The NLRB found that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hospitals’ workers’ council for environmental services workers was a labor organization under the NLRA, and that the hospitals violated federal labor law by unlawfully dominating an employee council. The worker council was created by hospital executives to invite employees to discuss issues of workplace quality and efficiency, but had not been active for several years due to a lack of employee interest. In a 2 to 1 decision, the NLRB reasoned that because the hospitals supported the council and paid employees to attend, the council would not have existed without the management’s active involvement; therefore, the organization was unlawfully dominated by the employer. UPMC.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld an NLRB decision requiring the Columbia University’s Teachers College to provide Local 2110 of the United Auto Workers union with information related to its grievance. In response to the union filing a grievance alleging the school was favoring non-unit employees for bargaining unit clerical work, a labor arbitrator ordered the parties to agree on an exchange of information. The college refused to provide Local 2110 with the requested information, which included information regarding various job positions of non-union employees, so the union filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB, which found the college had acted unlawfully. The appeals court agreed, noting that the union request was made in good faith and explained the relevance of its request. Teachers College, Columbia Univ. v. NLRB.
An NLRB judge ruled that Interstate Management Company LLC, a company that manages the Residence Inn by Marriott Santa Fe in New Mexico, violated the NLRA’s Section 8(a)(1) by threatening employees and enforcing broad and discriminatory policies, including requiring employees to get cleared by the company before responding to police requests. A group of housekeepers formed a workers’ committee and complained about age discrimination and unfair pressure to work, resulting in injuries and other health problems, but their complaints were not addressed. The judge ordered the hotel to immediately desist its unlawful work rules and to post a notice at all its hotels nationwide, in English and Spanish, informing employees that the hotel had violated federal labor laws and that all employees had the right to engage in protected activities. Interstate Management Co. LLC et al. and Residence Marriott Committee.
A federal district court in Minnesota dismissed a security guard’s claims of defamation against his former employer, G4S Secure Solutions (USA) Inc., for comments it made to the employee’s union. G4S suspended the employee after learning that he had misappropriated client information and may have been secretly photographing residents of a community the company protected. After the employee grieved his suspension, G4S discussed the basis for the guard’s suspension with the union. The court held that an employer’s statements to a union during the grievance process (as opposed to before) are protected by an “absolute privilege” that bars claims against the employer for libel or slander. Svendsen v. G4S Secure Sols (USA) Inc.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that Wisconsin’s law allowing employees to revoke their authorizations for union-dues payroll deductions after 30 days was unlawful. The Court ruled that Federal law, which provides that authorization may be irrevocable for up to one year, preempted Wisconsin’s state law. This holding puts unions in a better position to budget their operations, and gives unions less uncertainty in dealing with threats or cancellations by unhappy employees. Int’l Ass’n of Machinists District 10 v. Allen.
A U.S. District Court in North Carolina granted the Farm Labor Organizing Committee’s motion for an injunction, halting the enforcement of a new state law prohibiting farmworker unions from using payroll deductions to collect member dues. FLOC, which represents approximately 10,000 North Carolina farmworkers, alleged the law is discriminatory because it only affects the agriculture industry, which is primarily composed of Latinos and non-citizens. If upheld, the law will not impact farmworkers until the union contract expires in 2020. Farm Labor Org. Comm. V. Stein.
The Second Circuit granted an NLRB petition to enforce a Board decision finding that Dawn Trucking illegally retaliated against drivers for voting to unionize. In August 2017, the Board upheld an administrative law judge’s findings that the dump truck company unlawfully fired six workers after they voted to unionize and ordered the employees reinstated, with back pay. The Board also found Dawn had illegally told employees it would reinstate their employment, but only if they gave up their union membership. The National Labor Relations Board v. Dawn Trucking Inc.
Pursuant the NLRB’s request, the Ninth Circuit postponed an upcoming oral argument for two cases challenging the Board’s 2014 decision in Purple Communications, which allows workers to use their company email for union organizing. The cases were paused in anticipation of another pending NLRB decision, Caesars Entertainment, which, now that three Trump administration appointees control the Board, could reverse the Obama-era ruling inPurple Communications. Purple Communications v. NLRB and Cellco Partnership d/b/a/ Verizon Wireless v. NLRB.