Labor Relations Update

Category Archives: Collective Bargaining

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Thorough Employer Investigation Helps Establish Employer’s “Honest Belief” of Employees’ Picket Line Misconduct

The Board is now operating at a full complement and is issuing decisions on a fairly regular basis.  Nothing earth shattering in terms of law (which is kind of a relief) but there are some interesting issues worth discussing.  A frequent topic of discussion here is the often blurry line between what constitutes “protected” versus … Continue Reading

Turns Out Attempting To Insert New Term Into Collective Bargaining Agreement Not Agreed To In Negotiations Violates The Law…Who Knew?

As we have noted previously, the make-up of the Board currently stands at four out of five total members, divided evenly between two warring factions making it pretty much impossible to change the law which requires a majority.  It also means the precedent the new General Counsel has highlighted will not be reviewed until a … Continue Reading

NLRB Reverses Information Request Decision…After Court Reverses Board Decision

December saw a flurry of decisions (discussed here, here, here and here) by the NLRB as it briefly held a full complement.  The Board currently has only four members and so law-changing decisions are less likely to occur until a new member is confirmed. Board cases still proceed through the courts.  Sometimes, as we have seen here and here, a federal … Continue Reading

On A Roll: Board Finds No Bargaining Obligation Attaches to Unilateral Actions Consistent with Past Practice

On the eve of Chairman Miscimarra’s departure, the Board has been churning out decision after decision, many of them reversing precedents from the last 8 years. Today, the NLRB, in Raytheon Network Centric Systems, 365 NLRB No. 161 (December 15, 2017), returned to the longstanding law of the NLRB that there is no duty to … Continue Reading

NLRB’s Acted More Like “Advocate Than Adjudicator” In Issuing Decision, DC Court of Appeals Concludes

When bargaining over an agreement, it is common to hear union representatives ask “why do we need such elaborate language in an agreement?  We are always reasonable.”  To which, the company usually responds, “We think you’re nifty but the next person holding your job may not be as reasonable; better to have it in writing … Continue Reading

Novel Theory Related To Violation Of Bargaining “Ground Rules” Fails (Fortunately)

When an employer and a union sit down to bargain they often agree to ground rules for how negotiations are to be conducted.  A common ground rule, for example, is for the parties to agree to address “non-economic” items before addressing economic proposals.  Other ground rules include things like confidentiality of negotiations (becoming increasingly rare as unions want to take their … Continue Reading

Case Demonstrates Perils Of Refusing To Discuss Issues With Union

A significant change in NLRB precedent during the last few years was the added requirement that an employer bargain over discretionary aspects of discipline in the period between the union acquiring representational rights and the first contract.  Given the limited set of circumstances one doesn’t see a whole lot of these cases.  A recent NLRB … Continue Reading

Circuit Court Rejects Attack On NLRB’s New Witness Rule

During the last several years, the NLRB has overturned a great deal of existing precedent.  Among other changes, the Board has required bargaining over discipline in newly organized units, found graduate students to be employees entitled to organize, and found that two employers may have to bargain together.  The Board also changed the longstanding rule … Continue Reading

Union Adherent’s Antics Not Protected By Act, NLRB Rules

The NLRB recently issued a rare decision completely dismissing all allegations against an employer; rarer still because it was unanimous.  In Brooke Glen Behavioral Hospital, 365 NLRB No. 79 (May 15, 2017) the NLRB was confronted with a situation where an employee-union adherent engaged in behavior ultimately found to be inappropriate and unprotected. The employer, a … Continue Reading

Employer Did Not Violate Duty To Bargain Over Change To Christmas Gift Policy, NLRB Rules

What would the holiday season be without a Christmas gift case?  A perennial problem for labor relations personnel is whether the yearly Christmas turkey given to employees is something that an employer must bargain over before (bah humbug) discontinuing. See, e.g., Q-1 Motor Express, Inc., 323 NLRB 767, 775 (1997). In a decision issued shortly … Continue Reading

Micro-Units under the Microscope: The Second and Fifth Circuit Courts Consider Specialty Healthcare and Its Misapplication

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit joined the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Circuits in upholding the Board’s Specialty Healthcare standard for determining appropriate bargaining units under the National Labor Relations Act, although with a very skeptical eye on how it applied.  Constellation Brands, U.S. Operations, Inc. v. NLRB, … Continue Reading

NLRB Majority Stuns Nation By Ruling Employer Has Management Right, Chairman Dissents

In another example of the inconsistency of the current state of Board law, a 2-1 majority of the NLRB ruled that an employer not only had a management right but it wasn’t necessary that this right be expressly set forth in the parties’ contract.  This is certainly odd because the NLRB went out of its … Continue Reading

Employer Claims Of Unprofitability And Competitive Disadvantage Enough To Trigger Audit Of Financials By Union, NLRB Majority Concludes

The end of another NLRB fiscal year is upon us.  Today, September 30, marks the last date of the fiscal year.  We can expect to see a number of decisions issue from the Board, and many determinations made at the regional level, as the agency attempts to pump up its case processing statistics.  We will … Continue Reading

Non-Compete Agreement A Mandatory Subject of Bargaining, NLRB Rules

The first day of employment is often chaotic.  New employees must learn their way around the jobsite, meet (and remember the names of) many new people and otherwise familiarize themselves with working at a new job.  Oh, and there’s the paperwork.  Seemingly endless mounds of paperwork.  New employees are asked to sign a multitude of documents … Continue Reading

Recent NLRB Decision A Reminder That NLRA Can Protect Actions Of A Single Employee

So far, it has been a long quiet Summer with little NLRB activity, – with the exception of the recent ruling that temporary agency employees can be part of a bargaining unit with the principal employer’s employees, of course.  More change may be coming, though.  The end of the NLRB’s fiscal year is September 30 and … Continue Reading

NLRB Majority, Management Rights Clause Must Be Specific To Enable Employer To Make Unilateral Changes

Collective bargaining agreements, do not, and cannot cover every issue that will arise during their term.  Matters concerning terms and conditions of employment that are not addressed in the labor contract have to be negotiated before changes can be made.  Sometimes, however, the parties agree that management can make changes to certain terms and conditions of … Continue Reading

No Duty To Bargain Over Discipline During Contract Hiatus, NLRB Division of Advice

The NLRB has been active but quiet during the last few months as the agency quietly reaffirms decisions nullified by the Supreme Court.  By all accounts, however, and as history has proved, the NLRB is getting ready to issue an onslaught of law-changing decisions as we head into the holiday season.  This onslaught of change … Continue Reading

Ebola and Potential Labor Relations Issues

The Ebola panic presently sweeping the U.S. raises a host of potential issues for employers.  We recently provided guidance to help employers ensure employee safety while also complying with legal obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar laws.  In addition, the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) recently released a comprehensive summary of … Continue Reading

NLRB Refines Its Test for Independent Contractor Status

The National Labor Relations Board, with one member dissenting, has issued a decision in which it “refines” the test it uses for determining whether it will find individuals performing services for an employer to be employees, who are covered by the National Labor Relations Act, or independent contractors, who are not.  The case is FedEx … Continue Reading

Department Store Units Decided Under Specialty Healthcare

This week the NLRB decided two cases involving union organizing in large department stores. In each case an NLRB regional director applied the Board’s Specialty Healthcare test to determine whether the bargaining unit requested by the union was appropriate. In Specialty Healthcare, the Board held that a unit will be presumptively appropriate for collective bargaining … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Invalidates Recess Appointments To NLRB: Several Labor Board Decisions Now In Doubt

In a rare 9-0 decision issued today, the United States Supreme Court invalidated the recess appointments President Obama made to the NLRB on January 4, 2012, while the Senate was in a three day recess.  The decision in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning (USSC June 26, 2014) means that the NLRB was operating without the requisite … Continue Reading

NLRB Rules That Union’s Offer To Waive Dues For Six Months To Make Up For Tiny Wage Increase Did Not Interfere With Decertification Election

As of July 31, the NLRB has a full complement of Board Members, for the first time in about ten years.  The fact the deal on appointments has been progressing for a few weeks did not prohibit the three member Board of questionable constitutional validity from continuing to render decisions. The NLRB recently ruled that … Continue Reading

NLRB Overrules Another Longstanding Precedent: Witness Statements No Longer Exempt From Disclosure

The precedents are falling fast.  Last week the NLRB overruled the five decade old Bethlehem Steel decision, and now another longstanding precedent has fallen.  The NLRB issued a decision overruling Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 237 NLRB 982 (1978), the case that held that witness statements obtained during an employer investigation of workplace misconduct are exempt from disclosure … Continue Reading

Holiday Season Extravaganza: NLRB Issues Flurry Of Law Changing Decisions

Last week the NLRB issued several significant decisions.   In the press release announcing the decisions, the agency noted that most were actually issued “the week of December 10, but were issued this week following editing and formatting which is typical for the final decisions in a Member’s term.”  This is a reference to Member Hayes’ … Continue Reading
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