ISS Facility Services Inc. and IBT Local 210 (Teamsters) violated several sections of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when they encouraged janitorial employees at JFK Airport’s Terminal 2 to join the Teamsters. A union official further violated the NLRA by threatening employees with termination unless they signed the dues checkoff authorization cards.

ISS provides cleaning services in Terminals 2 and 4 at JFK Airport. The Teamsters have represented the Terminal 4 cleaning staff for years while the Terminal 2 cleaning staff was represented by the United Services Workers Union until November 2013 when the union’s president decided to end the representation of Terminal 2’s cleaning staff. One month later ISS recognized the Teamsters as the bargaining representative for 40 workers in Terminal 2 and 49 workers in Terminal 4. The Teamsters and ISS bargained a contract requiring all 89 workers to become Teamster members and pay dues or be terminated.

The ALJ found that the Terminal 2 employees were not properly accreted, or subsumed, into a joint bargaining unit with the Terminal 4 employees. The Teamsters claimed it had majority support of the total 89 workers in the unit, but it had only 44 authorization cards, which was less than a majority of 89 employees. The ALJ also found that the two groups of workers lacked any degree of interchange and worked in separate locations. There was only “sporadic, if any, interchange between Terminal 2 and Terminal 4” employees.” The two groups of employees also lacked “common day-to-day supervision.” While various factors, including similar job functions, could support the Terminal 2 employees subsuming into the Terminal 4 unit, the lack of common supervision and lack of employee interchange outweighed these factors.

Just because a company and a union negotiate the terms of a collective bargaining agreement does not mean that the union was lawfully formed. Employees always have an option to challenge union representation.