NLRB Reverses Yet Another 50-Year-Old Precedent

So Browning-Ferris wasn’t the only shady decision made by the NLRB last Thursday – they also ruled that employers must continue to deduct union dues from employee paychecks even after the collective bargaining agreement with management expires. The case was between SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin and Lincoln Lutheran of Racine.

The Board ruled that it was unlawful for Lincoln Lutheran to stop automatically withdrawing dues from its employees’ paychecks when their contract with the union expired. According to the Board, the employer must continue to deduct the dues “until the parties have either reached a successor collective-bargaining agreement or a valid overall bargaining impasse permits unilateral action by the employer.”

When asked to explain the decision, an NLRB spokesperson said the ruling was made in an effort to support the “goal of promoting collective bargaining.”

This ruling reverses a more than 50-year-old precedent. The Board originally ruled to overturn the 1962 Bethlehem Steel case in 2012, but

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Why I’m Not Sweating the BFI Decision

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I don’t think the sky is falling after BFI. A lot of the fears being discussed aren’t warranted. I also think there are a lot of unintended consequences that the unions and the NLRB didn’t really think about when pushing for this outcome. Unions may very well live to regret this change in the law.

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Labor Relations INK - August 2015

In this issue:

Growing Support for Unions Another One Bites The Dust Desperate Ploy Clear As Mud SEIU Watch, Sticky Fingers, Scoreboard, Insight and more…

The bottom of each story contains a link to the individual post on our site.

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Labor Relations Insight by Phil Wilson

Lately my family’s been watching – okay, binge-watching – the BBC series Sherlock. These brilliant retellings of the classic Conan Doyle tales are set in modern-day England. Every one grabs me, even though I already know the basic plot. Benedict Cumberbatch was born to play the socially inept but brilliant “consulting detective” Holmes. Martin Freeman, who plays Holmes’ friend and sidekick John Watson, is every bit as good as Cumberbatch. They are a much more entertaining duo here than when they played Bilbo and Smaug.

Watching Holmes make incredible deductions from evidence nobody else even sees never gets old. His detective skills are second to

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Another One Bites The Dust

A&PBy now the news is widespread – A&P Supermarkets, also known as Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co, is filing bankruptcy for the second time in their 156 years of business. The majority of media outlets are spewing competition and debt as the sole cause of the collapse of a company that at one point had 14,000 stores. That’s not the whole story.

Following the trajectory of Detroit’s auto industry and Pittsburgh’s steel companies, unions had a role to play in their demise. The increased expense associated with collective bargaining contracts and legacy costs makes it difficult, often impossible, for the company to make ends meet. Of A&P’s remaining 30,000 workers, 15,000 will be lucky to keep their jobs.

Union Bailout Update

As we are awaiting a ruling on the joint employer issue, the NLRB is determined to hide behind a veil of generalities rather than provide any useful guidelines as to just what has created the “joint employer” status in the McDonalds case. On Aug. 14th, the board affirmed the decision of an Administrative Law Judge to deny a motion by McDonalds for a bill of particulars. The decisions in the McDonalds and Browning Ferris cases will impact all businesses, not just franchisors. In case you missed our breaking new post of moments ago, the Browning Ferris decision just came down from the NLRB.

The NLRB continually bends over backwards to extend the benefit of the doubt to employees who misbehave on the job. In this latest incident, although the employee apparently lied about an injury, because the interview process with the employee did not include union representation, his dismissal

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BREAKING: NLRB Issues Browning Ferris Joint Employer Decision

From the NLRB Press release:

In a 3-2 decision involving Browning-Ferris Industries of California, the National Labor Relations Board refined its standard for determining joint-employer status. The revised standard is designed “to better effectuate the purposes of the Act in the current economic landscape.”  With more than 2.87 million of the nation’s workers employed through temporary agencies in August 2014, the Board held that its previous joint employer standard has failed to keep pace with changes in the workplace and economic circumstances.

In the decision, the Board applies long-established principles to find that two or more entities are joint employers of a single workforce if (1) they are both employers within the meaning of the common law;  and (2) they share or codetermine those matters governing the essential terms and conditions of employment. In evaluating whether an employer possesses sufficient control over employees to qualify as a joint employer, the

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Growing Support for Unions

According to a recent Gallup poll, support for labor unions is at its highest point in the last 7 years, and up 10 points from its all-time low in 2009 of 48% approval.

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It also seems folks would like unions to have a bit more influence, although barely over a third of the population falls into this category.

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Here’s how Gallup interprets the results:

With the economy continuing to do better than it did during the recession and the 2008 government bailout of two of the Big Three American auto companies — for which unions’ image may have suffered — fading further into history, Americans’ views of unions are largely restored to what they were six years ago. The

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Fight for 15

f-4-15Momentum has increased a degree or two over the last month. The Service Employees took the “fight” global, – shelling out some serious change to bring foreign legislators and union leaders to Brazil to protest McDonalds. San Antonio proposed to raise the minimum wage for city employees to $13. The University of California stated their intention to raise the minimum to $15 for all employees and contract workers. And last but not least, New York City passed a minimum of $15 for fast food workers. Let’s take a moment to point something out here – “fast food workers” – not all minimum wage workers (to include those in retail, custodial, clerical and landscaping industries). Nope, just fast food workers.

The interesting thing is that even those that support an increase in the minimum wage are having to make concessions

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Desperate Ploy

mea-notThe Michigan Education Association, desperate not to lose union dues as a result of Michigan’s recent implementation of right-to-work, found a way to stymie teachers attempting to opt out of paying dues.

First, the union has set up a tight window as to when teachers must notify the union of the desire to opt out, although there is no such restriction in the legislation. It is a very narrow window.

Then, the union quietly changed the address to which the request to opt out was to be mailed to be “officially received.” The notice of this change was at the very bottom of a members-only page of their website. Thus, many teachers who dutifully mailed their letters to the “wrong” address found themselves still owning dues for another year. The union response: “pay up or we’ll report you to credit agencies for non-payment!”

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Clear As Mud

Not only has the Michigan Education Association been shady with their handling of right-to-work opt out procedures, they have been less than transparent on their financial disclosures to the federal government.

MEA Executive Director Gretchen Dziadosz

MEA Executive Director Gretchen Dziadosz

The LM-2 form that unions must file has multiple sections with various categories to report all receipts and expenditures. One such category is “All Other Receipts.” This is for income that was received in quantities less than $5,000 and don’t fit into any other category on the form. Most unions report less than one percent of their income on this line – most unions except the MEA.

On their 2014 report, MEA categorized $30 million, 30% of their income, under “All Other Receipts.” In order for this to make sense legally, the union would have had to receive,

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