Two Minnesota Workers Win $30K Settlement from Teamster-Represented Employer

Unions long have bitterly opposed the Right to Work principle. But some, in their desire to generate dues, may deceive workers into joining. International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 120 did – and so far hasn’t succeeded. On March 25, two Minnesota building materials employees announced a back pay settlement of more than $30,000 with a former employer for illegally firing them at the strong behest of Local 120. The workers, James Connolly and Charles Winter, had charged last spring that the company and the union falsely told them, several times, that union membership was a condition of employment. The case underscores organized labor’s reluctance to accept the Supreme Court’s Beck decision of over 30 years ago. A complaint filed by Connolly and Winter with the National Labor Relations Board remains active.

The saga began on April 9, 2019, when James Connolly, a recent hire at OMG Midwest’s Belle Plaine, Minnesota … Read More ➡

NLRB Restores Employer Right to Restrict Employee Email Organizing

An employer’s email system is as much private property as its computer equipment or real estate. The National Labor Relations Board once again, if belatedly, has affirmed this fact. On December 16, the board in Caesars Entertainment voted 3-1 to reestablish the right of an employer to restrict employee use of company email and other information technology during nonworking hours. The ruling overturns the board’s Obama-era ruling in Purple Communications, which had concluded employees have a statutory right to use employer email for union purposes. Employer groups see the decision as vindication of property rights, free speech rights, and especially cyber security. Union officials and supporters, understandably, are taking a different view.

With email having become established at the workplace, it was inevitable that disputes would arise over its availability to promote unions. Employers generally hold that their email systems ought to be used for workplace issues that advance … Read More ➡

The PRO Act Gives Unions Everything They Could Want

If there is a worse piece of legislation in the history of American labor relations than the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, one would be hard-pressed to find it. This gift to organized labor, introduced in May by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., would dismantle virtually every existing safeguard against union monopoly in the private-sector workplace. Among its features, the measure would override state Right to Work laws protecting employees from being fired for withholding union dues; create an expansive “joint employer” standard to force employers to bargain alongside their contractors; and ban employment arbitration agreements. The House Education and Labor Committee approved the measure on September 25 in a party-line 26-21 vote, setting up a brutal battle in 2020 in the full House and likely the Senate.

Labor unions in this country regularly proclaim their solidarity with “working families,” also known as “working … Read More ➡

NLRB General Counsel Rules on Behalf of Harassed Workers

Pressuring employees into giving a union permission to deduct dues from paychecks is a common practice. This “dues checkoff,” however, soon may become uncommon. On July 12, the National Labor Relations Board’s Office of the General Counsel, in separate cases, announced that it had ruled on behalf of two workers who refused to sign dues authorization forms as a condition of employment. The employees, Kacy Warner, a Kansas City-area nurse, and Shelby Krocker, a West Virginia supermarket employee, each experienced union retaliation. Their cases previously had been dismissed by an NLRB regional office. The West Virginia case is especially disturbing because the legislature in that state a few years ago enacted a Right to Work law barring unions from exacting such payments.

Kacy Warner is a nurse at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri who was dissatisfied with the representation that she and fellow employees had been getting from … Read More ➡

Chattanooga VW Workers Again Vote to Remain Nonunion Despite No Support from Management

Give the United Auto Workers credit: It doesn’t give up easily. But the union’s years-long effort to organize the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga once again has met with defeat. Last Friday, June 14, VW management announced that its full-time permanent workers there had voted to reject union representation. The 833-776 margin was even closer than the 712-626 “no” vote in February 2014. UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg claims the outcome was due to outside manipulation. This assertion resembles the rhetoric during the previous aftermath when the UAW called upon the National Labor Relations Board to nullify the result, a complaint it eventually dropped. VW headquarters in Germany, while not formally capitulating to the union as before, remains a passive partner.

The Chattanooga Volkswagen facility has been an organizing prize for the United Auto Workers since its spring 2011 grand opening. Built on a 1,400-acre site in an industrial park, … Read More ➡

Court Rejects Employer Challenge to ‘Ambush Election’ Rule, Rewards Unions

The Obama-era National Labor Relations Board, with its built-in pro-union majority, gave organized labor plenty of organizing and bargaining advantages, but none perhaps as far-reaching as the “quickie” or “ambush” election rule. Now an appeals court has upheld it. On April 19, a three-judge panel for the District of Columbia federal circuit court, in UPS Ground Freight Inc. v. NLRB, rejected an employer challenge to the rule, which, when put in place in April 2015, dramatically shortened the time available for employers to convey to employees their objections to potential union representation. Plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that the board’s directive to UPS to bargain with a Teamsters local lay outside the scope of its authority and that the rule “values speed at all costs.” And they were right.

Unions, like all organizations, seek to maximize membership. And that requires on some level persuading workers at nonunion sites to see the … Read More ➡

NLRB Proposes Rule to Prevent Union Abuse of Joint Employer Bargaining

Should a corporation be forced to negotiate alongside contractors or franchisees even if it doesn’t set their workplace standards? Once again, the National Labor Relations Board is attempting to clarify this contentious issue. On September 14, the NLRB issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would assign a company ‘joint’ or ‘dual’ employer status along with its affiliate “only if the two employers share or codetermine the employee’s essential terms and conditions of employment, such as hiring, firing, discipline, supervision, and direction.” In effect, the board wants to restore a longstanding, and more realistic, definition that predated its Obama-era ruling in Browning-Ferris. Unions, by contrast, want to retain the widened the definition to expand the possibilities for corporate liability for unfair labor practices.

Union Corruption Update has visited this issue several times, most recently this April in the wake of a series of decisions by the National Labor Relations … Read More ➡

NLRB Rules in Favor of Dissenting Disney World Teamsters

A union can be counted on to react poorly in the face of news that its members are leaving. It may even break the law to prevent attrition. On June 20, the National Labor Relations Board, upholding an administrative court ruling, ordered International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 385 to reimburse former members for dues deducted from their paychecks after those members had submitted resignation requests. Moreover, concluded the NLRB, the union must post a message on its premises informing workers of their right to withdraw their consent to be represented. The decision was handed down amid allegations by members of the Orlando, Fla. local that their leaders have stolen funds and covered up the thefts. The international union is investigating these charges.

Teamsters Local 385 represents bus drivers and costumed characters at Walt Disney World. Yes, even Goofy, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, and the transporters of tourists to … Read More ➡

NLRB Denies Union Standing for Northwestern Football Players

Some would call it punting. Others would call it common sense. Both summations might apply. On Monday, August 17, the National Labor Relations Board unanimously ruled that scholarship football players at Northwestern University cannot form a union. In overturning a March 2014 regional NLRB decision, the board concluded that allowing union organizing at one campus, but not at others, would be disruptive. The ruling read: “Our decision is primarily premised on a finding that because of the nature of sports leagues…it would not promote stability in labor relations to assert jurisdiction in this case.” While the decision is a rebuke to the players’ request, its scope is narrow. By declining to rule on whether student-athletes qualify as “employees,” the board has kept the door open for similar cases.

Union Corruption Update twice analyzed this case in detail last April (here and here). A nationwide student-athlete labor activist organization, … Read More ➡

NLRB Sues Employer, UAW at South Carolina Auto Plant

Labor unions, in theory, are supposed to support higher pay for workers. The idea of a union colluding with an employer to drive down wages doesn’t make sense. Then again, forced card-check agreements have never made sense – at least for workers reluctant to join a union. A case originating in South Carolina on the issue may have major implications for the rights of non-joining employees who may view a particular union as corrupt.

 

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Friday, August 5 announced it would prosecute the United Auto Workers for unlawfully blocking a scheduled wage increase, thereby coercing Freightliner, a Portland, Ore.-based maker of trucks and other commercial vehicles, to support the union during an organizing drive at the firm’s Gaffney, S.C. plant. NLRB’s Regional Office 11, in Winston-Salem, N.C., had responded to a complaint brought forth in 2003 by attorneys with the National Right to Work Read More ➡