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Select events and news from the world of organized labor November 2018

USW and IBEW launching union organizing drive at Tesla’s Buffalo solar factory

Staff reports Dec 13, 2018

BUFFALO — The United Steelworkers and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers announced Thursday that workers at Tesla’s solar panel factory in Buffalo will hold a union organizing drive.

In 2013, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the solar manufacturing investment as part of his Buffalo Billion initiative at the Riverbend site. The announcement promised high-tech manufacturing jobs that would help change the economic landscape of Buffalo.

Recently, workers at the Tesla facility reached out to the USW about organizing. The USW and IBEW agreed to work with both production and maintenance employees in a joint organizing drive.

There are currently about 400 workers at Tesla’s Buffalo plant on the site of the former Republic Steel mill, where workers were represented by the USW.

“The only way we can ensure that we have a voice in the company and have equal rights across the board is with a union contract,” said Aaron Nippon, a member of the internal organizing committee. “We want to have a voice at Tesla so that we can have a better future for ourselves and our families.”

“I wanted to work at Tesla because I wanted a job in green energy, a job that can change the world,” said Rob Walsh, another organizing committee member. “But I also want a fair wage for my work.”

USW District 4 Director, John Shinn said that the workers’ concerns can be addressed while still maintaining the long-term viability of the facility.

“We’re committed to the continuing success of this facility,” said Shinn, “and to making sure that Tesla’s highly skilled work force has good, family-sustaining jobs. This historic USW site will be the model of how emerging clean technology manufacturing can provide such an opportunity for its workers.”

For the USW and IBEW, this campaign goes beyond the traditional organizing model. “We have partnered with the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York and the Coalition of Economic Justice, so together we can build a brighter Buffalo,” said Shinn.

“Western New York has a long tradition of unionization, and we want to see that tradition carry forward into the green jobs that are our future.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors.

Summary of NLRB Decisions for Week of November 26 – 30, 2018

The Summary of NLRB Decisions is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for the opinions of the NLRB.  Inquiries should be directed to the Office of the Executive Secretary at 202‑273‑1940.

Summarized Board Decisions

Station GVR Acquisition, LLC d/b/a Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa Casino  (28-CA-224209; 367 NLRB No. 38)  Henderson, NV, November 26, 2018.

The Board granted the General Counsel’s Motion for Summary Judgment in this test-of-certification case on the ground that the Respondent failed to raise any issues that were not, or could not have been, litigated in the underlying representation proceeding in which the Union was certified as the bargaining representative.  In granting the motion, the Board found that the Respondent violated Section 8(a)(5) and (1) for failing and refusing to recognize and bargain with the Union.

Charge filed by Local Joint Executive Board of Las Vegas aww UNITE HERE International Union.  Chairman Ring and Members McFerran and Emanuel participated.


TR & SNF, Inc. d/b/a The Nursing Center at University Village and TALF, Inc. d/b/a The Inn at University Village  (12-CA-216475; 367 NLRB No. 37)  Tampa, FL, November 28, 2018.

The Board granted the General Counsel’s Motion for Default Judgment based on the Respondent’s failure to file an answer to the complaint.  Accordingly, the Board ordered the Respondent to cease and desist from its unlawful conduct, and to bargain with the Union over the effects of its decision to cease its operations and to pay backpay in a manner similar to that required in Transmarine Navigation Corp., 170 NLRB 389 (1968).

Charge filed by 1199 SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East, Florida Region.  Chairman Ring and Members Kaplan and Emanuel participated.


TR & SNF, Inc. d/b/a The Nursing Center at University Village and TALF, Inc. d/b/a The Inn at University Village  (12-CA-170290; 367 NLRB No. 43)  Tampa, FL, November 29, 2018.

The Board granted the General Counsel’s Motion for Default Judgment based on the Respondent’s failure to comply with the terms of a settlement agreement.  The Board found that the Respondent violated Section 8(a)(5) and (1) by unilaterally implementing changes to unit employees’ health benefits.  The Board ordered the Respondent to comply with the unmet provisions of the settlement agreement by: on request of the Union, rescinding the unilateral changes to unit employees’ health benefits; making employees whole for those changes; and bargaining with the Union.

Charge filed by 1199 SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East, Florida Region.  Chairman Ring and Members Kaplan and Emanuel participated.


Rockwell Mining LLC  (09-CA-206434; 367 NLRB No. 39)  Wharton, WV, November 29, 2018.

The Board adopted the Administrative Law Judge’s dismissal of the complaint alleging that the Respondent violated Section 8(a)(3), (4), and (1) by suspending and discharging an employee who drove a truck off a mining road.  The Board specifically adopted the judge’s conclusion that the Respondent established that it would have suspended and discharged the employee even in the absence of his union activity.

Charge filed by United Mine Workers of America, International Union, AFL-CIO.  Administrative Law Judge Paul Boags issued his decision on June 4, 2018.  Chairman Ring and Members Kaplan and Emanuel participated.


Unpublished Board Decisions in Representation and Unfair Labor Practice Cases

R Cases

Pennsylvania American Water Co.  (06-RC-218527)  Pittsburgh, PANovember 29, 2018.  The Board denied the Employer’s and Intervenor’s Requests to Stay the election, or, alternatively, to impound the ballots.  Chairman Ring and Member Kaplan expressed no view with respect to the revisions made to the Board’s Election Rule, but agreed that it applied here and warranted denial of the requests.  Petitioner—Utility Workers United Association, Local 537.  Intervenor—Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, and its Local 537.  Chairman Ring and Members McFerran and Kaplan participated.

CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, LLC  (16-RC-229214)  Houston, TX, November 28, 2018.  The Board denied the Employer’s Motion to Stay Certification of Bargaining Representative.  Chairman Ring and Member Kaplan expressed no view with respect to the revisions made to the Board’s Election Rule, but agreed that it applied here and warranted denial of the Employer’s motion.  Petitioner—International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 66.  Chairman Ring and Members McFerran and Kaplan participated.

PCC Structural, Inc.  (19-RC-202188)  Portland, OR, November 28, 2018.  The Board denied the Employer’s Request for Review of the Regional Director’s Supplemental Decision as it raised no substantial issues warranting review.  On remand, the Regional Director relied on both the Board’s craft-unit case law and the community-of-interest analysis and found that the petitioned-for unit of welders was appropriate.  Petitioner—International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, District Lodge W24.  Members McFerran, Kaplan, and Emanuel participated.

C Cases

American Eagle Protective Services Corporation and Paragon Systems, Inc.  (05-CA-126739)  Washington, D.C., November 26, 2018.  The Board denied the Respondents’ Motion for Reconsideration of the Board’s Supplemental Decision and Order reported at 366 NLRB No. 144 (2018).  The Board found that the Respondents had not identified any material error or demonstrated extraordinary circumstances warranting reconsideration.  Charge filed by United Government Security Officers of America, Local 034, aww United Government Security Officers of America International Union.  Administrative Law Judge Eric M. Fine issued his decision on September 22, 2015.  Chairman Ring and Members McFerran and Kaplan participated. 

Corner Investment Company, LLC d/b/a The Cromwell  (28-CA-209739)  Las Vegas, NV, November 30, 2018.  No exceptions having been filed to the October 10, 2018 decision of Administrative Law Judge Kenneth W. Chu’s finding that the Respondent had not engaged in certain unfair labor practices, the Board adopted the judge’s findings and conclusions, and dismissed the complaint.  Charge filed by an individual.

Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 872, AFL-CIO (Penhall)  (28-CB-221154)  Las Vegas, NV, November 30, 2018.  The Board denied the Union’s Motion to Quash an investigative subpoena, finding that the subpoena sought information relevant to the matters under investigation and described with sufficient particularity the evidence sought.  The Board also found that the Union failed to establish any other legal basis for revoking the subpoena.  Charge filed by an individual.  Chairman Ring and Members McFerran and Kaplan participated.


Appellate Court Decisions

No Appellate Court Decisions involving Board Decisions to report.


Administrative Law Judge Decisions

Hilton Resorts Corporation d/b/a Elara  (28-CA-193521, et al.; JD(SF)-37-18)  Las Vegas, NV.  Administrative Law Judge Ariel L. Stooling issued his decision on November 26, 2018.  Charges filed by individuals and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 501, AFL-CIO.

Lamb Weston, Inc.  (15-CA-207924; JD-75-18)  Delhi, LA.  Administrative Law Judge Arthur J. Machan issued his decision on November 28, 2018.  Charge filed by an individual.

National Rural Letter Carriers Association (United States Postal Service)  (15-CB-213552; JD-77-18)  Denham Springs, LA.  Administrative Law Judge Ira Sandroni issued his decision on November 30, 2018.  Charge filed by an individual.


Trade unions face challenges beyond membership numbers

It’s not just about signing up more members but adapting to the changing world of work

by Margaret Prosser / December 19, 2018

When I began as a trade union official, the movement had the highest membership rates in its history. More than 13m people were union members and we covered close to the majority of working people with a collective agreement to negotiate their terms and conditions.

Since that “heyday” we have slipped to our lowest numbers in recent memory. While there have been endless papers and articles on how to solve the problem of falling union influence, the majority of “future of unions” articles look squarely at how to recruit more members to increase leverage without looking at the other, equally vital, challenge: how to reverse the decline in collective voice, the ability for workers to negotiate their terms and conditions, with a particular focus on the changing nature of work.

There are practical steps unions can take to secure their future, and we can turn to Sweden to help us. Recently, in my role as Chair of the Unions 21 Commission on Collective Voice in the 21st Century, I had the pleasure to meet two colleagues from Swedish private sector union, Onionin, who grew their membership by more than 100,000 over four years while also beginning to address collective representation for those in newer economies.

Onionin began their transformation with the phrase “everything can be better” which encapsulated a fundamental switch of mindset and approach from the union being a helper in times of distress to an enabler of aspiration. Conversations and research revealed members tended to like work and had fewer perceived problems. Through knowing their members, Onionin undertook a significant cultural change which shifted focus to meeting members on their terms, in their workspaces, through their digital channels, understanding and acting upon the issues which matter most to them.

For UK unions, the lesson here is not about the level of militancy of members, but whether the unions are adapting to the new global economy where members have changed the way they think about, as well as carry out, their work. Changes in demographics, automation, productivity, migration and globalization and new contractual arrangements (more than just zero-hours) mean that certain industries will decline while others will rise.

While the recent Taylor review of modern working practices goes some way to equalizing pay and conditions for agency, seasonal and atypical workers, unions more than ever will need to find ways to identify, reach and organize them. They cannot wait for legislation or government reforms to increase membership.

In 2017, Unions 21 explored the “Changing World of Work,” mapping out where people will be working and where they will need their unions. There are three growth areas: retail, food and beverage, and business services. And within those industries, there will be growth in both the “high skill” and “low skill” areas, meaning unions need to craft an offer which meets the needs of these members.

The other key lesson from the Swedes was that union growth was underpinned by negotiating on behalf of workers at all levels of the economy. Onionin’s growth was propelled by the “Swedish Part Model” whereby regulators and legislators have little jurisdiction over what happens at work, and change is negotiated between employer and union.

While this model certainly supports union presence and growth, it is not some amazement of Scandi culture. It is achieved through hard work, thoughtfulness and recognition by both sides of the power that each has. Swedish colleagues said the employers’ side would do away with the union relationship but the strength that comes from numbers keeps the them at the table.

So, just as we find with UK unions, the need for membership numbers is still vital because it gives us the legitimacy to negotiate. But when we say we speak on behalf of workers, we need to amplify the voices of those who need it most. The decline of union membership has come hand in glove with the decline of worker voice in the workspace.

Novelist Dodges Bargaining Order for Union-Busting Behavior

Dec. 10, 2018 12:48PM   Updated: Dec. 10, 2018 5:32PM

A subsidiary of the aluminum giant Novelis Inc. doesn’t have to recognize and negotiate with a union as a remedy for the company’s coercive conduct in the lead up to an election, the NLRB said in a ruling that scrapped its earlier bargaining order.

The National Labor Relations Board on Dec. 7 deferred to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s March decisionthat said the bargaining order against Novelis Corp. was unenforceable. The three-member panel rejected the argument, made by the NLRB general counsel’s office and the union involved in the case that it should reassess whether the order was appropriate.

The two Republican board members on the panel, however, said that they’re open to reconsidering the legal test used for imposing bargaining orders in a future case, signaling the Trump NLRB could pare back the board’s power to issue one of its most potent remedies for violations of federal labor law.

The NLRB can force companies to negotiate with unions that lost elections under what’s often known as a “Gissel order,” named after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1969 decision in NLRB v. Gissel Packing that permitted the board to order bargaining to remedy serious unfair labor practices. The NLRB issues such orders rarely—when it determines an employer’s illegal conduct makes a free and fair election impossible.

Several circuit courts, however, have ruled the NLRB must find that the lingering effects of the employer’s unlawful conduct still ruin the chance for a fair election at the time the board is considering the case to justify a bargaining order.

In the Novelis case, the Second Circuit said the NLRB didn’t sufficiently consider the impact of changed circumstances, including worker and manager turnover, in the two years between the United Steelworkers’ election defeat and the board’s ruling.

NLRB Chairman John Ring and Member Marvin Kaplan acknowledged board precedent doesn’t require a consideration of altered conditions to warrant a bargaining order but also said they’re willing to weigh a possible change to that precedent.

Remedy for Union Busting

An administrative law judge first handed down the bargaining order in 2015, a year after the Steelworkers lost an election at a Novelis plant in Upstate New York on a 287-273 vote. The board agreed in 2016 that the extraordinary remedy was warranted given the company’s coercive behavior in the run-up to the election.

In its Dec. 7 ruling, the board rescinded the Gissel order and instead told Novelis that it must give the Steelworkers names and contact information for the current bargaining unit employees. The company must also give the union access to all bulletin boards and other places where employee notices are posted.

The board didn’t reinstate the Steelworkers’ petition to unionize workers at the Novelis plant, saying the union didn’t ask for it.

Member Lauren McFerran, the only Democrat on the board, disagreed with her Republican counterparts about reinstating the petition. Renewing a union’s election bid is the default remedy when employer misconduct taints a vote, she said.

The Steelworkers will continue to support the Novelis workers in their fight for union representation, Steelworkers official John Shinn told Bloomberg Law in an emailed statement.

Novelis believes the NLRB’s ruling is a “positive outcome” as the company keeps on partnering with its employees at the New York plant to serve its customers, Novelis spokeswoman Fiona Bell told Bloomberg Law in an email.

The case is Novelis , N.L.R.B., 03-CA-121293, decision and order 12/7/18 .

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Iafolla in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at; Terence Hyland

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