Nurse Pushes Agency to Close 2009 Case

Petition asks court to force labor arbiter to end 'unreasonable delays' in union lobbying complaint

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A Rhode Island nurse is asking a federal court to help settle a 2009 complaint about her union's lobbying expenses and dues disclosures.

Jeanette Geary and her attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation are asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to speed along the decade-old case. The mandamus petition—the first case filed to the court in 2019—says that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has unreasonably delayed ruling in the case. Geary claims that the United Nurses and Allied Professionals union improperly used agency fees—partial dues which are not allowed to pay for political activities—to cover lobbying expenses in states across the northeast and failed to properly follow transparency guidelines about dues expenditures. The delays have prevented her from recovering any portion of improper payments.

"The hearing record revealed that UNAP used Geary's compulsory dues to engage in extensive legislative and political activity in the states of Rhode Island and Vermont," the petition says. "She has been waiting for nearly eight years for the NLRB to issue a final and judicially-reviewable decision."

A spokeswoman for the agency said the NLRB does not comment on ongoing litigation.

The National Labor Relations Board under President Barack Obama initially sided with the union in 2012. That decision was rendered invalid, however, after the Supreme Court found that Obama unconstitutionally used his recess powers to appoint two labor lawyers to the board. Geary and the Foundation have been pushing for the board to review case documents and re-issue a ruling. The mandamus petition would allow the Republican-controlled board to weigh in on the decision.

"Despite the confirmation of three validly appointed Board Members in August 2013 and a continuously valid quorum of Members since then, more than five years have passed with no action taken on Geary's exceptions," the petition says. "It is well past time for the NLRB to issue a judicially-reviewable decision."

Foundation spokesman Patrick Semmens told the Washington Free Beacon that he expects a different outcome from an NLRB composed of Trump appointees. He accused the agency of "stalling on a ruling" in Geary's case.

"Court precedent is clear that even in states without Right to Work laws making all union financial support voluntary, union bosses cannot force non-members to financially support union political activity," he said. "The Obama Board ignored all of those precedents, but the current Board must stop enabling Big Labor's abuses through inaction and finally issue a clear ruling to uphold employees' legal protections against being forced to fund union lobbying activities."

United Nurses and Allied Professionals did not respond to request for comment.

The petition asks that the NLRB issue a final decision in the case within 45 days of any court order.

Bill McMorris   Email Bill | Full Bio | RSS
Bill McMorris is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He joins the Beacon from the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, where he was managing editor of Old Dominion Watchdog. He was a 2010 Robert Novak Fellow with the Phillips Foundation, where he studied state pension shortfalls. His work has been featured on CNN, Fox News, The Economist, Colbert Report, and numerous print publications and radio stations. He lives in Alexandria, Va, with his wife and three daughters. His Twitter handle is @FBillMcMorris. His email address is mcmorris@freebeacon.com.

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