Union officials leveraging so-called “merger doctrine” to block workers from exercising right to hold decertification vote to remove minority union
Coventry, RI (April 10, 2019) – With free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, a Rhode Island bus driver has petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to allow a vote to decertify his local union. The filing argues the Labor Board’s “merger doctrine” being applied to block the vote is contrary to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
Bradford Mayer, who works for school bus company First Student, Inc., circulated a decertification petition at his facility to remove Teamsters Local 251. He collected signatures from more than 30 percent of his colleagues at his workplace, as required to trigger an NLRB-supervised vote. However, Teamsters union officials moved to block the election on the grounds that Mayer and his colleagues were actually “merged” into a nationwide bargaining unit without their knowledge.
As his response to the NLRB notes, Mayer and his coworkers were unionized in a standalone local bargaining unit which has its own union contract. Thus they should be able to exercise their rights under the NLRA to remove the union. Instead, union officials take the position that they made a backroom deal with First Student, Inc. to “merge” the employees into a massive nationwide bargaining unit without their consent, despite the monopoly bargaining agreement not even referencing such a merger.
The “merger” effectively prevents any employee from organizing a decertification vote to reject representation by the union, which requires a worker to first obtain signatures from at least 30 percent of workers in the bargaining unit to hold a vote. Unlike paid union organizers, full time employees must collect signatures on their own time and are explicitly forbidden from receiving any meaningful assistance from management. Consequently, it is essentially impossible for workers to garner the necessary support at dozens of worksites spread around the country.
Mayer’s “Response to the Order to Show Cause” makes the point that workers have a clear legal right under the NLRA to hold a decertification vote in their workplace, and no agreement between company and union officials can waive that statutory right, which the secret merger agreement effectively does. The filing urges the NLRB to revisit the rules allowing union officials to impose such undemocratic “mergers” on workers as a means of creating decertification-proof bargaining units and promptly schedule a decertification vote for Mayer and his Rhode Island colleagues.
Various unions across the country have attempted to impose similar “mergers” before, relying on the NLRB-created “merger doctrine” as justification. Mayer’s petition calls on the NLRB to reject this so-called “merger doctrine,” because it has no basis in the NLRA and violates the act’s intended purpose of protecting employee free choice.
“Mr. Mayer and his colleagues should be allowed to decide freely whether they want to be represented by Teamsters Local 521,” says Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Union bosses have repeatedly used this so-called ‘merger doctrine’ to block workers, whom they claim to represent, from exercising their legal rights, so it is clearly time for the NLRB to reconsider this baseless rule.”
“For years the NLRB has created a web of bureaucratically created ‘rules’ not found in the National Labor Relations Act that block workers from removing unwanted unions from their workplace, and it is past time for this NLRB to move forward and stop the various games union bosses play to trap workers in unions opposed by a majority of employees,” Mix added.
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.