• The NLRB ruled that unions may display large inflatable rats at a secondary employee’s facility to protest its use of a nonunion contractor. Sheet Metal Workers Local 15, an AFL-CIO union, did not violate U.S. labor law against coercive picketing of a neutral employer when it set up a 16-foot-tall rat at the entrance to the Brandon Regional Medical Center in Brandon, Fla. Sheet Metal Workers Local 15 (Galencare Inc. d/b/a Brandon Reg’l Med. Ctr.).
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed a trial court order compelling arbitration between Sage Hospitality Resources, doing business as Renaissance Providence Hotel, and UNITE HERE Local 217. The hotel argued that the parties’ disagreement concerning the expiration date of the labor agreement implicates a question of substantive arbitrability and should be decided by the court, not an arbitrator. The First Circuit disagreed finding the dispute “concern[ed] neither the validity of the arbitration clause nor its applicability to the underlying dispute between the parties.” Further, the agreement’s broad and unambiguous arbitration clause manifested the parties’ “clear and unmistakable intent” to arbitrate controversies related to the interpretation or application of the contract. UNITE HERE Local 217 v. Sage Hospitality Res.
  • The Board ordered a second election for security guards at the recently opened Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. Security officers voted 38-35 against representation by the International Union, Security, Police, and Fire Professionals. The Board found the employer engaged in objectionable conduct during a union organizing drive by imposing and enforcing an overly broad no-distribution policy, engaging in surveillance of union activity, prohibiting the wearing of union buttons, and granting a benefit on the day of the election. Rivers Casino.
  • The NLRB issued a complaint alleging the California Nurses Association’s (CNA) unilateral decision to print Weingarten Rights on the inside or outside of its collective bargaining agreement with an employer violated the National Labor Relations Act. California Nurses Association, National Nurses Organizing Committee.
  • The National Mediation Board (NMB) authorized a representation election among 3,000 pilots at six subsidiaries of Republic Airways Holdings Inc., including Frontier Airlines. The Teamsters is the only union set to appear on the ballot; the election date is pending. The NMB previously ruled that Frontier Airlines and the five other subsidiaries of Republic Airways Holdings Inc., are a single transportation system for pilot representation purposes. Republic Airlines et al./Frontier.
  • The NLR’s Division of Advice concluded in a memorandum to the Board’s Phoenix regional office that a newspaper publisher did not violate the NLRA when it fired a reporter for writing inappropriate and offensive postings on a work-related Twitter account. The public safety reporter claimed his firing violated Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA by interfering with the right of employees to engage in concerted activity for their mutual aid or protection. The Board disagreed finding tweets commenting on local homicides that were posted on the television station’s Twitter feed do not involve employment issues and therefore are not protected under federal labor law. Lee Enters. Inc. d/b/a Arizona Daily Star.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that a union flyer that purportedly made reference to the U.S. Supreme Court was not a forgery of a high court decision designed to mislead potential bargaining unit members. Under the NLRB’s ruling in Midland National Life Insurance Co., 263 N.L.R.B. 127 (1982), the Seventh Circuit explained, the NLRB generally “will not ‘probe into the truth or falsity of the of the parties’ campaign statements, [or] set elections aside on the basis of misleading campaign statements’” NLRB v. E.A. Sween Co.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit granted the National Football League’s request to stay a district court’s injunction against the league’s lockout in a proposed antitrust class action brought by a group of players. The court held the league was likely to prevail on the merits of the case and that it had “serious doubts” regarding the district court’s jurisdiction to enjoin the league’s lockout. The lockout began when the National Football League Players Association decertified the union exercising a so-called nuclear option that opened the league to antitrust suits. Tom Brady et al. v. National Football League et al.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that a Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association (VEBA) trust fund agreement, which was part of a collective bargaining agreement between the company and the union, could not be construed to contain a covenant not to sue where there was no language mentioning the alleged obliger or the nature of the obligation. The court further held that the company’s state law claims against the union were not preempted under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. CNH America LLC v. International Union, et al.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that Hearst Corp. must arbitrate a dispute with the Newspaper Guild of Albany over the publisher’s decision to discontinue dues checkoff after their collective bargaining agreement expired because the union’s right to dues checkoff survived the contract’s expiration. The court found that the written assignment/authorization by individual employees directing Hearst to deduct dues from their pay and to remit them to the union “continues until revoked by the employee and is automatically renewed and irrevocable in certain circumstances.” Newspaper Guild/CWA of Albany v. Hearst Corp.
  • The NLRB issued a complaint against Hispanics United of Buffalo Inc’s alleging the company violated federal labor law when it fired five employees who criticized workload and staffing conditions on the social networking site Facebook. According to the NLRB, the Facebook discussion was protected concerted activity under Section 7 of the NLRA because it involved discussions between employees about their working conditions. Hispanics United of Buffalo Inc. The NLRB also issued a complaint against a Chicago-area car dealership, Karl Knauz Motors Inc., alleging the company ran afoul of federal labor laws by firing a sales employee over a message he posted on Facebook. Karl Knauz BMW.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a jury may decide when the contract, at issue in Granite Rock Co’s lawsuit against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, was ratified. The case stems from a 2004 dispute, when the parties had trouble reaching a contract, between Granite Rock and the Teamsters Local 287. Granite Rock Co. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters et al.
  • NLRB Acting General Counsel Solomon is considering whether to propose a new legal standard covering union information requests when an employer is deciding whether to relocate a plant, according to a memorandum sent to regional office employees. The memorandum stated the issue will be considered on a case-by-case review, but directed the regions to submit to the NLRB’s Division of Advice all cases presenting the issue of whether an employer violated the NLRB by refusing to provide information related to a relocation or other decision covered by Dubuque Packing Co.