• In affirming the denial of Pulte Homes Inc.’s petition for injunctive relief, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that Pulte failed to make “every reasonable effort” to settle the labor dispute before filing suit and thus failed to comply with Section 8 of the Norris-LaGuardia Act. The case arose after Pulte sought an injunction against the Laborer’ International Union to stop the union from bombarding the company with thousands of emails and phone calls. The circuit court noted that after Pulte sent a cease-and-desist letter to the union, it failed to specify a timeframe in which to respond, nor did it offer the union an opportunity to negotiate. Pulte Homes, Inc. v. Laborers’ Int’l Union of North America.
  • The National Basketball Association filed suit against the players’ union and its members in the Southern District of New York alleging antitrust violations, and filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the association. The league initiated the actions in an effort to preempt the union’s threats to disband and launch an antitrust suit challenging the legality of the lockout against players. Nat’l Basketball Ass’n v. Nat’l Basketball Players Ass’n.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a NLRB order for Kiewit Power Constructors Co. to reinstate 2 union-represented construction workers. The workers were fired after telling their superior that if they got laid off that things were going to get ugly and that he “better bring [his] boxing gloves” in response to being given a warning on their break practices. The NLRB concluded that the language was a figure of speech and not actual physical threats. Kiewit Power Constructors Co. v. NLRB.
  • On remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit , the NLRB found that Guard Publishing Co. violated Section 8(a)(3) and (1) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA or Act) by disciplining a copy editor who used her company email to send union-related emails. The NLRB found that the company policy preventing personal email was not a violation of the NLRA, but that discriminatory enforcement of the policy was in violation of the Act. Guard Publ’g Co.
  • The D.C. Circuit also affirmed a NLRB ruling that a New Jersey casino committed unfair labor practices when it fired a table dealer who used 20 minutes of FMLA time to attend a union rally. The employee was taking eight hours of FMLA leave to care for his daughter but during that time spent twenty minutes at a union rally. The NLRB found that the casino violated Section 8(a)(1) and (3) for firing the employee because it failed to show it would have taken the same action absent his union activity. Bally’s Park Place Inc. v. NLRB.
  • A South Carolina federal district court dismissed claims against South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley after the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the South Carolina branch of the AFL-CIO alleged that she made public comments to prevent workers from joining or organizing labor groups at Boeing’s manufacturing plant. The public comments came in a December 2010 speech nominating Catherine Templeton as director of the state’s Department of Labor and lauding her past efforts which included fighting unions. The court held that Governor Haley’s laudatory comments did not violate the NLRA or any constitutional rights of any potential union organizers. Int’l Ass’n of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, et al. v. Haley.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed a NLRB decision that a New Jersey hospital interfered with a group of nurses’ union representation votes. The ALJ had found that the hospital violated the NLRA by promoting a shared governance concept in pre-representation voting communications to nurses that were aimed to discourage employee support for unionization. NLRB v. Cmty. Med. Ctr.
  • The NLRB upheld a 2007 ruling that Ampersand Publishing violated the NLRA, by firing eight newsroom employees, and disciplining and threatening others who participated in union activities, and ordered the publisher to rehire the fired employees. The NLRB determined that the employees were engaged in protected activity by seeking union representation and a collective bargaining agreement, and by protesting the discharges of co-workers. The NLRB rejected the publisher’s argument that it could fire the employees for disloyalty after their protest included urging passers-by to cancel their newspaper subscriptions. Ampersand Publishing LLC v. Graphics Communications Conference International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Robert Guiliano.
  • The NLRB reversed an ALJ’s finding that a Florida condominium employee was illegally disciplined pursuant to an overbroad no-access rule. The NLRB determined that even though a rule may be illegally overbroad, it would not be unlawful for an employer to discipline an employee pursuant to the rule in situations in which an employee’s conduct is not similar to conduct protected by the NLRA. Continental Group Inc.
  • A federal judge in Minnesota dismissed a case against U.S. Steel Corp. for violations of the WARN Act when it laid off 313 workers at an iron ore plant in Minnesota five days after notice was given to employees. The judge found that the plant fell within an exception for employers who attempt to comply with the law in good faith. United Steel Workers of America Local 2660 v. United States Steel Corp.
  • The NLRB held that labor unions did not violate a federal labor law prohibition on secondary boycotts by displaying a large stationary banner against a neutral employer during a labor dispute with a construction company. The Board held that peaceful bannering did not constitute picketing or coercion even if customers or other unions interpreted the banners to be a form of picketing. Carpenters & Joiners of Am. Local 1827 (United Parcel Serv. Inc.).
  • A federal district court in North Carolina refused to dismiss or transfer a U.S. Airways Inc.’s suit accusing the U.S. Airline Pilots Association of causing nationwide flight delays and cancelations in order to put pressure on the airline during labor negotiations. U.S. Airways’ filing follows the union’s ongoing lawsuit in New York alleging that the airline violated the Railway Labor Act by improperly docking pilot pay, refusing to schedule timely arbitration meetings, and refusing to resolve grievances. U.S. Airways Inc. v. U.S. Airline Pilots Ass’n.
  • The NLRB set aside a Board election won by a Teamsters local because the union engaged in “objectionable conduct” by filing a wage-and-hour suit against employer Stericycle Inc. in the critical period after the petition and before the election. The Board noted that had the suit been filed before the election petition or if the union had merely educated employees concerning their rights as well as the union’s ability to refer employees to competent counsel without funding the litigation, the election would not have been set aside. Stericycle Inc.
  • An NLRB ALJ ruled that Columbia Memorial, an upstate New York hospital, did not violate the NLRA by threatening to suspend and stopping workers from wearing “inflammatory” buttons during a contentious contract renegotiation. The ALJ determined such activity may have adverse effects on patients’ recovery even absent evidence that the feared effects have actually occurred. Here, the buttons could distress patients because they could confuse patients to think they were going to be denied health care. The hospital could not, however, stop a union member from wearing gear with more neutral pride messages. Columbia Memorial Hosp.
  • The NLRB reversed and remanded an ALJ’s dismissal of an unfair labor practice complaint against Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle because it had implemented a policy that required any non-influenza immunized nurses to wear face masks or take anti-viral medication. The hospital argued that the flu prevention policy went to the “core” purposes of the institution and so bargaining was not required by the NLRA. However, the Board disagreed and found that the policy “plainly affected” the working conditions of the union-represented nurses and would be a mandatory subject of bargaining under the NLRA. Virginia Mason Hosp.
  • The NLRB overruled three major Board decisions regarding the immediate challenges to the representative status of a union. In Lamons Gasket Co., the Board overruling Dana Corp., held that in a case of voluntary recognition, a union will be protected from challenges for a period of six months to a year depending on the circumstances. In UGL-Unicco Service Co., the Board indicated that a union would be protected from challenges for six months if the new employer, in terms of a successorship, complies with the existing contract and for up to a year if the new employer employs new terms and working conditions on the company. In Specialty Healthcare, the Board held that when an employer argues that a proposed unit improperly excluded certain employees, the employer must prove that the excluded employees share “an overwhelming community of interest” with the employees in the proposed unit. Lamons Gasket Co., UGL-Unicco Service Co., and Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center of Mobile.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed an NLRB decision finding that three contractors did not act in bad faith when they refused to honor the results of an unilaterally-conducted card check by the union where the contractors reasonably interpreted the collective bargaining agreement to require the parties’ mutual agreement on card check procedures. However, the circuit court found it was bad faith, when a fourth contractor refused to honor the card check results, because the contractor “deliberately dodged” the union’s requests to conduct a card check. Int’l Union of Painter & Allied Trades v. J.R. Flooring Inc.
  • The NLRB revived a worker’s petition to withdraw the authority of a newspaper publisher and union to require union membership as a condition of employment. The petition was revived even though the union-security clause did not require firing the employee for not complying. Los Angeles Times Commc'ns LLC.