Tag Archives: National Labor Relations Board

Employer agrees to rescind social media policy

On April 7, 2014, Valero Services, Inc. agreed to rescind its nationwide social media policy and to post and mail a NLRB remedial notice to its employees throughout the country in response to a complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Valero Services provides employee leasing services to refineries and plants located throughout the United States, including a refinery located in Port Arthur, Texas.

The United Steelworkers of America filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB Region 16, alleging that Valero Services social media policy interfered with employees’ rights to discuss their terms and conditions of employment on social media. Region 16 found merit to the allegations and issued complaint. During the hearing, Associate Chief Administrative Law Judge William N. Cates approved a settlement agreement resolving the dispute. Under the terms of the settlement, Valero Services agreed to notify employees that it will rescind its unlawful social media policy and to post NLRB notices at its 52 facilities nationwide, as well as to mail notices to employees, advising them that they will not be prohibited from using social media to discuss their terms and conditions of employment.

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No2UAW: workers taking things into their own hands

The NLRB election to determine if workers at the Volkswagon plant in Chattanooga Tennessee wanted to be represented by the UAW union is over. THe workers voted against union representation, but the fight is far from over. The UAW has announced they are pursuing all legal options, and they will likely file objections to the election this week. Stay tuned on that.

In the meantime, I thought it would be interesting to pull back the curtain and share a little bit about what it looks like inside an
election like this.

It’s seriously disruptive, and unsettling to your workforce and your management team. Think turmoil, fear and bitterness. Does that sound like the culture you want in play in your workplace? I didn’t think so. Far better to stay far far away from this stuff if possible, but that’s not always the case.

Look at VW. 626 employees voted for the union. 712 against. Only 89% of the workforce voted, so some people stayed on the fence or just chose to sit it out on the sidelines.

In a very non-traditional move, Volkswagon allowed union organizers on site to hold meetings with employees. VW also signed a neutrality agreement, basically agreeing to not fight the UAW organizing effort.

So how did the UAW lose?

Those 712 VW employees who didn’t want a union formed an effective, well organized resistance to the UAW/VW collusion and prevailed. They held their own meetings off-site. They evangelized their issue effectively. They used social media effectively, and they prevailed against a deck that was heavily stacked against them.

Their website is robust, and very interesting to read if you want to see more detail on this entire campaign. No2UAW.com. They also have a Facebook community with over 500 members called “no2UAW” which is open to the public. Go check them out.

What follows below is a clipped portion from the No2UAW website. It’s a listing by title only (no links) to some of the materials distributed to VW employees by the Vote No group during the campaign. You can get to the links by clicking through to No2UAW.

HANDOUTS

Print these off and circle the parts you want any disbelieving co-worker to understand. These are undisputable facts. Use them as a wake-up call to those who have sweetly lied to.
_____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____

The UAW is a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing – The UAW has told us a lot of things that just are not true.

Your Legal Rights and Will History Repeat Itself? – We already have rights that the UAW says they can give us. Westmoreland, NUMMI and Spring Hill believed them, It did not go well.

Set One – Top Questions We Deserve Answers to Before We Vote
Set Two – More Top Questions We Deserve Answers to Before We Vote

Making an Informed Decision about UAW at VW Chattanooga – Q&A sheet

UAW Promises vs. Reality – Wage Info. Ask them to put it in writing and sign this sheet!
Top Ten Reasons to Vote No 2 the UAW

Articles to Print Off

German auto union splits GM-Opel workforce –

German union seals shutdown of GM-Opel’s Bochum plant –

UAW chief stabs German Opel workers in the back –

Germany: A new capitulation by the IG Metall union to Opel management –

Should Volkswagen fear unionization at its Chattanooga plant? –

Volkswagen Chattanooga: VW management believed to be split over UAW –

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Labor Relations Round ’em up, head ’em out…Rawhide! #NLRB

Labor Relations Roundup

Chicago
Chicago (Photo credits: www.roadtrafficsigns.com)

I’ve been on a roll with NLRB posts this week, so it makes sense to finish up a few more tidbits from the wonderful wacky world of the National Labor Relations Board.

Voting at Volkswagon ends tonight

We’ll know late tonight whether or not the UAW has finally achieved their long cherished objective to organize an automotive plant located in a southern state here in the US.  At least, we’ll know the outcome of act one, the legal curtain won’t drop on this one for a long time.  Polls close at 8:30 PM. stay tuned.

NLRB hearing begins in NU football players’ quest for union

Then there’s the football union thing…

The Chicago Sun-Time reports that the NLRB conducted a hearing regarding the effort by student athletes at Northwestern University seeking to organize a union to represent their interests as football players for the school.  The hearing was held at the NLRB’s Chicago office.

An attorney representing the College Athletes Players Association, which the Wildcats players started, said CAPA is not alleging that Northwestern University has violated NCAA rules.

Instead, he said CAPA intends to “demolish the myth” created by the NCAA that student-athletes — who receive scholarships, bring in “billions of dollars of revenue” to their schools and spend more than 40 hours a week in their sports training and activities — are not employees.

Northwestern University’s attorney, Alex V. Barbour, argued that the players are students first and foremost and that their scholarships provide an educational experience. He cited a 2004 NLRB case in which graduate-student teachers at Brown University were deemed to have no right to unionize.

NLRB Says Union Not Responsible For Member Facebook Posts

and there’s another NLRB Facebook thing in which the Board says it’s ok to call your fellow union members “scabs”.  The Board  ruled that it would not require a union local to take down negative Facebook comments on a union Facebook in which some workers directed negative comments towards co-workers who crossed a picket line during a strike.

 

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The NLRB is getting into some big briefs

English: Black and white logo of the National ...
English: Black and white logo of the National Labor Relations Board, an independent agency of the United States federal government. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NLRB requesting briefs on several topics

The NLRB has been busy lately asking for briefs related topics where they will be making some big changes. Last week it was a request for briefs on the proposed rule changes for union certification elections. This week they are requesting briefs related to the status of university employees under the act under certain circumstances.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Representation-Case Procedures

The National Labor Relations Board (Board) has proposed amending its rules and regulations governing representation-case procedures. The proposed amendments are intended to enable the Board to more effectively administer the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Specifically, the proposal would modernize and simplify representation-case procedures and render them more transparent and uniform across regions. Issuance of the proposed rule was approved by Board Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and Members Kent Y. Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer. Board Members Philip A. Miscimarra and Harry I. Johnson III dissented.

The Board has periodically reviewed and revised its procedures in representation cases in order to efficiently carry out its duties under NLRA. Since the NLRA was enacted in 1935, the Board has amended its representation case rules at least three dozen times, often in substantial ways. The proposed reforms represent the Board’s latest effort to improve its service to the public.

The Board invites comments on the proposal. Comments may be submitted until April 7, 2014, either electronically through www.Regulations.gov or by mail to the Board’s Washington D.C. headquarters. Reply comments may be submitted by April 14, 2014. In addition, the Board will hold a public hearing during the week of April 7, 2014.

Board invites briefs regarding religious university jurisdiction and faculty member status

The National Labor Relations Board is inviting briefs from interested parties on two questions: whether a religiously-affiliated university is subject to the Board’s jurisdiction, and whether certain university faculty members seeking to be represented by a union are employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act or excluded managerial employees. Click here to view the invitation for briefs.

The case is Pacific Lutheran University (19-RC-102521). At this Tacoma, Washington-based university, the Service Employees International Union, Local 925 filed a petition to represent a unit of all non-tenure-eligible contingent faculty who taught a certain number of hours. The university argues that the Board lacks jurisdiction because the university is a religiously-operated institution that is not subject to the Act, and that certain faculty in the petitioned-for unit are managers. In its invitation, the Board listed three questions to be addressed concerning jurisdiction, including what test the Board should apply under NLRB v. Catholic Bishop, 440 U.S. 490 (1979), to determine whether self-identified “religiously affiliated educational institutions” are exempt from the Board’s jurisdiction, and what factors the Board should consider in determining the appropriate standard for evaluating jurisdiction under that case. The Board listed nine questions that the briefs should address concerning the standard under NLRB v. Yeshiva University, 444 U.S. 672 (1980).

Briefs should be filed with the Board on or before March 28, 2014. The parties and amici may file briefs electronically at http://mynlrb.nlrb.gov/efile. If assistance is needed in filing through http://mynlrb.nlrb.gov/efile, please contact Gary W. Shinners, Executive Secretary, National Labor Relations Board.

The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency vested with the power to safeguard employees’ rights to organize and to determine whether to have unions as their bargaining representative. The agency also acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions.

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Breaking: #NLRB posts new quickie election rules

The National Labor Relations Board Proposes Amendments to Improve Representation Case Procedures

See the entire 184 page proposal here.

Office of Public Affairs

202-273-1991
publicinfo@nlrb.gov
www.nlrb.gov

February 5, 2014

The National Labor Relations Board announced today that it is issuing proposed amendments to its rules and regulations governing representation-case procedures.  In substance, the proposed amendments are identical to the representation procedure changes first proposed in June of 2011. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) will appear in the Federal Register tomorrow.  The proposals are intended to enable the Board to more effectively administer the National Labor Relations Act.  Specifically, the NPRM presents a number of changes to the Board’s representation case procedures aimed at modernizing processes, enhancing transparency and eliminating unnecessary litigation and delay.  Issuance of the proposed rule was approved by Board Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce and Members Kent Y. Hirozawa and Nancy Schiffer.  Board Members Philip A. Miscimarra and Harry I. Johnson III dissented.

In announcing the proposals, Pearce said:  “The Board is unanimous in its support for effective representation case procedures.  I am pleased that all Members share a commitment to constructive dialogue, and we all agree that important issues are involved in this proposed rulemaking. With a Senate-confirmed five-member Board, I feel it is important for the Board to fully consider public comment on these proposed amendments, along with the comments we previously received in 2011. These amendments would modernize the representation case process and fulfill the promise of the National Labor Relations Act.”

“I believe that the NPRM first proposed in June of 2011 continues to best frame the issues and raises the appropriate concerns for public comment,” Pearce said.  He stressed that the Board is reviewing the proposed changes with an open mind:  “No final decisions have been made.  We will review all of the comments filed in response to the original proposals, so the public will not have to duplicate its prior efforts in order to have those earlier comments considered.  Re-issuing the 2011 proposals is the most efficient and effective rulemaking process at this time.”

“Unnecessary delay and inefficiencies hurt both employees and employers.  These proposals are intended to improve the process for all parties, in all cases, whether non-union employees are seeking a union to represent them or unionized employees are seeking to decertify a union,” Pearce said.  “We look forward to further exchanges of ideas to improve the processes in a way that will benefit workers, employers and all of the American people.”

The reforms the Board will propose would:

  • allow for electronic filing and transmission of election petitions and other documents;
  • ensure that employees, employers and unions receive and exchange timely information they need to understand and participate in the representation case process;
  • streamline pre- and post-election procedures to facilitate agreement and eliminate unnecessary litigation;
  • include telephone numbers and email addresses in voter lists to enable parties to the election to be able to communicate with voters using modern technology; and
  • consolidate all election-related appeals to the Board into a single post-election appeals process.

The previous NPRM was published on June 22, 2011.  After considering the input provided in response, the Board had announced on December 22, 2011 that it was going to implement a final rule adopting some of those proposed amendments and defer the remainder for further consideration.  That final rule was invalidated by a District Court ruling that it had been adopted without a validly constituted quorum.  The Board’s appeal of that ruling was dismissed, pursuant to a joint stipulation, on December 9, 2013.

The public is invited to comment on the proposed changes.  The deadline for comments is April 7, 2014.  Reply comments to the initial comments may be filed by April 14, 2014. Details on how to submit comments are set forth in the NPRM.  In addition, the Board will hold a public hearing during the week of April 7, at which members of the public may address the proposed amendments and make other suggestions for improving the Board’s representation case procedures.

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Breaking: NLRB petition for union filed by college football team

“Amateur” athletes seek union representation

Northwestern University
Northwestern University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In an unprecedented move, a group of college football players at Northwestern University, led by their quarterback Kain Colter have filed a petition with the NLRB to form a union, according to a story reported on ESPN’s Outside the Lines:

Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, filed a petition in Chicago on behalf of football players at Northwestern University, submitting the form at the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board.

Backed by the United Steelworkers union, Huma also filed union cards signed by an undisclosed number of Northwestern players with the NLRB — the federal statutory body that recognizes groups that seek collective bargaining rights.

eKain Colter

 

“This is about finally giving college athletes a seat at the table,” said Huma, a former UCLA linebacker, who created the NCPA as an advocacy group in 2001. “Athletes deserve an equal voice when it comes to their physical, academic and financial protections.”

This promises to get all kinds of interesting since the amateur status of college athletes purports that they are not paid for playing.  Since unions typically represent workers regarding wages, benefits and terms and conditions of employment, this threatens to break the NCAA model wide open.

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NLRB decides not to seek appeal on workplace notice posting rule

NLRB sends out press release on employee right to join or not join a union

This press release from the NLRB details their reasoning for not filing an appeal on a U.S. Court of Appeals decision that invalidated their proposed rule requiring most private sector employers in the United States to post a notice about employee rights to unionize.  The rule was opposed by the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups for being too one sided regarding the right to unionize, when the National Labor Relations Act clearly states that employees have a right to choose to be represented by a union for the purposes of collective bargaining, or to choose not to be represented.

The press release actually does a pretty good job of making that crucial distinction clear.  You can view the complete press release online here.

The NLRB’s Notice Posting Rule

January 6, 2014

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has decided not to seek Supreme Court review of two U.S. Court of Appeals decisions invalidating the NLRB’s Notice Posting Rule, which would have required most private sector employers to post a notice of employee rights in the workplace.

The NLRB remains committed to ensuring that workers, businesses and labor organizations are informed of their rights and obligations under the National Labor Relations Act. Therefore, the NLRB will continue its national outreach program to educate the American public about the statute.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stated: “[I]t is also without question that the Board is free to post the same message [that is on the poster at issue] on its website.” The workplace poster remains available on the NLRB website. It may be viewed, displayed and disseminated voluntarily. In addition, the NLRB has established a free NLRB mobile app for iPhone and Android users to provide the public with information about the National Labor Relations Act.

Under the National Labor Relations Act, most private sector employees have the right to:

  • Organize a union to negotiate with employers concerning wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.
  • Form, join or assist a union.
  • Bargain collectively through representatives of employees’ own choosing for a contract setting wages, benefits, hours, and other working conditions.
  • Discuss terms and conditions of employment or union organizing with co-workers or a union.
  • Engage in protected concerted activities with one or more co-workers to improve wages, benefits and other working conditions.
  • Choose not to do any of these activities, including joining or remaining a member of a union.

 

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NLRB issues Walmart press release

NLRB Office of the General Counsel Authorizes Complaints against Walmart, Also Finds No Merit to Other Charges

The following press release was issued by the National Labor Relations Board this afternoon.  More sure to be forthcoming.

Office of Public Affairs
202-273-1991
publicinfo@nlrb.gov
www.nlrb.gov

NLRB Office of the General Counsel Authorizes Complaints against Walmart, Also Finds No Merit to Other Charges

The National Labor Relations Board Office of the General Counsel has investigated charges alleging that Walmart violated the rights of its employees as a result of activities surrounding employee protests. The Office of the General Counsel found merit in some of the charges and no merit in others. The Office of the General Counsel has authorized complaints on alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act. If the parties cannot reach settlements in these cases, complaints will issue.

The Office of the General Counsel found merit to alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act against Walmart, such as the following:

  • During two national television news broadcasts and in statements to employees at Walmart stores in California and Texas, Walmart unlawfully threatened employees with reprisal if they engaged in strikes and protests on November 22, 2012.
  • Walmart stores in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Washington unlawfully threatened, disciplined, and/or terminated employees for having engaged in legally protected strikes and protests.
  • Walmart stores in California, Florida, Missouri and Texas unlawfully threatened, surveilled, disciplined, and/or terminated employees in anticipation of or in response to employees’ other protected concerted activities.

The Office of the General Counsel found no merit, absent appeal, to alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act against Walmart, such as the following:

  • Walmart stores in Illinois and Texas did not interfere with their employees’ right to strike by telling large groups of non-employee protestors to move from Walmart’s property to public property, pursuant to a lawful Solicitation and Distribution policy, where the groups contained only a small number of employees who either did not seek to stay on Walmart’s property or were permitted to remain without non-employee protesters.
  • Walmart stores in California and Washington did not unlawfully change work schedules, disparately apply their policies, or otherwise coerce employees in retaliation for their exercise of statutory rights.

The National Labor Relations Act guarantees the right of private sector employees to act together to try to improve their wages and working conditions with or without a union.

 

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Walking Dead returns Sunday, but the Zombie NLRB is already here

English: Zombies in Moscow
English: Zombies in Moscow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zombies walk among us

The season 4 premiere of The Walking Dead airs on AMC this coming Sunday, but apparently the Zombie Apocalypse got has already begun in Washington DC. The shutdown of the Federal government is creating some truly terrifying results, including the creation of zombie agencies like the NLRB – operating with what is literally a skeleton crew consisting of the top leadership. For now anyway, the message from the NLRB is “Don’t call us, we’ll cal you…after the shutdown is over.”

Check out more in this report from the  HuffPo Politics page:

The federal agency that enforces labor law on companies and unions has been almost entirely shuttered since the government shutdown began, delaying union elections and stalling the investigation of unfair labor practices. The National Labor Relations Board was nearly derailed earlier this year due to fights in Congress and the courts over President Obama’s recess appointments to the board. Although the agency survived that political spat intact, it isn’t faring so well during the shutdown. Out of more than 1,600 employees, the agency planned to furlough all but 11 of them in the case of government closure, leaving less than 1 percent of its workforce as “excepted” shutdown personnel, according to the agency’s contingency plan. That would mean the federal agency is working with fewer employees nationwide than the individual D.C. offices of certain senators, many of whom have deemed their entire staffs excepted personnel during the shutdown. Ten senators — seven Republicans, including Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), and three Democrats — haven’t furloughed any staffers at all, according to a HuffPost count. The NLRB’s functioning staff includes the five members of the independent board itself, its acting general counsel and a handful of other high-level personnel in Washington. The lawyers and other employees in the agency’s regional offices throughout the country — who perform the nuts and bolts of investigation and enforcement — would have been sent home. An NLRB spokesman, speaking in a message left on his office voicemail, said the agency is closed for business and won’t be responding to calls until the shutdown is over. Here is a helpful post regarding the ramifications of the shutdown related to business with the NLRB, from the law firm Epstein Becker Green:

On Monday October 1, 2013, the Board published a Notice in the Federal Register to the NLRB’s website that supplements the effects of the Contingency Plan that we examined at outset of the government shutdown and NLRB furlough. Significantly, the Notice answers some of the important practical questions confronting employers, unions and employees with business before the Board. With respect to time limits for filings with the agency, according to the Notice, the Board has unilaterally granted an extension of the time to file or serve most documents (with some exceptions) equal to the number of days (including partial days) that the shutdown lasts. With regards to representation elections and hearings scheduled for October 1 – 11, they are postponed indefinitely. Significantly, the Notice makes clear that the extension of time does not apply to the 6-month statute of limitations applicable to filing charges under Section 10(b) of the National Labor Relations Act. In the Notice, the Board recommends that anyone who wishes to file a charge while the NLRB is shut down do so by faxing a copy of the charge to the appropriate Regional Office. Anyone doing this would be well advised to keep records and evidence such as confirmations of transmittal, so that they can, if necessary, show when their charges were sent to and received by the Board’s fax numbers. As frustration with the furlough continues to mount, it seems the agency has taken action that, whether intentionally or inadvertently, is likely to aggravate the impact of the shutdown on the labor and management communities by prohibiting public access to existing resources such as the research and other informational functions typically available on the Board’s website. While we do not know whether this was required by the Contingency Plan or some other dictate, it is worth noting that at least at this time, the websites of other federal agencies in the labor and employment arena, such as those of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and the Department of Labor’s, remain functional

 

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