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 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 ➡
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.
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 ➡
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.