Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Texas Attorney General Abbott Enforces State's Right-to-Work Law in El Paso caseEL PASO – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today took legal action against a labor organization and an El Paso employer for unlawfully forcing workers to join a labor union. The Attorney General is seeking a permanent injunction against the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA), Local 725, and Deco-Akal, JV and related affiliates, which provide security services to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Service Processing Center in El Paso.
The Attorney General seeks to prevent the defendants from enforcing unlawful contractual provisions against former, current and future employees who refuse to join a union or pay membership dues as a condition of employment.
“The law guarantees important right-to-work protections for Texas workers,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Texans have the right to work without having to join a labor union or pay union dues. The Office of the Attorney General will aggressively enforce Texas’ right-to-work laws and will take all necessary measures to protect workers’ freedom from compulsory union membership.”
According to the Attorney General’s enforcement action, the SPFPA and Deco-Akal entered into an unlawful collective bargaining agreement that violates Texas’ right-to-work laws. Their unlawful contract required Deco-Akal employees to join the union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. The Texas Labor Code prohibits employers from denying employment to workers who decline to join or make payments to a labor union.
SPFPA officials have falsely claimed that Deco-Akal’s El Paso facility fell exclusively within federal jurisdiction. However, in June, a federal administrative law judge ruled against SPFPA, holding instead that the property was not a federal enclave. The judge’s order stems from Deco-Akal’s indefinite suspension of Juan Vielma, a security guard who refused to pay his contractually mandated SPFPA membership dues. The ruling ordered Deco-Akal to reinstate Vielma and pay back his lost wages and benefits.
Today’s enforcement action also seeks civil penalties against SPFPA up to $1,000 per violation and reimbursement to employees for any fees employees paid under the unlawful agreement.