Labor Relations Today

Labor Relations Today

NLRB Orders Employer to Repay Union’s Bargaining Costs

Posted in NLRB Decisions, Unfair Labor Practices

On April 14, 2014, the National Labor Relations Board issued an order in Fallbrook Hospital, 360 NLRB No. 73 (2014), modifying the remedy for an employer’s bad-faith bargaining conduct. The administrative law judge recommended, among other things, a 6-month extension of the certification union, but declined to grant the union’s request for reimbursement for its negotiation expenses. The Board, however, disagreed:

Having examined the record evidence of the [employer's] bad-faith bargaining conduct, we find … that both a full 1-year extension of the certification year pursuant to Mar-Jac Poultry, 136 NLRB 785 (1962), and an award of negotiating expenses are necessary to fully remedy the detrimental impact the Respondent’s unlawful conduct has had on the bargaining process.

The basis for the Board’s award was the fact that the employer “deliberately acted to prevent any meaningful progress during bargaining sessions that were held as:

  • the employer’s bargaining team failed to provide any proposals or counter-proposals during the first eight bargaining sessions until it received a full set of proposals from the Union;
  • left a bargaining session abruptly and without explanation;
  • left another bargaining session 3 minutes after arriving;
  • although the employer proffered some proposals during the next three bargaining sessions, it subsequently threatened that it would not continue bargaining if the Union persisted in encouraging employees’ use of the Union’s assignment despite obejction (ADO) form;
  • the employer then falsely claimed that the nurses’ use of the ADO forms caused the parties to be at impasse, refused to bargain further, and left the meeting after about 15 minutes; and
  • thereafter, the employer reaffirmed its refusal to bargain when it refused to respond to the Union’s requests for future bargaining dates.

As a result, the Board found that the employer’s misconduct:

infected the core of the bargaining process to such an extent that its effects cannot be eliminated by the mere application of our traditional remedy of an affirmative bargaining order. In these circumstances, requiring the [employer] to reimburse the Union’s negotiating expenses is also “warranted both to make the (Union) whole for the resources that were wasted because of the [employer's] unlawful conduct, adn to restore the economic strength that is necessary to ensure a return to the status quo ante at the bargaining table.”

Member Johnson disagreed with Chairman Pearce and Member Hirozawa’s award of negotiation expenses to the union, finding that the employer’s conduct was not so “unusually aggravted” as to “have infected the core of [the] bargaining process” as the misconduct of the employer in Frontier Hotel & Casino, 318 NLRB 857 (1998), where the Board similarly awarded negotiating expenses. The Board, however, unanimously agreed that requiring the employer to reimburse the union for its litigation expenses was not warranted, “as the defenses raised by the Respondent, although found to be without merit, were not frivolous.”

Sen. Alexander Rails Against ‘Biased’ NLRB

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

Katie Rufener of WREG-TV reports that Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has taken aim at both the United Auto Workers and the National Labor Relations Board in the wake of the UAW’s withdrawal of its appeal of the results of the February Volkswagen election.  In his comments, Sen. Alexander first called the appeal “a political side show.”  He further explained that the NLRB has been evincing a pro-union bias and ”should be an umpire, not an advocate” for the labor movement.

Sen. Alexander also plans on introducing legislation late this year to correct what he believes to be the Board’s continued pro-union bias.  “It’s tilted more than it ever has under the Obama administration, and I’d like to stop that tilt,” he said.

More on Sen. Alexander’s comments can be found here:

 

UAW Bows Out, Withdraws VW Election Challenge

Posted in NLRA, NLRB, Quick Hits, Representation Elections, Senate, Unfair Labor Practices, Unions

This morning, the United Auto Workers announced that they will be withdrawing their objections to this past February’s union election at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, TN plant.  Bob King, president of the UAW, cited TN Governor Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-TN) refusal to participate in the National Labor Relations Board’s investigation into the election.

“The unprecedented political interference by Gov. Haslam, Sen. Corker and others was a distraction for Volkswagen employees and a detour from achieving Tennessee’s economic priorities,” King said. “The UAW is ready to put February’s tainted election in the rearview mirror and instead focus on advocating for new jobs and economic investment in Chattanooga.”

More on the UAW/VW election can be found here:

SEIU Moves In On Media Matters

Posted in Uncategorized

The Daily Caller reports that Media Matters for America may well begin fighting an attempt by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to form a labor union at the media company.  The SEIU filed an election petition with the National Labor Relations Board last week.  In response, MM engaged a labor firm to assist the company during the organizing campaign.  MM has stated that it will be respecting its employees’ labor rights throughout the campaign process.

More on the Media Matters campaign can be found here:

 

Northwestern Issues Further Statement Criticizing RD’s Ruling

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

Northwestern University has released a statement emphasizing that the Regional Director ignored key evidence in ruling that football players at the University were employees subject to the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). As the reader is aware, the RD’s ruling effectively held that the football players could hold a union election, which is currently set for April 25 of this year. The statement, excerpted below, reasons that the RD was incorrect because football players are primarily students, not employees.

Northwestern is committed to ensuring the health, safety and well-being of all of its students, including its student-athletes. The University provides primary or secondary medical coverage for all of its student-athletes for at least a year after they no longer are eligible to participate in intercollegiate sports — and beyond if applicable. Athletic Department staff members also offer extensive support and personalized attention for all student-athletes in nutrition, health and exercise training.

The National Labor Relations Board has now received briefs from both the University and the College Athletes Players Association regarding the RD’s ruling. It is currently unknown when the Board will render its decision.

Further coverage of the NW union dispute can be found here:

Sen. Corker To Snub Board Subpoena

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

On the heels of yesterday’s announcement from TN Governor Bill Haslam’s office that the governor will ignore a subpoena from the National Labor Relations Board, the office of U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) has followed suit, stating that Sen. Corker will not be attending the NLRB hearing

“Everyone understands that after a clear defeat, the UAW is trying to create a sideshow, so we have filed a motion to revoke these baseless subpoenas,” said Todd Womack, Corker’s chief of staff. “Neither Sen. Corker nor his staff will attend the hearing on Monday.”

The TN. Attorney General’s office is still looking over the subpoenas, which have been issued in the United Auto Workers’ suit attempting to overturn its February election loss at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, TN.

More on the UAW/VW Dispute can be found here:

TN Gov To Ignore Board Subpoena

Posted in Quick Hits, Representation Elections, Senate

Mike Pare of the Times Free Press reports that Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is not planning on attending the National Labor Relations Board’s hearing in Chattanooga, TN next week, despite being subpoenaed by the United Auto Workers.  More than twenty Tennessee officials have been subpoenaed by the UAW in connection with its attempt to overturn February’s election loss at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, TN plant.  It is currently unclear whether Governor Haslam’s non-attendance will affect the Board proceedings.

More on the latest developments in the UAW/VW story can be found in the links below:

What Northwestern Is Telling Other Universities

Posted in NLRA, Quick Hits, Representation Elections

Melanie Trottman of the Wall Street Journal has a post on the WSJ’s Washington Wire blog highlighting five things Northwestern is telling other football schools about unions:

Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro has been fielding questions from colleagues from around the country in recent weeks. They want to know more about the National Labor Relations Board’s decision that Northwestern’s scholarship football players are school employees who can unionize. Mr. Schapiro answered them at once in a “Dear Colleague” letter last week that was viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Northwestern sent the April 7 letter to all the presidents of NCAA Division I football schools, according to a Northwestern University spokesman who confirmed its authenticity. Mr. Schapiro conveyed a mix of reassurance and caution about the effort Northwestern is fighting through an appeal to the NLRB.

As the details of Ms. Trottman’s post make clear, Northwestern will not go down without a fight.

Additional analysis of college football players’ unionizing efforts at Northwestern:

Posted in Media Round-Up, Negotiations, NLRA, NLRB, Representation Elections, Unions

CT Rep Proposes College Athlete Union Law: Cassandra Day of the Middletown Press reports that last week, Connecticut State Representative Matthew Lesser (D-Middletown) stated that he is working with state lawmakers to draft legislation allowing athletes at the University of Connecticut to form a labor union.  Mr. Lesser’s comments come on the heels of UConn basketball standout Shabazz Napier stating that he went to bed hungry despite playing for the NCAA Basketball champions. 

“The legislature needs to look closely at our student-athletes. Athletes in top tier NCAA sports bring in millions a year in revenue — they don’t see a dime of it and most of them will never make it to the NFL or NBA. Even worse, some of them will get career-ending injuries. Not only are they not getting paid, they have to worry about going to bed hungry.”

As the reader is aware, all of this activity piggybacks on the Northwestern football teams’ union campaign.  A vote in that matter is set for April 25.

WY Teachers Issue Strike Notice: Mike Vojtko of WNEP.com reports that school teachers in Luzerne County, WY have issued a strike notice and could walk off the job as early as tomorrow.  The teachers first struck back in September of 2013.  If the school board rejects the teachers’ union’s latest contract proposal, the school district will likely have to scramble for subsitutes.  We will keep you posted on this dispute.

Cyber Charter Teachers Unionize In PA: Karen Langley of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that this past week, teachers working at the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School voted 71-34 to be represented by the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA).  The approximately 115 teachers will be the first charter members represented by the union.  Bargaining over a contractual agreement will begin as soon as the National Labor Relations Board certifies the election.

@LRToday Morning Round-Up: April 11, 2014

Posted in Uncategorized

Delta Western Workers Unionize: Lauren Rosenthall at KUCB.org reports that fuel technicians employed by Delta Western in Unalaska, AK have voted to unionize.  In a razor-thin victory, the workers voted 8 in favor and 7 against to join the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific.  Both sides have a full week to challenge the results of the election, which may occur because management officials challenged certain ballots during voting.

UAW Hearing Subpoenas Expected To Be Challenged: Mike Pare of the Times Free Press writes that subpoenas issued by the UAW in its election appeal will in all likelihood be challenged.  Yesterday, @LRToday noted that the UAW has served subpoenas on almost 20 Tennessee politicians and state officials in fighting the results of February’s UAW election vote at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, TN plant.  While the UAW has expressed optimism that Governor Bill Haslam and Senator Bob Corker will comply with the subpoena, odds are good that the two will not come quietly.  We will keep you posted as this situation develops.

Teamsters Reject Part Of UPS Deal: Laura Stevens of the Wall Street Journal reports that earlier this week, the Teamsters Union in Louisville, KY rejected part of a new labor deal with UPS.  The portion of the contract that was rejected deals with health benefits, wages for part time workers, and overtime restrictions.  The prime contract was ratified months ago, but cannot be implemented until riders and other side agreements are concluded between the company and local unions across the country.