• The National Labor Relation Board’s (“NLRB”or “Board”) Division of Advice issued a memorandum to the Seattle regional office, concluding that Boeing Co.’s “Ethical Business Conduct Guidelines” did not violate Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). Boeing’s guidelines were published in 2004, and among other things, require that employees “not engage in conduct or activity that may raise questions as to the company’s honesty, impartiality, reputation or otherwise cause embarrassment to the company.” The Division of Advice found that the Boeing guidelines target “potential ethical lapses rather than Section 7 activity.”
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (“LMRDA”) does not prohibit national parent unions from imposing new fees without providing members an opportunity to vote. In 2006, delegates of the Laborers International Union of North America (“LIUNA”) voted to require each local affiliate to pay an additional fee, and in 2008 the delegates voted for increased dues. A retired worker sued in California federal court, alleging LIUNA’s actions violated the LMRDA. The Ninth Circuit held that national and umbrella labor organizations can create new fees by getting majority approval through a general or special convention. The Ninth Circuit did find, however, that organizations that act as an intermediary between the parent union and local unions, such as the Northern California District Council of Laborers, cannot impose dues increases on workers. Alex Corns v. Laborers International Union, et al.
  • The NLRB will seek Supreme Court review of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Noel Canning v. NLRB, which held that the recess appointments of Terence Flynn, Richard Griffin, and Sharon Block were unconstitutional. The Board must file its petition for certiorari, asking the Supreme Court to review the case, by April 25, 2013.
  • The NLRB held that Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 537 could proceed to a secret ballot election on union representation for a narrower voting unit than was accepted by the parties two years ago. Originally, the union sought to represent around 33 pipefitters, welders, and plumbers, and technicians at Fraser Engineering. The employer argued that an additional 13 employees who were pipefitters, welders, and plumbers at Fraser Petroleum, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fraser Engineering, must be included in the voting unit. The Board applied Specialty Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center, 357 NLRB No. 83 (2011), and found that the union’s proposed voting unit was appropriate. Fraser Eng’g Co.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that the LMRDA only protects complaints related to union policies. An employee of General Dynamics Corp., reported to union leaders that she walked in on the president and the vice-president of her union looking at pornography. The employee was later fired due to charges related to identity theft. The employee claimed that union leaders sabotaged her grievance process in retaliation for her complaint about the president and vice-president. The Fourth Circuit held that the employee could not file a claim under the LMRDA because her allegations had nothing to do with union governance or the organization’s democratic process. Melissa Trail v. Local 2850 UAW United Defense Workers of America, et al.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for Second Circuit held that an employer’s statements during negotiations that it was unwilling to pay high wages did not violate the NLRA. During negotiations, the maker of Stella D’oro cookies stated that its owner, Brynwood Partners, was unwilling to tolerate the wages paid to certain employees. Based on that statement, the union requested information pertaining to the employer’s financial condition. The employer refused to produce the information and the filed charges. Reversing the NLRB’s decision on the issue, the Second Circuit held that the union was only entitled to financial documents if the company said it “can’t pay [what the union was seeking].” Here, the employer said it was “unwilling” to pay. Furthermore, the Second Circuit found that the employer did, in fact, make documents available to the union by offering them multiple opportunities to examine the documents and take notes. SDBC Holdings, Inc. v. NLRB.