Labor Relations Update

Information requests in the realm of labor relations are simple in theory but can be complicated in practice.  We have seen how the topics of information sought by a union can cause skirmishes, sometimes deliberately so.  We also have seen that it almost never is a good idea for a party to just deny a request for relevant information on the grounds of “confidentiality” or privacy concerns without first trying to reach an accommodation. Many times, the reasons…
Colleges and universities should take note of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s recent decision in University of Southern California v. National Labor Relations Board, Case No. 17-1149 (D.C. Cir. Mar. 12, 2019) addressing whether non-tenure track faculty at universities are “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), giving them the right to form a union, or whether they are “managers” and thus exempt from coverage under the NLRA. In its decision,…
During the last decade, a number of NLRB decisions faulted employers for written policies that were considered to be overbroad in violation of the National Labor Relations Act.  These rulings sprang largely from the NLRB’s decision in Lutheran Heritage Village-Livonia, 343 NLRB 646 (2004), where the Board set forth a standard for evaluating the lawfulness of employer policies that did not directly implicate Section 7 rights.  The Board in Lutheran Heritage held it evaluated otherwise lawful language to determine…
An employer’s duty to provide information to the union representing its employees is a frequent of topic of interest to labor relations practitioners because it is very easy to violate the law.  For example, an employer’s assertion that the information is confidential is not enough to justify failing to turn over the information.  And, for a brief period of time we even saw it become unlawful for an employer to fail to respond to an information request even though…
How the NLRB treats employer statements made to employees in the context of union organizing or other protected activity has been a frequent topic of discussion.  While the actual case law analyzing the coerciveness of an employer statement has not changed, the lawfulness of the statement often depends on the make-up of the Board at the time the case is reviewed.  In the last few years, we have seen how the NLRB had a tendency to rigidly treat an employer’s…
On February 4, the NLRB granted United Federation of Teachers, Local 2, AFT, AFL-CIO’s (the “Union”) request for review of the Regional Director’s Decision and Direction of Election concerning a decertification petition filed by several teachers at a charter school.  In so doing, the Board invited filing of briefs regarding whether the Board should decline jurisdiction over charter schools as a class under Section 14(c)(1) of the Act and modify or overrule its prior precedent…
The right of employees to band together for purposes of bringing grievances to their employer is at the very core of the National Labor Relations Act, as embodied in Section 7. This right is called protected concerted activity.  In order to determine whether an employee is, in fact, engaged in protected concerted activity, it is necessary to evaluate the factual circumstances surrounding the conduct.  As we’ve discussed, a single employee’s actions could  be deemed to fall within the definition…
On January 25, 2019, in a long-anticipated decision, the NLRB overturned another Obama-Board decision, FedEx Home Delivery, 361 NLRB 610 (2014), which modified the test for whether an individual is an “employee” or an independent contractor under the NLRA (read about that decision here).  The Board, in a 3-1 decision (Chairman Ring and Members Kaplan and Emanuel joined the majority; Member McFerran dissented), rejected the standard established in 2014 that limited the import…
There have been many precedent changing decisions coming from the NLRB in the last few years.  Few of these changes were more hotly contested, or farther reaching, than the Board’s decision in Browning-Ferris where it altered its longstanding joint employer test.  The new joint-employer test made it much more likely for a joint-employer relationship to be found to exist.  The decision was fairly rare (at least for the last few years) because it actually involved 5 members (voting 3-2), instead of…
We recently saw interesting decisions from the NLRB including cases about the employer’s duty to provide information about tax cuts, the lawfulness of litigation holds, and the validity of decertification petitions. At the end of December, a divided NLRB took on a case involving a union’s threat to picket a work location where multiple employers are present. In IBEW Local 357 (Convention Technical Services), 367 NLRB No. 61 (December 27, 2018), the Board addressed the legality of…