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Possible Labor Law Violation

On Lawyer & Legal » Employment & Labor Law

25,878 words with 13 Comments; publish: Wed, 15 Oct 2008 14:17:00 GMT; (800125.00, « »)

The state is: ? Oregon

I am a member of a union whose sister union went out on strike recently over bargaining issues.

Our own contract has a "No strike, No lockout" clause. However, at our union meeting, we discussed ways to get around that so that we could show our support and hold the picket line with our union brothers and sisters. It was agreed that we would take a day or two of personal leave. At which point I applied for 3 days of leave for an upcoming move. A week before the strike, Management put out a directive that no personal or vacation leave would be granted from that point forward for the following week when the strike would officially begin. Mine was safe as I had received prior approval.

Our Union's Exec Committee held a meeting over the weekend before the strike would begin and voted that all of us would take (in violation of management's directive) the first of our personal leave days on that first official day (Monday). Those of us unable to attend the meeting were called on our cell phones and told that we were not to go into work that day, but to join the picket line instead. This day did not fall on the days I had pre-approved. I crossed with a picket pass that had been provided by the striking union. However, by mid-day I began receiving personally threatening phone calls on my cell and work lines. Originally, I had planned to go out and picket on my breaks and lunch, but one of the calls threatened that if I did "it would not go well", it would be best if I just stayed in with the other 'scabs' for my own safety. By day two of the strike, my own union retalliated against anyone who defied the walk out order and took us off the emailing list and were calling us names, etc. In fact, they held another meeting to discuss what further punishment they could inflict upon us. When it came time to turn in time-sheets, our brilliant exec committee advised our members not to call it "personal leave" but instead use the term "Unpaid Leave", because they could be charged with insubordination. If I'm not mistaken, this constitutes a violation of our "No Strike" clause of our contract. Not showing up to work, taking unpaid leave, and walking the picket line.... if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck... it's usually a duck.

Does my union have the authority to coerce its members to strike, in violation of the contract; especially when it's not our union on strike? Does my union have the authority to coerce it's members to violate a management directive (insubordination)? Does my union then have the right to retaliate against its members who have not done as requested but used a legal route to create the same effect?

Thanks for your help.

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  • 13 Comments
    • If, in a 'worst case' scenario, we were not allowed the membership benefits for which we pay dues, i.e. sick leave bank, educational reimbursement, etc.; would this constitute "damages" from a legal standpoint? Or would there need to be compensatory damages to be proven, i.e. wages, or other benefits lost or decreased?

      From reading many of the post threads, it is apparent that libel and slander are nearly impossible to win in litigation. If, however, the slander (charges that lead to discipline without being evidenced) lead to the above mentioned loss of member benefits does the level of difficultly in proving the libel/slander decrease?

      Thank you and wishes for a Happy Holiday!

      #1; Wed, 24 Dec 2008 16:07:00 GMT
    • Your best bet is to contact the NLRB and asks the questions and see if they have violated any area.
      #2; Wed, 15 Oct 2008 16:47:00 GMT
    • Short recap: Our union president and exec committee whom I'll be refering to as the SS (Sisterhood of the Stupid). Placed our union in violation of our contract by coercing it's membership to strike for a different union and then disciplined those of us who knew this was not only illegal, but just a plain bad plan. (We have a no strike clause in our contract), and a company directive, which placed all of the sheep who were bullied into compliance in a position of insubordination with which they were subsequently charged. A few of us had made other arrangements in advance and were able to legally avoid crossing the picket line for most of the week.

      The disciplinary letter, which is posted above, is brimming with ridiculous and malicious charges, and was sent out to all of the membership (approx 45 of our co-workers). This letter speaks of our parent union's (NNN) involvement, it's bylaws and constitution, which they sent us but apparently the SS never read, because their letter violates the terms of the bylaws and constitution they sent us. (Idiots, if this weren't my job, I'd find it hysterical.) I address this issue in my respons, which is posted above, as well.

      Our parent union's president, whom I'll be referring to as GG (Good Guy) sent a letter to the SS telling them that they were not going to get involved, either from an authority or a financial standpoint, and oh, by the way, SS, you honestly didn't actually DISCIPLINE members without an investigation or hearing, DID YOU? Cause, well, that would be ILLEGAL...

      Our local NLRB contact advised us to continue to document everything, which has been easy since the SS continuously sends us email and letters telling us that our discipline would be "suspended" until after the hearing. It's almost as if they didn't read the GG's letter, which I supposed would not really astound me.

      We've decided not to respond to them in any manner, figuring, if we give them enough rope, they'll hang themselves.

      If you have any better advice or comments - I'd love to hear it.

      Thank you all!

      #3; Sat, 20 Dec 2008 14:00:00 GMT
    • Here are violations under the NLRA:

      Examples of Employer Conduct Which Violate the NLRA Are:

      Threatening employees with loss of jobs or benefits if they join or vote for a union or engage in protected concerted activity.

      Threatening to close the plant if employees select a union to represent them.

      Questioning employees about their union sympathies or activities in circumstances that tend to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights under the Act.

      Promising benefits to employees to discourage their union support.

      Transferring, laying off, terminating, assigning employees more difficult work tasks, or otherwise punishing employees because they engaged in union or protected concerted activity.

      Transferring, laying off, terminating, assigning employees more difficult work tasks, or otherwise punishing employees because they filed unfair labor practice charges or participated in an investigation conducted by NLRB.

      Examples of Labor Organization Conduct Which Violate the NLRA Are:

      Threats to employees that they will lose their jobs unless they support the union.

      Seeking the suspension, discharge or other punishment of an employee for not being a union member even if the employee has paid or offered to pay a lawful initiation fee and periodic fees thereafter.

      Refusing to process a grievance because an employee has criticized union officials or because an employee is not a member of the union in states where union security clauses are not permitted.

      Fining employees who have validly resigned from the union for engaging in protected concerted activities following their resignation or for crossing an unlawful picket line.

      Engaging in picket line misconduct, such as threatening, assaulting, or barring non-strikers from the employer's premises.

      Striking over issues unrelated to employment terms and conditions or coercively enmeshing neutrals into a labor dispute.

      #4; Wed, 15 Oct 2008 15:25:00 GMT
    • To those who are familiar with this thread, I have a final update.

      AAA grieved and then arbitrated their case against management, claiming that our union really wasn't on strike - therefore, not violating the no-strike clause of our contract. They argued that members should be paid for the days they did not show up for work and picketed with our striking sister union...uhm cause they weren't on strike. (Still scratching my head over that logic.) They argued that the no-strike clause language in our contract does not bar "sympathy strikes".

      As a side note, management used the very letter that our AAA president wrote to the four of us who disagreed with leadership's contention that this was a legal action, to support its claims of contract violation. (The four of us had requested Personal leave as soon as the strike date was chosen. The only day we came in that week was the first day of the strike. Leadership left voicemail messages on our cellphones Sunday evening that we were not to go in to work on Monday. Some of us didn't even read this message until after the fact.)

      The arbitrator used The Taft-Hartley Act to actually define a 'strike'.

      "The term 'strike' includes and strike or other concerted stoppage of work by employees (including a stoppage by reason of the end of a collective-bargaining agreement) and any concerted slowdown or other concerted interruption of operations by employees."

      The arbitrator's award finds that AAA on this basis did, in fact, 'strike' based upon the AAA's language in its letter of discipline to the four of us.

      Ultimately, based on this and other AAA contradictory factors. The arbitrator's award called for AAA's grievance to be denied.

      Thanks again to those who have offered input and to those have followed this thread.

      #5; Fri, 11 Sep 2009 13:27:00 GMT
    • You know, it helped immensely that you outlined the possible violations. With no rhetorical "except"-type jargon, it is quite clear that my union violated at least two of the Labor Union's Conduct points:

      >Engaging in picket line misconduct, such as threatening, assaulting, or barring non-strikers from the employer's premises.

      >Striking over issues unrelated to employment terms and conditions or coercively enmeshing neutrals into a labor dispute.

      The NLRB has been helpful in the past. We've collected evidence on each of the charges, and have witnesses as well. Our concern is how do we charge the ring-leaders without injury to the entire Association? That is where the line becomes blurry, and we must decide if or when to move forward.

      Thanks, so much, for your clarifications!

      ps - love your quote.

      #6; Wed, 15 Oct 2008 17:12:00 GMT
    • A probable final chapter in the saga of many viewpoints.

      The NLRB accepted our case and charges were filed against AAA for discipline without investigation, hearing, or cause.

      Subsequently, AAA sent us a letter (aglow with language that would make a sailor blush) rescinding the discipline for reasons that defy logic, but made them look like they (the Exec Cmte) were somehow robbed of some pseudo-dignity.

      We withdrew the charges with NLRB and now are just waiting for the dust to settle.

      While the letters we received from NNN and AAA were just plain vile and nasty, they weren't illegal. ... Sticks and Stones.

      The wheels of justice turn. Not always at the pace we'd like, or in the fashion we would have chosen. But, we were ultimately right in all of our findings in this situation. AAA had to admit it, and we are just okay with that.

      Thanks to all who have followed this post.

      #7; Thu, 05 Feb 2009 13:37:00 GMT
    • The NNN Exec Cmte (Parent Union) will be holding their session in a few days. At which, AAA's (my local) President will be presenting a one-sided argument in an effort to coerce the NNN to provide a hearings officer. The four of us standing up to them feel that this would be a conflict of interest, since NNN's attorney has been advising our president throughout the previous events we believe that NNN would not be able to provide a neutral hearings officer on that basis. Currently, we have been advised that our discipline is in 'abeyance' until after the hearing. (What the heck does that mean?)

      Do we hold tight, quietly keep a stiff upper lip, and wait for NNN to make the right decision? Or do we advise the NNN of our concern prior to their session, so they know our stance?

      It's always a crap shoot hoping that someone will do the right thing.

      Thanks

      #8; Tue, 13 Jan 2009 19:19:00 GMT
    • This question is somewhat difficult to word, but here goes -

      The AAA's union leadership has stated that they were following the advice of our parent union's (NNN) attorney with regard to the afformentioned proceedings.

      The NNN's president has formally declined to get the NNN involved any further in this our union leaders' mess.

      My question is this - If NNN's counsel was giving advice contrary to the findings of NNN's president, wouldn't the NNN be accountable in any manner, either to one side or the other? Can they just extract themselves with no consequences whatsoever?

      #9; Wed, 07 Jan 2009 19:08:00 GMT
    • FYI - The above letter was sent to 4 of us and cc:d out to all of our membership.

      November 26, 2008

      On November 24, 2008, I received your letter dated November 17, 2008 regarding the proposed Executive Committees disciplinary action concerning the alleged offenses and slanderous accusations made against my person in malice. I formally request that the AAA Executive Committee rescind the proposed disciplinary action and discontinue their malicious assault on my professional reputation.

      This letter will also serve as my request to appeal the proposed sanctions found within the November 17, 2008 letter.

      You and the Executive Committee have maliciously violated my LMRDA rights.

      You and the Executive Committee have placed AAA in violation of both State and Federal Labor laws.

      You and the Executive Committee have maliciously failed to formally charge me with any violation before imposing sanctions, which is a violation of my rights against improper discipline.

      By sanctioning me before formally charging me, and before a hearing was held to determine the facts of the case, you and the Executive Committee have maliciously violated the LMDRA, and the NNN Constitution and Bylaws.

      I believed and still do, that AAA leadership has given poor advice to the membership. Given my personal history with AAA leadership regarding affairs affecting my employment and after carefully considering the action proposed by AAA leadership in regards to the PPP strike, I did not feel compelled to agree with the legality of the actions recommended by the AAA Leadership. This is a clear case of discriminatory behavior and the basis for my feeling that AAA leadership is treating me with malice. I feel that we are not working together as a union as is self apparent by the proposed disciplinary action requiring this letter. I believe I have done nothing wrong. I am being sanctioned for disagreeing with my AAA leadership. In exercising my basic rights as a union member, I have questioned what I believe to be harmful to the union. I am interested in protecting the union, AAA, and my employment. The questioning of bad practices does not constitute nonsupport.

      It is also worth noting that the recommended action that I am being sanctioned for not following was, in fact, found to be a violation of the contract, as well as a violation of an OOO directive. This was the basis for my dissention. So once again, I am being sanctioned for being correct in my interpretation of the contract.

      You should note that my timesheets reflect that I took three personal leave days during the first week of the strike, contrary to the misinformation you charged in your letter. After the August AAA meeting I took it upon myself to secure time off prior to the directive being handed down.

      I would also direct your attention to the content of the following email you sent out on 9/11/08:

      "Subject: Reminder

      As we stated in our August staff meeting. If PPP goes out on strike and AAA members have to cross the picket line they will be provided with a picket pass by PPP. PPP has NO INTENTION OF HARMING THEIR AAA SISTERS. They have been instructed to have passes ready for everyone of you at HQ. They are very aware of the difficult situation that we are all in.

      We will have much more information for you at our meeting on Saturday.

      Keep calm and hang in there! Were all in this together!

      Please call us if you need us!"

      This in mind, a picket pass was issued to me by * (PPP). This was used on the single day I came into work that week, per your above statement.

      Based on the facts I have laid out above, I am requesting that all proposed penalties and actions be rescinded immediately. Should AAA Leadership choose to continue with the proposed penalties, I am requesting the rights and accommodations afforded as an active, dues paying member in good standing.

      This letter serves as my request for a hearing on the charges and allegations outlined in the letter I received from you dated November 17, 2008. As such, I request that the following information, including, but not limited to, be provided immediately:

      1)The approved, official minutes of the August 12, 2008 AAA Union Meeting.

      2)The approved, official minutes of the September 13, 2008 AAA Informational Meeting.

      3)The sworn written testimony of those accusing me of rumor mongering.

      4)The sworn written testimony of those managers I allegedly colluded with.

      5)The sworn written testimony of witnesses who were present when the alleged collusion occurred.

      6)The specific alleged conduct, apart from disagreeing with AAA leadership and subsequently proven inaccurate AAA leadership opinion, that stands contrary to the good and welfare of the AAA.

      7)The Mutual Aid Pact documentation with PPP.

      8)Specific contract language cited proving the alleged violation(s).

      9)Specific AAA constitution and bylaws language proving the alleged violation(s).

      10)Specific case law in support of your position.

      11)Specific Federal and State laws violated.

      Per the NNN Constitution and Bylaws and the NNN Procedures for Conducting a Hearing Pursuant to Article XIII of the NSO Constitution, there are certain rights I am guaranteed as a union member. These include the right to face and confront my accuser; the right to receive written charges. These charges shall be specific, citing in detail the nature, the date, and the circumstances of the alleged offense, along with the specific act or failure to act which constitutes the alleged violation. No where in the letter have these basic requirements been met.

      And as listed under the obligations of the charging person(s) subsection (7), The person bringing the charges shall be under the following obligations:

      a)To file the original charge in sufficient detail as to afford the accused person full opportunity to prepare a defense.

      b)To appear in person at the trial.

      c)To assume the burden of proof.

      Additionally, you have fifteen (15) days to respond to this letter. Upon receipt of your letter, a written answer will be made to the charge(s) within (15) days.

      As a member of NNN, I am entitled to full representation by NNN and an advocate of my choosing from AAA.

      I caution you and the Executive Committee to carefully consider your libelous and malicious actions. You have the opportunity to rescind this ridiculous and illegal sanction before we waste AAAs time and money, and NNNs time and money. I have no grievance with the membership or NNN, only an interest in protecting the union and my employment.

      Regards,

      #10; Wed, 26 Nov 2008 15:33:00 GMT
    • As a result of our refusal to support the un-sanctioned strike of a different union, our union executive committee has handed down the following discipline:

      """At the August 12, 2008 AAA union meeting, the quorum of membership in attendance conducted an

      informal vote by show of hands and unanimously agreed that we would use all three of our

      personal leave days, if necessary, to stand together and honor PPP's picket line should they go on

      strike. (The first vote was not unanimous, and in the second vote we agreed to 1 day of personal leave.

      Which was voided by managements directive that no personal leave would be granted. The executive

      committee later advised membership to take 2 days of unpaid leave and join the picket line.)On September 13, 2008, AAA members again met and heard a presentation by Washington EAAA Board member, attorney **, to review the PPP bargaining crisis and discuss our options

      under the law should they go on strike the following Monday. After much discussion, and with an

      actual quorum present, the AAA members in attendance again unanimously voted to honor PPP's picket line and use all three of our personal leave days even though management had instructed us that leave would not be available. (We were told that this was an informational meeting only. We were not advised that there would be a vote involved.)

      On September 14 the AAA Executive Board notified each and every AAA member that the

      membership would be taking Monday, September 15, as a personal leave day to honor PPP's picket line. On Wednesday, September 17, 2008, select OOO locations were also picketed by AAA members

      who, again, attempted to use personal leave to cover that absence.

      You chose to cross the PPP picket line and report to work in defiance of the AAA membership vote.

      Your actions not only violated our mutual aid pact (there is no such pact) with the PPP, which like AAA, is affiliated with the National Staff Organization, but it was a direct affront to two confirmed, unanimous votes by a

      majority of the membership. In doing so, you ignored the commitment made by an overwhelming

      majority of the AAA membership, and selfishly chose to defy the concerted actions of your co-

      workers.

      The Executive Committee, on behalf of the AAA membership, would remind you that this is a

      "union" where our strength as an organization arises with our acting together by giving mutual aid

      and comfort. There is no justification for individual action unless extraordinary circumstances exist,

      contact is made with the Executive Committee, and a prior excuse obtained. If a commitment of the

      majority to certain action is made, we are all expected to honor it together, without exception.

      Independent departures from the will of the majority in a crisis cannot be tolerated otherwise the

      union is undermined internally, and will cease to function effectively if such individual actions

      continue.

      Because you have blatantly disregarded the considered, collected decision of the AAA membership, violated basic union principles, and given the appearance of collusion with management in

      performing bargaining unit work during your colleagues' engaging in concerted activities in

      support of PPP, the Executive Committee has concluded that you-have engaged in conduct that stands contrary to the good and welfare of the AAA.

      The Executive Committee is therefore imposing the following disciplinary action concerning these offenses:

      1.You will not be eligible to be a candidate for, hold any elected office nor serve on any

      AAA committee through August 2009.

      You are also hereby warned that any future incidents of this nature will be grounds for further

      disciplinary action up to and including loss of membership, and possible imposition of fines.

      Additionally, spreading rumors or other unsubstantiated speculation about AAA's interactions with PPP and NSO to others is also unacceptable conduct. The appropriate forum for such discussion is at union meetings, or by asking questions of Executive Committee members for the purpose of

      learning an accurate version of those interactions. Continued rumor mongering intended to reflect negatively upon the AAA with management and others outside the union will not be tolerated, and could lead to additional disciplinary action by the Executive Committee.

      You will have an opportunity to address the Executive Committee at its next regular meeting to

      discuss the foregoing if you believe there are extenuating circumstances that justify your crossing the picket line. Please contact the President in writing to request an appearance no later than ten

      (10) calendar days after receiving this letter, and provide a summary of your reasons that you wish

      to present for consideration.

      We have attached the NSO Constitution and Bylaws and the NSO Procedures for Conducting a

      Hearing Pursuant to Article {III of the NSO Constitution. These outline your rights to be heard on the discipline imposed.

      On behalf of the AAA Executive Committee,"""

      *Also, we have contacted the NLRB and the State Labor Commission and have completed the "complaint" paperwork. We are seeking an attorney to help with this. If anyone can help with this endeavor, or offer advice - we're all ears (and eyes).*

      Many Thanks!

      #11; Mon, 24 Nov 2008 12:49:00 GMT
    • We meet with an attorney tonight.

      Still welcome any insight, snarky remarks, comments (even from those who cleverly avoid actually reading the posts...). Wish us luck - and thanks, again!

      #12; Tue, 25 Nov 2008 13:22:00 GMT
    • Thank you - I have printed off the "Member Rights" article of the NLRB. But, not being an attorney, it might be easy to misinterpret some of the language. And, I'm certain, much of what my union may or may not do in retaliation to its members might rest within its individual bylaws and constitution.

      It just concerns me that my union has employed the very tactics that give "union" a bad name.

      Thanks Again.

      #13; Wed, 15 Oct 2008 15:35:00 GMT