NLRB board agent: wrong to rely on NLRB website for advice
Washington, D.C. (November 15, 2018) – Today, a hospital employee in California filed a Request for Review with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, D.C. to overturn a Regional Director’s decision to invalidate his petition to remove the SEIU union from his workplace with a secret ballot vote. The worker, Andrew Brown, received free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys in filing his Request for Review.
In October, Brown, a surgical buyer at USC-Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale, California, petitioned for a vote to remove the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – United Healthcare Workers West union as monopoly bargaining agent for him and his coworkers. Despite having followed the NLRB website’s instructions on union decertification petitions, including collecting signatures from over 30 percent of his colleagues as required, union officials claimed Mr. Brown’s decertification petition was untimely.
In a decision dated October 25, the Director of NLRB Region 31 in Los Angeles agreed with the union. She held that the NLRB’s “contract bar” rules, with their confusing “window periods” that limit when employee petitions can be filed – 60-90 days before a contract expires in most workplaces but 90-120 days in healthcare settings – governed. The director held that Brown’s petition was two days late under these confusing rules. She also ruled that he was wrong to rely on the NLRB’s website for advice on calculating his filing dates. Brown, who did not have an attorney at the time, had followed instructions on the NLRB’s website and actually waited to file his petition based on what he understood was the first day he was allowed to do so.
The Request for Review asks the NLRB to overturn the Regional Director’s decision and permit Brown and his coworkers to vote on whether to oust the union. Brown not only argues that the decision to block his vote misapplied existing NLRB policies, but also asks the NLRB to end the existing policy restricting decertification petitions to a limited 30-day window.
In the Request for Review, Brown and his Foundation staff attorneys argue that the so-called “contract bar” rule is contrary to the stated purpose of the National Labor Relations Act which the NLRB is charged with administering, because the rule results in workers trapped in union monopoly ranks even when a majority of them oppose unionization. As Right to Work attorneys note, the “contract bar” is not authorized or even mentioned in the National Labor Relations Act.
The Request for Review also argues that the petition for a vote should be processed because Brown followed the advice on the NLRB website as best he could and still missed the purported deadline by fewer than 48 hours. The Request for Review argues that arbitrary rules, such as the “contract bar” rule cited by union officials to block Brown’s petition, create contradictory and confusing guidelines for rank-and-file workers to follow, and allow union officials to game the system to prevent workers from escaping from forced unionism ranks, even when a significant majority would vote a union out.
“It’s long past time for the NLRB to fundamentally reform its arbitrary rules used to trap workers in union forced dues ranks, even when a majority of workers oppose unionization,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “The so-called contract bar, like the other arbitrary limitations that are used to stop workers from even holding a vote to oust an unpopular union, has no basis in law—it’s simply a relic of past NLRB bureaucrats who put the power of union bosses ahead of the rights of workers that the National Labor Relations Act is supposed to protect.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.