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Judge Strikes Down NLRB Rule to Streamline Union Elections (Read More…)

By: Cynthia Foster - May 18, 2012

The National Labor Relations Board suffered another setback earlier this week when a federal judge in Washington, D.C., found that a new NLRB rule meant to streamline union representative elections didn’t meet procedural muster. The board announced Tuesday it was suspending the measure while evaluating its appeal options.

The rule, which took effect April 30, eliminated some roadblocks between employees deciding to unionize and the final election of those employees’ union representatives.  Previously, if disputes arose about who could vote in a union election, for example, hearings and briefings before the NLRB could be called. Those hearings could delay the elections for too long, union-side lawyers say, dragging out the process to the point that employees’ rights to unionize could be compromised. The new rule postpones most hearings until after the election, a change in process that management-side lawyers say will cut the time between calling for an election and actually having one in half — not enough time for employers to mount campaigns to address underlying issues that may be prompting the drive to unionize.

In response to a challenge filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled Monday that the board didn’t have the necessary quorum to make the decision on the elections — only two board members voted on the rule, and three votes are required.

“At the end of the day, while the court’s decision may seem unduly technical, the quorum requirement, as the Supreme Court has made clear, is no trifle,” Boasberg wrote in Chamber of Commerce v. NLRB, 11-2262. “Regardless of whether the final rule otherwise complies with the Constitution and the governing statute — let alone whether the amendments it contains are desirable from a policy perspective — the board lacked the authority to issue it, and, therefore, it cannot stand.”

In a memo to her union clients, lawyer Sheila Sexton at Beeson, Tayer & Bodine in Oakland called the decision an “insane triumph of form over function.” On Wednesday, she said clients of hers have already suffered because of the court decision.

“I’ve got these workers who had an election on May 31, and now we’ve got to restart everything,” she said.
NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce said in a statement Tuesday the board is “determined to move forward” with the new rule.

This is the second time in two months that an NLRB rule has been struck down by a judge. In April, a district judge in South Carolina ruled that a new NLRB requirement that businesses post a notice of employees’ rights to unionize and bargain collectively overstepped the board’s mandate in the National Labor Relations Act.

Union-side lawyer Caren Sencer, of Weinberg Roger & Rosenfeld, said Tuesday that she felt the suspension of the rule is only a “temporary problem” since the board could reconvene and vote with the required three members.

But reconvening and voting could be problematic in light of the bigger fight over whether the board is properly constituted.  In January, trade groups challenged the legality of President Obama’s so-called “recess appointments” as part of a lawsuit challenging another NLRB measure.  Although the first such attempt was ignored by D.C. U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson, in March the Chamber of Commerce joined a separate action calling for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to rule on the appointments.

Fred Alvarez, the head of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati’s employment litigation practice, said the court’s decision and the suspension of the rule mean that the board is being “tied up in knots.” Alvarez, who represents employers, added that the NLRB is “not going to be able to make the drastic changes that they’re trying to make” to unionization in the workplace.

Posted by Admin on 05/18 at 01:53 PM

Facing SEIU picket, Planned Parenthood cancels fundraiser (Read More…)

By Caroline May 05/11/2012

Trouble in liberal paradise.

It seems that the Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette (PPCW) in Portland, Ore. and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are in the midst of a little labor spat — but then nothing is little when it comes to either of these groups.

Last August, employees at the PPCW voted in favor of unionizing with the SEIU Local 49 in a National Labor Relations Board Election. The pair have been trying to work out a contract since November to no avail.

Due to frustrations with the slow contract process, the SEIU made plans to picket PPCW’s annual fundraising dinner scheduled for May 12 — a move that reportedly caused Oregon Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber to cancel his plans to attend the event, the Willamette Weekly reported.

“The governor will not cross the picket line and has canceled his appearance,” Kitzhaber spokesman Tim Raphael told Willamette Weekly.  The pressure caused PPCW to cancel the entire $250-per-plate event on Wednesday.

“It is with great disappointment that I write to let you know that we have decided to cancel our upcoming Spring Gala next Saturday, May 12,” David Greenberg, president and CEO of PPCW wrote in an email to supporters, obtained by Willamette Weekly.
“The decision by SEIU to picket our event has put many of our supporters into the untenable position of having to choose between two organizations, and two progressive causes, both of which they support,” Greenberg wrote, explaining that the organization wishes to respect their supporters’ allegiances to both groups.
The SEIU also rallied in front of a PPCW conference in late March.

“We’re here today because we’ve been bargaining since November 1, 2011,” explained Skye Frome, a registered nurse, at the time. ”And while we’ve made some progress, we have yet to see our most serious concerns addressed in any meaningful way. We’re here to show management that we’re serious about reaching a fair contract.”

In an ironic twist, the SEIU’s international executive vice president, Kirk Adams, is married to Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Neither group responded to The Daily Caller’s request for comment.

Posted by Admin on 05/12 at 10:41 AM