(Thank you to our Baker McKenzie colleagues in Mexico for sharing this alert.)

As a result of a change in government leadership and recently signed laws and treaties, companies in Mexico now have an important “to do” for 2019: prepare to review any unions that are “on the books” and assess compliance in this new environment.

What are “White Unions”?

  • White Unions in Mexico are usually employer-friendly unions that — due to current legislation deficiencies — can effectively bar entry of other unions who might otherwise attempt to gain a foothold in the workplace. They have little to no actual membership and do not actively represent workers. Historically, any union could petition for unionization without the need to prove the support of workers.

What changed?

Continue Reading Companies Doing Business In Mexico Need To Revisit Union Relationships

A recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board left experienced labor practitioners scratching their heads. In Tschiggfrie Properties Ltd. v. NLRB, a three-member panel of the Eighth Circuit did more.

The panel vacated the NLRB’s decision in a case involving an employee who was fired for abusing his employer’s Wi-Fi and for sleeping on the job. (The same employee also initiated the process of unionizing the workforce and served as an observer for the union election.) Before the appellate court, the NLRB unsuccessfully argued that a showing of a nexus, or a link between the employee’s protected activity and the adverse employment action, was not required to satisfy the employee’s initial burden in a wrongful termination case. The Eighth Circuit found that the NLRB misapplied the burden of proof, vacated the NLRB’s order and remanded the case with instructions to reconsider whether the general counsel could make the appropriate showing.

Click here to read more about this case, the reminder its decision serves and next steps employers should take.

Mark Twain famously said: “Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.” So it is true with reports that employers can breathe easier with the new Trump National Labor Relations Board.

The recent decision in Circus Circus Casinos Inc. is a stark reminder that even as the mid-term elections in the Trump presidency approach, the Obama era, at least at the NLRB, is not over. The decision in Circus Circus imposes on employers an additional administrative step to clear before conducting investigatory interviews during the disciplinary process. After receiving a signal (even if not a direct request) that an employee desires representation, employers may not proceed with interviews until a union representative can be identified and obtained.

Click here to read on.

Manufacturers and retailers that have long relied on a complex web of contractors and subcontractors to supply necessary parts and materials may face a new risk. A recent decision limiting the effectiveness of a no-strike clause in a collective bargaining agreement may create an additional risk to that supply chain, if not to the employer’s own uninterrupted operations.

No-Strike Clauses

  • Most CBAs contain some form of a no-strike clause. They are intended to protect against any interruption to production due to labor unrest during the term of the agreement.
  • The Supreme Court has long deemed a strike in violation of a no-strike clause a breach of the collective agreement which a federal district court could enjoin.
  • BUT — that assumption may no longer be wholly valid as demonstrated by a recent decision by a federal district court. Just Born, Inc. v. Local Union No. 6, Bakery Workers, 2017 BL 466136 (ED Pa. 2017).

Continue Reading Supply Chain Interruption Risk From Mid-Term Strikes

The NLRB closed out its busy week of reversing Obama-era standards in two more high-profile decisions, this time addressing the duty to bargain and bargaining unit determination (see our previous post covering work rule and joint employer standards). On Chairman Phillip Miscimarra’s final day in office, the Board’s two key decisions: (1) returned to a standard returning to broader employer rights to make unilateral changes without providing a union notice and an opportunity to bargain; and (2) eliminated the “micro-unit” bargaining unit standard that constricted employers’ ability to expand proposed bargaining units to include other employees who share a community of interest with those of the proposed unit.

Impact on Employers

The return to previous standards of unilateral change analysis will allow employers more discretion in changing terms of employment consistent with past practice. This benefit to employers most commonly arises with company-wide changes to health insurance plans. Under the previous standard, an employer could be forced to delay implementation of health insurance changes until it had provided notice to the union and an opportunity to bargain, even in the face of longstanding past practice. Many employers with medical plans covering union and non-union employees will have less interruption during open enrollment plan changes.

Elimination of the “micro-unit” standard of bargaining unit appropriateness substantially reduces a union’s ability to cherry pick favorable groups of employees to win elections. Unit determination will return to a more holistic review of shared “community of interest” rather than proceeding based on the union’s extent of organizing. Ultimately, the decision will give employers more ability to defend against union organizing campaigns and keep unions from obtaining representation through small pockets of employees amongst a larger department or facility.

Continue Reading NLRB Rounds Out Return To Pre-Obama Standards With Duty to Bargain And Unit Determination Decisions