An associate to NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb issued a guidance letter instructing Board directors to more closely review allegations that unions have breached their “duty of fair representation” to workers in handling grievances. Under the NLRA, unions may not “restrain” workers from exercising their organizing rights, which has been interpreted to prohibit unions from ignoring worker grievances, but does not include “mere negligence” of unions toward workers. Commentators opine that this interpretation of the NLRA will only expose unions to greater liability during the grievance process and increase the amount of money unions spend defending themselves against claims.
The Chairman of the NLRB cleared Board member William Emanuel to participate in a case regarding whether employees may use their work emails to discuss union business. Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Cory Booker of New Jersey called for Emanuel to sit out the case because his former law firm represents a company in another case appealing a 2014 Board decision finding company employees may use their work emails for union organizing efforts. Presidential appointees are required to sit out on matters involving their former employers or clients for their first two years in a government job.