Manufacturer's Anti-Union Messages in Meetings Support Unfair Labor Practice Charges

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

April 5, 2018

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld National Labor Relation Board (NLRB) findings that an aluminum manufacturer committed multiple unfair labor practices (ULPs) before and after a union election. However, the court denied enforcement of a bargaining order issued to remedy the ULPs, ruling that the Board did not fully take into account events occurring between the time of the unfair labor practices and its order.

Following a 2013 union organizing election that the union lost by just 14 out of nearly 600 votes, the NLRB determined that Novelis Corporation, a rolled-aluminum product manufacturer, had interfered with the election by holding three mandatory meetings during which company leaders had suggested that unionizing would lead to a loss of business. During the meetings, the leaders reminded employees that Novelis' unionized plant in Quebec had closed and implied that voting in favor of a union could result in possible layoffs or a closing.

Just days before the vote, the company also restored bonuses that had previously been cancelled. And following the election, one of the employees who had been a primary union supporter was demoted. Based on these findings, the NLRB ordered the employer to reinstate the employee to his previous position and to bargain with the union.

On review, the 2nd Circuit found that the NLRB's findings were supported by substantial evidence and upheld the order to reinstate the employee to his prior job. However, the court vacated the bargaining order, noting that the Board must consider the circumstances at the workplace "at the time of the issuance of a bargaining order and not at the time of the election," and there had been a one-third turnover of both the management and employees of the plant by the time the bargaining order was issued.