Tuesday, July 24, 2007

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Texas Attorney General Abbott Enforces State's Right-to-Work Law in Corpus Christi case

CORPUS CHRISTI – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today took legal action against a labor organization and a Corpus Christi 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 727 and Asset Protection and Security Services, L.P. The company provides services to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Los Fresnos Detention Facility, also known as the Port Isabel Service Processing Center in Bayview.

The Attorney General seeks to prevent Asset Protection and Security Services from enforcing similar unlawful contractual provisions against former, current and future employees who refuse to join a union or pay membership dues as a condition of employment.

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Attorney General's lawsuit against Asset Protection and Security Services

“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 Asset Protection and Security Services entered into an unlawful collective bargaining agreement that violates Texas’ right-to-work laws. Their unlawful contract required Asset Protection and Security Services 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.

The Attorney General’s action stems from Asset Protection and Security Services’ employment threats against Carlos Banuelos, a company security guard, for not paying SPFPA membership dues. Company officials advised Banuelos to comply with the union’s demand for payment within 48 hours or face termination. In order to avoid termination, Banuelos complied with the unlawful demand.

In June, a federal administrative law judge halted a similar arrangement between the SPFPA and a company operating at an El Paso ICE facility. Today’s enforcement also action seeks civil penalties against SPFPA up to $1,000 per violation and reimbursement to employees for any fees employees paid under the unlawful agreement.