On December 1, 2015, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB” or the “Board”) request for interim injunctive relief pending the final disposition of Board proceedings against Employer Arlington Metals Corporation (“AMC”).
In the underlying Board proceedings, AMC faces unfair labor practice charges stemming from its December 2013 declaration of an impasse during bargaining and its subsequent July 2014 withdrawal of recognition after receiving a petition from 16 of the 26 bargaining unit employees stating they no longer wished to be represented by the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO (“Union”). In July 2015, an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that AMC failed to bargain in good faith with the Union and illegally withdrew recognition from the Union. The ALJ ordered AMC to re-recognize the Union and bargain with the employee representatives in good faith. Exceptions are currently pending with the Board. In October 2015, the NLRB filed a Petition for Injunctive Relief with the District Court, seeking to enforce the ALJ’s order pending the final disposition of the Board’s underlying administrative complaint.
In denying the NLRB’s request for injunctive relief, the District Court found that the Board had failed to demonstrate irreparable harm. The District Court pointed to the Board’s 15-month delay in seeking such relief as proof that the NLRB did not believe “time is of the essence” or that the unit employees’ alleged injuries were urgent or irreparable. The District Court also noted that injunctive relief generally prevents employee support for the Union from eroding during the pendency of administrative action, but here, the employee’s July 2014 petition demonstrated that the Union had been “out of favor” for an extended period of time. The District Court held:
The NLRB’s knowledgeable delay implies that any harm the unit employees face is neither urgent nor exclusive to administrative delay. Indeed, if AMC is ultimately ordered to re-recognize the Union, the Union will face the same rebuilding hurdles regardless of how long the administrative process takes.
The District Court also questioned the ALJ’s findings of bad faith bargaining and unlawful withdrawal of recognition. The District Court noted that the ALJ failed to consider the totality of the circumstances in analyzing the parties’ bargaining history and instead focused solely on two meetings. The District Court found that “[f]ailing to substantially consider nearly ninety-five percent of the other negotiation meetings reduces the ALJ’s likelihood of success.” Moreover, “the ALJ’s narrow factual considerations weaken both his ‘bad faith bargaining’ finding and ‘tainted petition’ finding built upon it.” Ultimately, the District Court denied the Board’s request for injunctive relief.