• The NLRB ruled that Starbucks baristas working in a Milwaukee, WI Hilton hotel cannot be accreted to an existing bargaining unit of hotel employees represented by UNITE HERE because the baristas have a separate identity from the other hotel workers and, thus, constitute a separate bargaining unit. The Board’s ruling overturned a NLRB regional director’s determination that the baristas were part of the existing bargaining unit, emphasizing that although the baristas were employed by the hotel, they had virtually no interaction with the hotel’s other employees and no common management or supervision. Milwaukee City Ctr. LLC, 354 NLRB No. 77.
  • The NLRB has determined that the Regal Health and Rehab Center in Oak Lawn, IL committed various unfair labor practices and has ordered the nursing home to recognize and bargain with the SEIU. After many of the company’s nurses signed union authorization cards in late 2007, the company attempted to alter their job responsibilities to give them supervisory roles, interrogated nurses about their union views, threatened them with reprisals, fired three nurses for their union activities and offered rewards to certain employees if they would spy on their co-workers. The Board summarily adopted the ALJ’s decision that each of the foregoing constituted unfair labor practices and ordered Regal Health to cease and desist from similar conduct, recognize and bargain with SEIU, offer reinstatement to the terminated nurses and compensate them with backpay and post notice of the Board’s order. Regal Health & Regab Ctr. Inc., 354 NLRB No. 71, 8/28/09.
  • The Eighth Circuit determined that under the terms of its collective bargaining agreement, the United Steelworkers was not obligated to pay back wages for part of the time a reinstated member was out of work even though the USW failed to file a timely grievance on her behalf. The court determined that the language of the agreement provided that the member could not assert claims against the union in the arbitration of a grievance against the employer and overturned the arbitrator’s decision that USW, rather than the employer, was responsible for the member’s back pay stemming from her wrongful termination. Turner v. United Steelworkers of Am., Local 812, 8th Cir., No. 08-3116.
  • A jury awarded nearly $300,000 to Ajax Construction and D.F.M. Industries, two nonunion steel erector subcontractors, in their federal lawsuit against a Massachusetts local of the Bridge, Structural, and Ornamental Iron Workers after finding that the Local violated federal law by threatening and coercing contractors to cease doing business with the nonunion subcontractors. The plaintiffs’ claims that the Iron Workers’ Market Recovery Program violates federal antitrust laws remains pending after the district court judge severed the two claims. The program offers employers a subsidy to offset higher union wages if those employers are willing to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with the union. American Steel Erectors Inc. v. Local Union No. 7, D. Mass., No. 04-CV-12536.
  • The Third Circuit determined that International Union of Operating Engineers Local No. 66 is obligated to indemnify Pittsburgh Mack Sale & Service for withdrawal liability to a pension plan under the terms of two collective bargaining agreements between the parties. The contracts provided that the company would contribute $1.65 per hour worked by certain employees to an ERISA pension fund and that the union would hold the company harmless for any liability to the fund in excess of its specified contribution. When Pittsburgh Mack agreed to sell most of its assets to Allentown Mack in 2005 the fund claimed that Pittsburgh Mack owed more than $400,000 in withdrawal liability. The lawsuit began after the union refused to indemnify the company. The Third Circuit overruled the district court’s dismissal of Pittsburgh Mack’s claim, finding that no public policy clearly prohibited enforcement of a private contract pertaining to an ERISA fund that ensures funding and protection of employee benefits. Pittsburgh Mack Sales & Service, Inc., v. Int. union of Operating Engineers Local Union No. 66, 3d. Cir., No. 07-3938.