The majority of a company’s employees voted against union representation, but the NLRB says they can’t kick the union out. Why? Because an angry manager made some not-so-smart comments.
A recent decision handed down by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) illustrates how important it is for managers to choose their words wisely when a union rears its head.
A union was certified as the collective bargaining representative at a manufacturing plant in Alabama. Over the course of a year, union and employer reps met without coming to an agreement on a contract.
After their last bargaining session, a frustrated manager gave a speech in which he:
- told two employees to either cease filing unfair labor practice charges or seek employment elsewhere
- stated the company had paid lawyers more than $200,000 to defend itself against the labor charges, which was money that would’ve been spent on improving the plant, and
- suggested if the union had been more cooperative, employees would’ve received bigger bonuses.
Days after the speech, and a year after the union’s certification, a majority of the company’s employees signed a petition to kick the union out.
No dice, NLRB says
It looked like the union had one foot out the door until an NLRB panel said the manager made several statements that violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), including:
- an implied threat to discharge the two employees who filed the labor complaints, and
- the assertion that the union’s lack of cooperation resulted in lower employee bonuses.
Result: The petition to boot out the union didn’t stand. An NLRB panel said the employer couldn’t withdraw recognition from the union because the decertification petition was “tainted” because of the manager’s unlawful statements.
Cite: Mesker Door, Inc. and United Steelworkers of America
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