Labor Relations Today

Labor Relations Today

Democrats Support Quickie Election Rules

Posted in Federal Court Litigation, NLRB, Quick Hits, Senate, Unions

Yesterday, 16 Senate Democrats sent a letter to Mark Gaston Pearce, the Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, urging him to “vigorously defend” the Board’s controversial quickie election procedures.  Issued last month, the “quickie election” rules are designed to cut down the time between the filing of an election petition to a vote to as little as eleven days.

In the letter, the 16 Democrats underscore how important they believe the new rules to be:

“Reports indicate this rule will likely be challenged in court by those who oppose workers efforts to unionize,” the senators wrote. “We believe this rule will restore balance and certainty to the union election process and strongly encourage you to vigorously defend this rule in the face of such challenges.”

While Democrats believe the new rule will “level the playing field” by preventing companies from delaying elections, employers believe the rule unfairly constricts their ability to discuss the unionization process with their employees.

We have been following the quickie election rules since they were first discussed almost five years ago.  Stay tuned to @LRToday, where we will offer in-depth analysis of the rules as their April implementation date creeps closer.

Teamsters Lose FedEx Election

Posted in NLRB, Quick Hits, Representation Elections, Unions

Yesterday, a representative for FedEx Corp issued a statement announcing that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Teamsters) lost a union election at FedEx Freight’s Charleston, WV facility.  The election was conducted on January 15, but the vote count was delayed while the parties hashed out which workers were actually eligible to vote.

In a further sign that the Teamsters are losing influence with FedEx employees, the union also withdrew a union election petition from another facility.

The company welcomed the news:

“FedEx Freight drivers continue to reject the union and demonstrate their strong preference for a direct relationship with the company,” the company said in a statement.

In late 2014, the Teamsters were voted in at three separate FedEx facilities.  Since then, however, they have withdrawn six petitions and lost four other elections.

More on this story can be found here:

Gov. Haley To Highlight IAM Organizing In State Of The State Address

Posted in NLRB, Quick Hits, Unions

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is expected to use her upcoming “State of the State” address to highlight the International Association of Machinists’ (IAM) ongoing campaign to unionize employees working for The Boeing Company in South Carolina.  According to reports, Governor Haley will devote about 500 words to the IAM’s efforts, which includes the following thoughts about the state being largely union-free:

“I cannot express to you the extent to which this is a game-changer when we are trying to bring new businesses to our state,” her speech says. “We have a reputation — internationally — for being a state that doesn’t want unions. … Now, that reputation and, even more importantly, a South Carolina company, are under attack.”

South Carolina and Boeing are no strangers to the IAM.  The union represents Boeing workers at its facility in Washington, and in 2011 sought to halt the development of Boeing’s Charleston facility.  Gov. Haley is also quite familiar with the IAM, as she has previously been sued by them for speaking out against their organizing tactics.

More on this story can be found here:

 

 

Accusations Of Slowdowns At Port Of Los Angeles

Posted in Negotiations, Quick Hits, Uncategorized, Unions

Yesterday, employers at the Port of Los Angeles accused their unionized dockworker employees of instituting a labor slowdown.  This latest incident between the parties has brought major national scrutiny to the long-running labor dispute because container ships have been forced to sit idle while they wait for crews to unload their cargo.

While the Pacific Maritime Association blames the union, the International Longshore Workers Union blames the employer for the backlog.  However, it can hardly be called a coincidence that as soon as the parties hit a snag during their most recent collective-bargaining negotiations, work at the port began to slow considerably.

A federal mediator has gotten involved in the parties’ dispute, which centers primarily around what the dockworkers believe to be substandard wages.

More on this story can be found here:

PLU Adjuncts Withdraw Union Petition

Posted in NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Representation Elections, Unions

Earlier this week, adjunct faculty members working at Pacific Lutheran University voluntarily withdrew a petition to hold a union election.  The election saga has taken place over the course of a year and a half, with the faculty voting back in the fall of 2013 on whether to join a labor union for the purpose of collective representation. 

After the election, PLU lodged objections to the proceedings, arguing that it was immune from the National Labor Relations Board’s jurisdiction because it was a religious school.  Accordingly, the ballots were impounded. 

Even though the Board recently decided that adjunct faculty at schools like PLU should be allowed to organize as long as their job duties are not explicitly religious, the faculty members still withdrew the petition because of the uncertainty surrounding the election results.  At present, it is known that 30 faculty voted in favor of joining a union, 54 faculty voted against, and 38 ballots are currently being challenged.

We have been watching this campaign, as well as other adjunct faculty campaigns, closely.  Stay tuned to @LRToday for pertinent updates.

NFIB and ABC Join Fight Against NLRB’s ‘Quickie Election’ Rule by Filing Suit in Texas

Posted in Expedited Elections, Federal Court Litigation, NLRA, NLRB, NLRB Rule-Making, Representation Elections

On Tuesday, January 13, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Texas, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Texas and the Central Texas Chapter of ABC filed a joint lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas against the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) challenging the NLRB’s recently issued election rule expediting union representation elections. The Texas lawsuit comes on the heels of another lawsuit challenging the new election rule filed by business groups, including the US Chamber of Commerce, in the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The Texas complaint alleges that:

the new Rule makes sweeping changes in pre-eelction and post-election procedures that depart from the plain language and legislative history of the Act and exceed the Board’s statutory authority. The evident purpose of the changes is to achieve the impermissible pro-union objective of accelerating the election process to such an extent that employers will be unable to respond effectively to union organizing campaigns. The new Rule achieves this result by preventing employers in most cases from exercising their statutory rights to appropriate hearings regarding voting eligibility, and by shortening the election period so that employers have no meaningful opportunity to lawfully communicate with affected employees about their electoral rights.

Similar to the DC lawsuit, the Texas lawsuit claims that the Board provided no adequate justification for overruling “decades of Board and judicial precedent that preserved a careful balance of employer, employee, and union rights in the election process.” It also alleges that the new rule will deprive employers of “their rights to appropriate hearings and due process relating to the conduct of pre-election and post-election proceedings.”

Given that the new rule goes into effect on April 14, 2015, we expect the plaintiffs in both lawsuits to move expeditiously in an effort to get a ruling from the courts prior to that date. Stay tuned to our blog, our Twitter feed (@LRToday), and our Flipboard magazine for additional details and updates.

LA Port Truckers Join Teamsters

Posted in Negotiations, NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Unions

Truck drivers working for Shippers Transport Express at the Port of Los Angeles have jointed the Teamsters Union.  Unlike the NLRB’s typical process, which requires employees to vote on whether to join a union, Shippers Transport Express voluntarily recognized the Teamsters after the union was able to show that it had garnered the support of the majority of the company’s employees via signed authorization cards. 

The campaign was also somewhat atypical in that the parties agreed to a “neutrality agreement” throughout the process.  Essentially, the Teamsters agreed not to disparage the company or engage in strikes or picketing, while the company agreed not to threaten or intimidate employees regarding their decision whether to join a union.

Once the Board certifies the union as the employees’ collective bargaining representative, the parties will have to sit down and hash out a collective bargaining agreement.  Stay tuned to @LRToday for updates.

Kaiser Permanente Employees On Strike In CA

Posted in Negotiations, Quick Hits, Unions

Yesterday, approximately 100 Kaiser Permanente employees working in Anaheim, CA walked off the job and went on strike in order to protest low staffing ratios in the company’s medical centers.  The employees, represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, are expected to be joined throughout the week by other Kaiser Permanente employees throughout California.  In total, almost 2,600 employees across 35 locations are expected to participate in strike actions this week.

The union, which represents Kaiser’s California-based mental health professionals, has been negotiating with the company since 2009 over a collective bargaining agreement for the represented employees.  Apart from worker complaints about staffing ratios, the union has also stated that its charges are underpaid and overworked while the hospital rakes in the profits, which a hospital official has categorically denied.

More on this story can be found here:

Labor Relations Today Releases ‘Labor Law 2014: A Year in Review’

Posted in Alternative Labor Law Reform, Amici Briefs, Bush Board Reversal, Corporate Campaigns, Department of Labor, Executive Orders, Expedited Elections, Federal Court Litigation, Government Contracting, Government Contracts, House of Representatives, Legislation, Micro Units, Negotiations, NLRA, NLRB, NLRB Administration, NLRB Decisions, NLRB Rule-Making, Persuader Rules, Presidential Appointments, Remedies, Representation Elections, SCOTUS, Senate, Social Media, State/Local Issues, Unfair Labor Practices, Unions, White House

2014LaborLawMLA labor attorneys are pleased to announce the publication of Labor Law 2014: A Year In Review. This marks the fourth straight year that we have produced this annual review of developments in traditional labor law and labor-management relations.

2014 ushered in a National Labor Relations Board with more prospective stability than in recent years as the seats of all five members and the general counsel were filled with Senate-confirmed occupants. A cloud of uncertainty hung over the previous Board’s legacy, however, as the Supreme Court had yet to address the issue on appeal from the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia in the Noel Canning case—i.e., whether the Board had a valid quorum during 2012 and early 2013.

With the legitimacy of hundreds of decisions hanging in the balance, as we predicted in our 2013 Year in Review, the new Board and general counsel nevertheless charted the same pro-labor course as its constitutionally deficient predecessor. Comprised of three Democrats and two Republicans, the 2014 Board continued its recent trend of expanding union protections at the expense of management rights to run a business enterprise. As Democrat Member Nancy Schiffer’s term concluded at the end of the year, the Board only picked up the intensity of its efforts, issuing case decisions and new rules that both depart drastically from long-standing precedent and serve to facilitate union organizing in the private sector.

Heading into 2015, the Board appears as determined as ever to advance its agenda, checked only
by the incoming Republican Congress and judicial review. Against this backdrop, we
submit this Year in Review  to summarize the most noteworthy developments of 2014. We hope you find it a helpful resource as we head into what will undoubtedly be another active year in labor-management relations.

Click here to order hard copies of Labor Law 2014: A Year in Review.

FairPoint Mediator Issues Gag Order

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

Negotiations between FairPoint and the two unions representing more than 1,700 employees have been placed under a gag order by a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation service.  With the talks between the employer on one side and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) on the other now taking place in secret, FairPoint’s employees are at a loss as to any progress potentially being made.

As we have reported here previously, FairPoint’s employees have been on strike since October 2014, when the company declared an impasse at the bargaining table and instituted its best and final offer, which replaced the employee pension plan with a 401(k).  The company’s best and final offer also now requires employees to contribute more to their health benefits plan.

Talks between the parties are set to continue in Washington, D.C.  In the interim, the National Labor Relations Board has dismissed the unions’ charge that FairPoint bargained with the unions in bad faith.  An appeal of that dismissal is pending.