The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the State’s right-to-work law is constitutional, defeating an effort by local unions to overturn the law. The Kentucky right-to-work law prohibits agreements between employers and unions that require all of the company’s workers to belong to a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. The General Drivers, Warehousemen and Helpers Local Union No. 89 and the Kentucky State AFL-CIO argued that the Act violated the state constitution’s equal protection clause, was improperly designated as “emergency legislation” and violated the prohibition on special legislation, and amounted to a taking by the government without compensation. None of the unions’ arguments passed muster. Zuckerman v. Bevin.

A federal judge in the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled that Silgan Containers LLC cannot bar a union seeking to organize its employees from using its name. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers used the Silgan name in social media posts recruiting workers interested in unionizing, and Silgan sought a permanent injunction. Though Silgan argued the case was just about trademark misuse, the court held that an injunction would “interfere with legitimate union objectives,” and federal courts are barred from using injunctive powers in a lawsuit arising from a labor dispute. Silgan Containers LLC v. Int’l Ass’n of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO.

The NLRB voided a unionization vote by baggage handlers at Portland International Airport over jurisdictional issues. The Board ruled that the handlers’ employer, facility operations contractor ABM Onsite Services-West Inc., engages in interstate air transport and thus falls under the jurisdiction of the National Mediation Board, which administers the Railway Labor Act, instead of the NLRB. The agency had previously approved the election during the Obama administration. ABM Onsite Services-West.

The NLRB ruled a portion of workers at PCC Structurals lawfully constitute a “micro-unit.” In denying PCC’s request for review of Seattle-area Regional Director Ronald Hooks’s decision, the NLRB stated that the subset of PCC workers who voted 54-38 to organize with the International Association of Machinists were different enough from their colleagues to unionize as a group separate from their co-workers. The Board stated that the employees, who are rework welders, rework specialists, and crucible repair welders are sufficiently separate from the rest of the employer’s workforce because they are “skilled journeymen craftsman.” PCC Structurals Inc. and International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, District Lodge W24.

Upholding an ALJ decision, the NLRB held that Rockwell Mining lawfully terminated a worker who caused a serious accident, even though he was engaged in legally protected efforts to unionize. The United Mine Workers of America filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company when an employee, mobile equipment manager Jerry Hager, was fired after driving a dump truck off the road. Hager’s negligent driving was a terminable offense, according to the ALJ, because it caused serious injury to him and substantial costs to the company, and the company would have fired him even if he had not been involved in protected union activity. Rockwell Mining.

An NLRB judge ruled that the Maine Coast Memorial Hospital must rehire its former activities coordinator, Karen-Jo Young, after she criticized the hospital in a letter to her local newspaper for pushing out veteran doctors and employing too few nurses. Young, who is not represented by the hospital’s nurses’ union, wrote to The Ellsworth American in September 2017 in response to a series of articles about employee unrest at the hospital. She supported the hospital’s nurses “for going public with their valid concerns of inadequate, unsafe staffing levels.” The judge determined that because Young supported the union representing the hospital’s nurses, her firing violated federal labor law. Maine Cost Regional Health Facilities et al. and Karen-Jo Young.

An NLRB Administrative Law Judge ruled that a New York shipping box maker violated federal labor law by refusing to bargain with a Teamsters unit that absorbed another local that had represented its workers. Teamsters Local 503 inherited Local 27’s representation of Cascades Containerboard Packaging-Lancaster workers, and the ALJ ruled the company’s argument that the merger of the two locals severed the bargaining relationship. Cascades Containerboard Packaging-Lancaster and Graphic Communication Conference/International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 503.

The NLRB will reconsider the workplace rules of Securitas Security Services USA, AmeriFirst Financial Inc., and more than 10 other companies. In sending several cases involving employee handbooks and other work rules back down to administrative law judges and regional directors with instructions to consider the cases under the agency’s new, more employer-friendly legal framework, the Board said that the lawfulness of rules should depend on their impact on employee rights and the employers’ legitimate interests for having the rules.

Rather than issuing one rule to revamp the NLRB’s Obama-era union election rule, the current Board will release a series of proposed rules over the next few months to change specific aspects of the union election process. The agency requested public feedback over whether to change the controversial regulation that was finalized in 2014. After reviewing the public’s comments, the Board decided to adopt piecemeal revisions targeting specific areas of concern. Chairman John Ring stated that the issue of joint employer is one of the areas that will likely be revised.