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Unionbusters Score Big in ’05 with NLRB as Coach & Referee
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Written by Erin Johansson   
January 29, 2006

Last year was quite the year for anti-union employers.  The Republican majority of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) went out of its way to endorse the unscrupulous tactics of employers at the expense of workers’ rights.

We’ve shared many damaging Board rulings over the past year-including the now-infamous ‘happy hour’ decision.  But there were so many cases that deserved attention in 2005 that we chose to round up nine more for you. 

Board Decisions Read Like A Winning Playbook for Anti-Union Employers 

These cases show that instead of performing its mandate to serve as an impartial arbiter between workers, their unions, and employers, the Board appears to be acting as a crooked coach and biased referee—favoring employers’ interests over those of workers.  Thanks to the NLRB’s 2005 decisions, anti-union employers have an effective ‘unionbusting playbook’ that details how they can get away with coercive anti-union behavior.

Take a peak at these 2005 Board decisions to learn more about how workers’ rights are being handicapped.

Splurge on yourself, screw your workers 
After committing several unfair labor practices, a business owner drained over $1 million in company funds for himself.  By the time he was found guilty, the company had no assets left to pay employees the backpay owed to them for the illegal acts. 
The Board’s call:  The owner wasn’t personally liable for the money owed because the charges were filed after he began draining the funds.1

Unionbusters should feel free to make things up
An employer issued a veiled threat by "predicting" that if its employees decided to vote for the union, the union would take away the jobs of several employees.
The Board’s call:  The employer’s empty threat was lawful, even though the employer didn’t back up its ‘prediction’ with objective facts.2

Of course your scrap paper is worth protecting
An employee posted a notice for a union meeting on a piece of company scrap paper after his supervisor removed the original notice.  The company director then gave a strong warning to the employee for his use of company scrap paper. 
The Board’s call:  The manager’s warning was lawful because it had nothing to do with the employee’s union activity—the company was merely protecting its precious piece of scrap paper!3

Feigned ignorance is a suitable defense against firing pro-union employees
An employer fired five employees after they distributed union authorization cards.  When charges were brought against the company, the employer argued it knew nothing about the union activity of its employees.
The Board’s call:  The employer did not fire the workers because of their union activity, although employees had repeatedly told managers they had been speaking to a union representative.4

Employers are innocent, even if they prove themselves guilty
An employer ended a 40-year tradition of paying bonuses, claiming in a letter to employees that it was "unable to pay" the bonuses.  While employers who make an official inability-to-pay claim are required to show financial information to the employees’ union, the employer refused to provide the union with financial information substantiating the claim in its letter, and refused to bargain with the union over the decision. 
The Board’s call:  Despite writing that it was "unable to pay," the employer did not have to provide financial information because it did not make an actual inability-to-pay claim.5

When the boss says jump, jump. When the boss says don’t support the union…
An employer forced all new hires to watch an anti-union video while there was an effort at the worksite to decertify the existing workers’ union.  The video charged that employees turn to unions in order to hurt their bosses. 
The Board’s call:  The employer did not illegally support the decertification effort by coercing new hires into rejecting the union, as the video was merely expressing management’s opinion.6

Forget the facts, use propaganda at will
The week before a union election, an employer displayed giant posters with the word CLOSED written across images of shuttered plants, along with the message, "just a few examples of plants where the UAW used to represent employees.  Is this what the UAW calls job security?  VOTE NO!" 
The Board’s call:  the posters were legal, even though the employer failed to provide objective facts to back the implied assertion that the union was responsible for the plant closures, as the law requires.7

Freedom of speech doesn’t apply at the mall
Union activists were arrested at a mall for distributing leaflets and carrying signs to protest the wages and benefits paid by a contractor. The union filed charges that the mall’s ban on all noncommercial expressive activity on its exterior sidewalks was an unlawful restriction of freedom. 
The Board’s call:  The ban was lawful, in spite of the mall offering no evidence that such activities would interfere with normal business operations.8

No freedom of association for potty mouths
Bad language was regularly used by supervisors and employees at a worksite.  But after an employee cursed during the discussion of a union matter at work, he was given a written warning. 
The Board’s call: The employee lost his right to be protected against anti-union discrimination by his employer when he cursed.9

That caps our list of Board decisions that brightened the year for anti-union employers—let’s hope 2006 brings less pain to workers.  Don’t forget to check out other memorable cases from 2005 in our archives here.

Citations 

1. A.J. Mechanical, 345 NLRB 22 (2005).
2. Center Service System Division, 345 NLRB 45 (2005). 3. Johnson Technology, 345 NLRB 47 (2005).
4. Sacramento Recycling & Transfer Station, 345 NLRB 39 (2005).
5. Richmond Times-Dispatch, 345 NLRB 11 (2005).
6. Flying Foods, 345 NLRB 10 (2005).
7. Stanadyne Automotive Corp., 345 NLRB 6 (2005).
8. Macerich Management Co., 345 NLRB 34 (2005).
9. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 344 NLRB 154 (2005).

 

 
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