Labor Relations Today

Labor Relations Today

Muskegon Family Care Settles ULPs

Posted in NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Unfair Labor Practices, Unions

Earlier this week, Muskegon Family Care settled several unfair labor practice charges filed by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) after Muskegon terminated four employees earlier this year.  While the terms of the settlement were not made immediately available, a spokesperson for the union stated that the terminated employees would receive undisclosed sums of money, as well as neutral employment references.

The unfair labor practice charges were filed by the union back in March, after the four employees were allegedly retaliated against and terminated for looking into unionizing. 

While this case has settled, AFSCME officials state that they are still regularly receiving calls from Muskegon employees looking to unionize.  Without going into specifics, the official implicitly encouraged the employees to continue their efforts, noting that unionizing could ‘improve their working conditions.’

The union campaign still appears to be in its infancy since AFSCME has not filed an election petition.  However, we will be watching this effort here closely, so stay tuned.

 

ALJ Nixes Another Arbitration Agreement

Posted in NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Unfair Labor Practices

Earlier this week, a National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge held that Ross Stores Inc. violated the National Labor Relations Act by maintaining an unlawful arbitration agreement.  In pertinent part, Judge Pollack ruled that Ross ran afoul of the Act by forcing employees to sign an arbitration agreement that prohibited employees from pursuing either class or collective actions against the retailer.

The decision should come as no surprise to labor watchers, as just last week two different ALJs struck down unlawful arbitration agreements prohibiting collective and class actions.  In this case, Judge Pollack reasoned that Ross’ agreement was unlawful in light of the Board’s controversial D.R. Horton decision from 2012. 

“It is undisputed that the arbitration policy prohibits class actions in both judicial and arbitral forums,” Judge Pollack said. “Respondent required employees to agree to the arbitration policy as a condition of employment. Accordingly, I find that respondent’s maintenance of the arbitration policy violates [the NLRA] as set forth in D.R. Horton.”

While the Board still considers D.R. Horton to be good law, the Fifth Circuit does not.  But the Board chose not to appeal the Fifth Circuit’s decision overruling the Board’s determination that class waivers violate the Act, so the Supreme Court will not have the opportunity to weigh in for now. 

In the meantime, employers would be wise to carefully review their employee handbooks, as well as any dispute resolution agreements between themselves and their employees, to ensure that those policies comply with the National Labor Relations Act.  Based on the fact that we have seen three arbitration agreements struck down in the past week, it can be surmised that an arguably unlawful policy will bring with it the specter of an unfair labor practice charge.

FairPoint Strikers Accused Of Illegal Tactics

Posted in NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Unfair Labor Practices, Unions

Earlier this week, FairPoint Communications officials located in northern New England accused its striking workers of not playing fair.  The more than 1,700 striking employees, represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), have allegedly intimidated contractors and regular FairPoint employees with their threatening behavior.  The strikers have also been accused of attempting to jam the company’s phones in order to disrupt its local call centers.

In a statement, the unions denied the company’s allegations and reiterated that strikers have the right to picket the work sites as long as they are not disrupting work.

“We will continue to work hard to ensure that our labor action is safe and respectful to our neighbors and friends throughout northern New England, but we will not let the company use these spurious and unfounded allegations to take the spotlight off of the company’s unfair practices,” the unions responded in a statement.

The strikers have also accused the company of bargaining in bad faith and have asked the NLRB to order FairPoint back to the bargaining table.  We will be watching for that decision to issue, so stay tuned.

 

ALJs Signal That D.R. Horton Is Alive And Well

Posted in NLRA, NLRB, NLRB Administration, Quick Hits, Uncategorized, Unfair Labor Practices, Unions

At the end of last week, two separate National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judges determined that two separate employer-promulgated arbitration agreements were unlawful.  The reader may recall the Board’s now-infamous D.R. Horton ruling, which effectively held that an employer violates the National Labor Relations Act by forcing employees to sign an arbitration agreement that would prevent that employee from bringing either a class or collective action.  In these two cases, the ALJs found that Bristol Farms and AWG Ambassador LLC ran afoul of that decision.

In the Bristol Farms decision, Judge Thompson reasoned that Bristol violated the Act by maintaining an arbitration policy that “employees reasonably would believe bars or restricts their right to file charges” with the NLRB.  While Bristol argued that D.R. Horton‘s precedent should not apply becuase the agreement did not contain an express class waiver, Judge Thompson still nixed the offending policy because hte company applied it in such a way as to restrict employees from bringing class complaints. 

AWG’s arbitration agreement, by contrast, explicitly violated the D.R. Horton ruling because it contained an express class waiver.  And like several employers before them, AWG tried to avoid an unfair labor practice determination by arguing that D.R. Horton was wrongly decided.  The argument was unavailing.

“[AWG] argues that D.R. Horton was wrongly decided and has been widely rejected. Essentially, the respondent argues it should be overruled,” Judge Laws said in the AWG ruling. “Any arguments regarding the legal integrity of board precedent, however, are properly addressed to the board.”   

We will be following both of these decisions closely and will keep you posted if either case goes before the full Board.  Stay tuned. 

 

Basketball Players Union Brings In New GC

Posted in Negotiations, Quick Hits, Unions

The New York Times is reporting that the NBA Players Association has hired a new General Counsel.  As the reader may recall, the NBAPA has had a big year already.  The union fired its last chief after an investigation revealed certain improprieties.  Now sporting a new president, the union has hired Gary Kohlman as its top lawyer.

Kohlman is well-known across the labor sphere, having represented such entities as the United Steelworkers and the Service Employees International Union as a trial lawyer in Washington, D.C.  More recently, Kohlman argued on behalf of Northwestern’s football players during their union election hearing.

Kohlman will begin his new job at the beginning of November.  While the players’ current collective bargaining agreement does not expire until 2017, it can be expected that Kohlman will still hit the ground running.  With the NBA having recently inked a massive television deal, it is likely that he and his team will begin crunching how the players impact those numbers in preparation for the upcoming CBA negotiations.

FairPoint Workers Hit The Pickets

Posted in Negotiations, Quick Hits, Unions

Union members working for FairPoint Communications across New England hit the pickets this morning after the company refused to come back to the bargaining table.  The employees, represented in negotiations by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communication Workers of America (CWA), offered “significant concessions” in their most recent offer, but to no avail.

“The company is not willing to negotiate on anything, so we felt that we’ve exhausted all of our options and this company has no interest in reaching an agreement. They’ve really backed us into a corner. We have no choice but to strike,” said Jenn Nappi, assistant business manager with CWA Local 2327.

Negotiations between the parties began in April and ended abruptly in August when the company declared an impasse and subsequently imposed its last, best, and final offer.  We will keep you posted as this dispute continues to unfold.

More on this story can be found here:

 

 

IL Teachers’ Strike Enters Second Week

Posted in Negotiations, Quick Hits, Unions

Teachers in Waukegan, Illinois will hit the pickets for the ninth school day in a row.  Negotiations between the school board and teachers’ union officials took place yesterday, but broke down with no signs of a deal nearing.

A spokesperson for the teachers’ union slammed the school board, claiming that no board members have attended any of the negotiations thus far. 

“There would be no point in caving in to demands that our members on the line wouldn’t accept,” said Teachers Local 504 President Kathy Schwarz in a news release. “All that would do is delay the process even further because if it were voted down, we would be back at square one with the district. The board must know this. We need the board to come back to the table with a substantive proposal that recognizes the dedication and service of our teachers. The public showed that they understand this, we need to board to listen to the voices of the community it serves.”

For its part, board members have accused the teachers of using local students as “pawns.”

With no new negotiations scheduled, the strike could drag on for days or even weeks.  We will keep you posted.

Truckers Reinstated Pending Outcome Of Labor Dispute

Posted in Federal Court Litigation, NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Unfair Labor Practices, Unions

Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Philip S. Gutierrez ordered Green Fleet Systems to reinstate two Los Angeles Harbor-based truckers who allege they were terminated in the midst of a labor dispute.  The Judge’s Order requires Green Fleet to reinstate the two workers during the pendency of proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.  In the Board case, the company has been accused of over 50 separate violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

In particular, the two reinstated truckers allege that they were retaliated against by Green Fleet for engaging in union activity and for lobbying for better wages.  A spokesman for the Teamsters Union trumpeted the ruling:

“This sends a message throughout the Port of Los Angeles and the shipping industry that misclassified drivers are in fact employees,” said Julie Gutman Dickinson, the attorney for the truckers and the Teamsters Union port division.

The company has denied the allegations in previous statements.  We will be watching this dispute unfold and will keep you posted.

CWA Files ULP Charges Against SEIU

Posted in NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Unfair Labor Practices, Unions

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging in pertinent part that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has been contracting out union work in the run-up to the November elections.  The CWA represents employees who work for the SEIU’s Local 1021, which is very politically active in Northern California.  This election season, according to the CWA, Local 1021 has contracted out union labor to temporary workers and consultants.  Needless to say, the CWA is not pleased.

“We oppose, and we challenge, and we picket, and then our own union is contracting out our jobs,” said Daz Lamparas, the CWA shop steward who filed the original complaint in July. CWA Local 9404 represents the organizers and other staff at SEIU Local 1021.   

An SEIU spokesperson has denied the charges.  Interestingly, the NLRB’s San Francisco regional director ordered the dispute to arbitration.  The CWA will have the ability to request that the RD review any award that is rendered.

UAW Hit With ULP Charges

Posted in NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Unfair Labor Practices, Unions

Last week, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed unfair labor practice charges against the United Auto Workers union on behalf of a truck driver who alleged that the union has been trying to stop her from exercising her right not to join the union.  In a statement filed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the employee claimed that union officials told her that she could had to show up to the local office and give officials a photo ID before they would consider her request to resign her membership and not pay union dues.

If true, these allegations are particularly troubling for the UAW because Michigan is a “right to work state.”  Accordingly, no one can be compelled to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.

“Across the state, union officials are pulling out all the stops to keep workers from exercising their rights under Michigan’s Right to Work law,” Mark Mix, the foundation’s president, said in the statement. “UAW union officials’ latest tactic to show up in person and furnish photo identification is designed to dissuade or intimidate workers from exercising their rights to refrain from membership.”

Stay tuned to @LRToday as we will keep you posted throughout the investigation process.