It is already an arduous process for employees to remove an unwanted union from their workplace. And now the International Association of Machinists is requesting that the National Labor Relations Board overturn established Board precedent to make it even more difficult.
To no one’s surprise, the pro-union Board majority is willing to listen to the IAM counsel’s argument. And considering the bias nature of Board members, as evident in former NLRB member John Raudabaugh’s tracking of NLRB member voting patterns in FY 2015 and 2014 and Law Professor Joan Fylnn’s analysis of member voting records from 1985-2000, a ruling in favor of IAM is more than possible.
Currently, under the Board precedent established in Truserv Corp., a petition to decertify a union is blocked while there is an outstanding unfair labor practice charge against the employer. However, if the unfair labor practice is settled without the admission of a violation by the employer and absent a finding of a violation of the National Labor Relations Act, then the union decertification process is allowed to advance.
In Truserv Corp., the Board majority decision stated:
there is no basis for dismissing a petition based on a settlement of alleged but unproven unfair labor practices. To do so would unfairly give determinative weight to allegations of unlawful conduct and be in derogation of employee rights under Section 7 of the Act.
It is important to note that Section 7 of the NLRA grants employees an equal right to join a union and to refrain from such activity.
On August 16, 2013, IAM union officials filed federal charges against Bradken during a contract dispute. On August 30, 2013, Fuller and his coworkers filed a petition seeking a decertification election to determine their union representation. On April 23, 2014, an NLRB Regional Director approved an agreement between IAM and Bradken officials that settled the union’s charges with no admission of liability by Bradken. On June 5, the Regional Director ruled based on long-standing NLRB precedent that the facility’s approximately ninety-eight workers could vote in a decertification election, which was held on July 1 despite IAM union officials’ objections.
On June 24, 2014, the IAM filed a request for review with the NLRB, which resulted in the NLRB impounding the decertification election ballots.
True to form, on October 10, 2014, the NLRB accepted the IAM’s request for review, causing the ballots to remain impounded.
If the NLRB accepts the union bid to overturn Board precedent, the workers’ ballots will never be counted and the unwanted union will remain their monopoly representative. A severe infringement on workers’ rights to determine their own representation.
This is not the first, or last, time the current NLRB has used its power to tilt the playing field in favor of unions at the expense of worker freedom. The Board will continue to act in favor of management or labor depending on which party occupies the White House, the opposite of what Congress intended, unless the NLRB is reformed or preferably eliminated.