In March, Region 13 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rejected a petition by a group of Indiana construction workers who wanted to remove union bosses from their workplace. This week, the full NLRB in Washington, DC, sided with union officials and left in place the Region’s decision to dismiss the petition, which had unanimous support from the company’s workers.

None of the employees at Neises Construction Company in Crown Point, Indiana are members of the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters union (IKORCC), but federal law empowers IKORCC union bosses to represent these employees as their “exclusive bargaining representative.” With free legal aid from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, Neises employee Mike Halkias submitted a petition to decertify IKORCC officials as the monopoly bargaining agent for him and his coworkers.

Though the petition bore the signature of every member of the bargaining unit, the NLRB regional office rejected the petition, pointing to ongoing litigation between IKORCC and Neises. At the behest of IKORCC officials, the NLRB is seeking to force Neises to bargain with union officials for a union monopoly contract, even though no Neises employee is an IKORCC member or supports the union. The Region used the pending case against the employer to justify dismissing the workers’ petition for a decertification vote.

Foundation attorneys argued in their appeal to the full NLRB that the employer’s dispute with IKORCC bosses did not take away the workers’ right to remove the unwanted union. As the appeal stated, “Halkias and his fellow employees are not children, but freethinking individuals who have the right to dislike the Union for a host of reasons having nothing to do with Neises or the Union’s unproven, unadjudicated allegations.” The appeal implored the Board to, at the very least, investigate whether the alleged employer wrongdoing had diminished the employees’ ability to make an informed choice about union boss “representation.”

Instead, the Board denied the appeal, accepting the Region and union officials’ reasoning that the pending employer charges should block the workers’ request for a vote, leaving the nine workers under union “representation” they unanimously oppose.

“It is simply outrageous that federal law lets union bosses force workers to accept unions’ so-called ‘representation’ against their will – even when workers unanimously oppose the union,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “Federal law purports to protect workers’ ‘freedom of association’ and to ensure union representation ‘is of their own choosing,’ however, as this case demonstrates, the NLRB frequently protects union boss power to the detriment of workers’ freedom.”

“This outcome shows how federal labor law is broken,” added Mix. “These workers simply want a vote to remove a union they oppose, yet the NLRB response is not only to block any such vote but also to seek to force their employer to bargain further with a union supported by precisely zero rank-and-file workers.”

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