.
  5. SCOTUS Blog, [1] Accessed February 15, 2018.
  6. Illinois.gov, [2] Accessed February 15, 2018.
  7. Hoover Institution, [3] Accessed February 15, 2018.
  8. Bernard Schoenburg, Bernard Schoenburg: Illinois Policy Institute got half million from Rauner, The State Journal-Register, November 7, 2013.
  9. Mick Dumke and Tina Sfondeles, Small-government think tank yields big bucks for nonprofit’s leaders, Chicago Sun Times, February 11, 2018.
  10. Editorial: Illinois Policy Institute nonprofit tax status begs for FBI probe, Chicago Sun Times, February 12, 2018.
  11. Amanda Becker, "U.S. justices wary of free-speech argument in union dues challenge," Reuters, January 21, 2014.
  12. Joel Rogers, "Why ‘Harris v. Quinn’ Has Labor Very, Very Nervous," The Nation, March 27, 2014.
  13. Gregory Heires, "Public-Employee Unions Targeted in Right-wing Case before the Supreme Court," The New Crossroads, February 3, 2014.
  14. Amanda Becker, "Anti-union workers sue Volkswagen, UAW over Tennessee plant," Reuters, March 13, 2014.
  15. Brent Snavely, "Anti-union group files federal lawsuit against UAW and Volkswagen," Detroit Free Press, March 13, 2014.
  16. Galbraith Foundation, 2012 IRS 990 Form, Galbraith Foundation, November 26, 2012.
  17. 17.0 17.1 National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, [on file at CMD 2016 IRS 990 Form], National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, July 27, 2017.
  18. National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, 2015 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, August 5, 2016.
  19. National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, 2014 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, July 30, 2015.
  20. National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, 2013 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, August 12, 2014.
  21. National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, 2012 Form 990, organizational annual IRS filing, May 6, 2014.
  22. Gregory Heires, "Public-Employee Unions Targeted in Right-wing Case before the Supreme Court," The New Crossroads, February 3, 2014.