Tag Archive for: negotiations

NLRB begins requiring negotiation schedules as remedies in mandatory bargaining cases

Continuing its expansion of remedies available under the NLRA, the NLRB has begun to mandate that employers schedule negotiation meetings with unions and even submit to the NLRB post-negotiation status updates. See for example the NLRB’s recent decisions in Crushin’ It LLC Columbus Electric Cooperative, Inc. , and Amerigal Construction Co., Inc.

Here is an example of such language, taken from the Amerigal case:


Having found that the Respondent has engaged in certain unfair labor practices, we shall order it to cease and desist, to bargain on request with the Union and, if an understanding is reached, to embody the understanding in a signed agreement. To ensure that the employees are accorded the services of their selected bargaining agent for the period provided by law, we shall construe the initial period of the certification as beginning on the date the Respondent begins to bargain in good faith with the Union. Mar-Jac Poultry Co.136 NLRB 785 (1962); accord [*4] Burnett Construction Co.149 NLRB 1419 , 1421 (1964), enfd. 350 F.2d 57 (10th Cir. 1965); Lamar Hotel140 NLRB 226 , 229 (1962), enfd. 328 F.2d 600 (5th Cir. 1964), cert. denied 379 U.S. 817 (1964).

Further, having found that the Respondent violated Section 8(a)(5) and (1) by failing and refusing to furnish the Union with requested information that is necessary for and relevant to the Union’s performance of its duties as the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of the unit employees, we shall order the Respondent to furnish the Union with the information that it requested on July 26, 2022.

Additionally, the General Counsel requests that the Respondent be ordered to comply with a bargaining schedule requiring a minimum of 24 hours of bargaining per calendar month, for at least 6 hours per session, until an agreement or lawful impasse is reached or until the parties agree to a respite in bargaining. The General Counsel also requests that the Respondent be required to submit written bargaining progress reports to the Region and the Union every 15 days. As discussed above, the Respondent has unlawfully failed and refused to bargain with the Union for an initial collective-bargaining agreement despite the Union’s repeated requests to bargain over many months. In fact, the Respondent has failed and refused even to meet and/or to schedule any meetings to bargain since July 2022. It also has unlawfully failed and refused to furnish presumptively relevant information that goes to the core of the Union’s duties as the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of the unit employees. Given these circumstances, we find that a bargaining schedule requiring the Respondent to meet and bargain with the Union on a regular and timely basis is appropriate and would best effectuate the purposes of the Act. See Serenethos Care Center LLC d/b/a St. Christopher Convalescent Hospital371 NLRB No. 54 , slip op. at 2-3 (2022) (ordering employer to comply with a bargaining schedule to remedy its unlawful conduct), enfd. mem. NLRB v. Serenethos Care Ctr. LLC, No. 22-70014 , [2022 BL 67034], 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 5285 (9th Cir. Feb. 28, 2022); All Seasons Climate Control, Inc.357 NLRB 718, 718 fn. 2 (2011) (same), enfd. mem. 540 Fed.Appx. 484 (6th Cir. 2013). Accordingly, we shall order the Respondent, within 15 days of the Union’s request, to bargain for a minimum of 24 hours of bargaining per calendar month, for at least 6 hours per session until the parties reach agreement, lawful impasse, or an agreed-upon respite in bargaining. We shall also require the Respondent to submit written bargaining progress reports to the compliance officer for Region 5 every 15 days and to serve copies of those reports on the Union.

The General Counsel also requests that the Respondent be ordered to mail a copy of the notice to its unit employees because these employees are construction workers who work primarily at locations away from the Respondent’s facility. The General Counsel asserts that a notice mailing is necessary to ensure that all unit employees are informed of the Board’s order. We agree that this remedy is particularly appropriate to the work situation here and shall order the Respondent to mail a copy of the notice to all unit employees employed since July 26, 2022, when the Respondent began its unlawful conduct. See Bevilacqua Asphalt Corp.[*5] 369 NLRB No. 96 , slip op. at 2 (2020) (ordering notice mailing where employer operated a quarry and asphalt plant and certain employees, particularly truckdrivers, did not regularly enter respondent’s office); Abramson, LLC345 NLRB 171, 171 fn. 3 (2005) (ordering notice mailing where unit employees worked on individual construction sites across a two-state region).4

NLRB returns to permitting employers to cease dues check-off collections during negotiations

Reversing its Obama-era decision, the Board has returned to its longstanding precedent of permitting employers to stop withholding dues, even as may have been required by a dues check-off clause in a collective bargaining agreement, once that agreement expires and the parties enter renewal negotiations.

In sum, we find that a dues-checkoff provision properly belongs to the limited category of mandatory bargaining subjects that are exclusively created by the contract and are enforceable through Section 8(a)(5) of the Act only for the duration of the contractual obligation created by the parties. There is no independent statutory obligation to check off and remit dues after expiration of a collective-bargaining agreement containing a checkoff provision, just as no such statutory obligation exists before parties enter into such an agreement. This holding and rationale apply even in the absence of a union-security provision in the same contract. Because we find that it would not be unjust to follow our normal approach when overruling precedent, we will apply our holding retroactively in this case and in other pending cases. We therefore find that the Respondent had no obligation under the Act to continue dues checkoff after the contract expired.

Source: Valley Hospital Medical Center, Inc. d/b/a Valley Hospital Medical Center, 368 NLRB No. 139 (2019).

Individual employee non-competes struck for failure to bargain with the workers’ union

Unionized employers may not implement unilateral changes to wages, hours and working conditions without first providing the union notice and an opportunity to bargain. A union is not required to bargain.

In a previous post this blog summarized a Sixth Circuit case, Detroit Edison, that held an employer, who gave notice, was not required to negotiate with a union that merely griped about changes without actually requesting negotiations.

In this case, the company failed to give notice. Instead the company simply started requiring union-represented employees to sign a confidentiality agreement that contained non-competes, invention assignment language, non-interference language, and non-solicits as to both employees and customers. While this type of agreement is not, itself, unusual in the American workplace, unionized employers need to remember that unions are the exclusive bargaining agent of represented workers, so the company must give notice of changes to wages, hours and working conditions, and if negotiations are requested, negotiate over the changes with the union.

Worse, this agreement contained an at-will disclaimer. Again, an at-will disclaimer is common in the American workplace, but here it contradicted the “just cause” discharge clause that the union had bargained for in its collective bargaining agreement with the company.

The D.C. Circuit had no difficulty upholding the NLRB’s decision against the company.

Furthermore, the Court affirmed the Board’s holding that the non-solicits were themselves violative of NLRA rights (under section 7 of the NLRA). (Section 7 rights apply even to employees who are not represented by a union.) Under section 7, employees have the right to engage in protected concerted activity to further their wages, hours and working conditions. Doing so through a union is just one way they may exercise this right. Another is to solicit support from a company’s customers by way of a customer boycott. Here the customer non-solicit prohibited employees from “directly or indirectly” soliciting customers “to terminate or otherwise alter his, her or its relationship with the Company.” This aspect of the Court’s ruling appears highly controversial. It remains to be seen if other courts will interpret section 7 so broadly as to bar a customer non-solicit like this.

The case was Minteq International, Inc. v. NLRB, case no. 16-1276 (D.C. Cir. 4/28/17).

Union gripes held not a request to bargain

Unionized employers may not implement unilateral changes to wages, hours and working conditions without first providing the union notice and an opportunity to bargain. A union is not required to bargain at that point. Unions often do not; many unilateral changes are everyday and, for unions, often involve no issue warranting negotiation.

In this case, the union, through its president, expressed discontent with a change, condescendingly threatening the company’s labor relations director with “a board charge honey.” He said he would “have to come to (company headquarters) for this one.” While he followed through with his threat to file a board charge, he did not actually request to negotiate, schedule a time to come to, much less go to corporate headquarters.

While a divided NLRB held that his expressions of discontent were sufficient to trigger negotiations, the Sixth Circuit disagreed. “These comments expressed disapproval, to be sure; but that establishes only protest,” the Court held.

The pertinent question is whether, in light of the record as a whole, they clearly signaled a request to bargain. On that point, they were at best ambiguous rather than clear.

The case was Ohio Edison Co. v. NLRB, case no. 15-1783 (6th Cir. 2/10/17).