D.C. Circuit Overturns Flagstaff ULPs: Ben James of Law360 ($$) writes that last Friday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the National Labor Relations Board took an "interpretive leap" in holding that an executive's comments about negotiating with unions violated the National Labor Relations Act. The executive, who is employed by Flagstaff Medical Center in Arizona, stated that if his employees decided to unionize, then he would not be negotiating with them. The Board had ruled that the executive's comments amounted to an implicit threat from management that a union campaign would be futile. However, the D.C. Circuit vehemently disagreed, noting that the comment had been made during a discussion of the benefit of direct communication between employees and management.
“Considering this context, we are baffled by the board’s interpretation of Bradel’s subsequent first-person-singular statement about negotiations as a comment about Flagstaff’s threshold willingness to negotiate — rather than as a statement about his own attendance at whatever meetings occur,” the appeals court ruling said. “The record does not support this interpretive leap.”
The D.C. Circuit further explained in its ruling that employers are allowed to discuss the benefits and detriments of unionizing as long as there is no threat or promise of benefit involved. A Board spokesperson declined to comment for the story.
Board Clears Palermo Immigration Check: Karen Herzog of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes that the National Labor Relations Board has found that Palermo Villa, Inc. did not violate labor law by terminating 75 workers during an immigration audit last year. The Board further held that Palermo did not use the audit in order to retaliate against workers for their unionization efforts. Importantly, the Board's decision was the last major hurdle that needed to be cleared before employees could vote on whether to be represented by the Palermo Workers Union. We will keep you updated as to the vote's results.
MLS Referees Unionize: The Boston Herald carried an Associated Press story reporting that Major League Soccer (MLS) referees, linesmen, and fourth officials have voted overwhelmingly in favor of being represented by the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA) for the purpose of collective-bargaining. A spokesperson for the PSRA said that the vote was 55-7 in favor of unionization, with 15 referees abstaining. As a result of the vote, the Professional Referee Organization (PRO), the entity in charge of staffing MLS games, will now be compelled to negotiate with the PSRA over match officials' terms and conditions of employment.