The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that a meat processing company violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) due to its persistent failure to bargain in good faith with its unionized workers. The NLRB noted that the employer repeatedly refused to consider even the smallest concessions to the Union, adhered to its own initial proposals without modifications, and that it did not even wait for the Union to make all of its proposals before rejecting them. As a result, the NLRB issued a variety of measures against the company for what it called “egregious and pervasive instances of bad-faith bargaining.”
What Was This Case About?
In Noah’s Ark Processors, LLC d/b/a WR Reserve, the workers at a Nebraska-based meat processor successfully voted to unionize, and began collectively bargaining with their employer starting in 2018. However, over successive rounds of negotiations, the employer refused to budge on any of their positions, and rejected any and all proposals made by the union. As a result, the Union brought a complaint against the company for refusing to bargain in good faith.
What is the Issue at Hand?
The primary question before the NLRB is whether the meat processing company’s failure to bargain with the Union violated their labor rights. The NLRA requires employers to bargain in good faith with their employees, and to respect their rights as workers to collectively bargain. However, the Union alleged that the company refused to engage in good faith bargaining, and never intended to agree to a union contract, no matter what terms were offered.
What Did the NLRB Decide?
The NLRB agreed with the Union, ruling that the company’s refusal to back down from its original bargaining position, as well as its unwillingness to make any concessions towards the workers and its proposed implementation of a discretionary wage, were all signs of bad faith bargaining. It ordered the company to pay for the full costs of bargaining from November 11, 2019, until good faith negotiations begin, and required a number of remedies, including posting an explanation-of-rights document in English and Spanish, and having the company’s CEO or board agent read the document out loud to the workers. These measures are meant to encourage the company to begin good faith bargaining, and to protect workers’ collective bargaining rights under Section 7.
Why Does This Matter?
This ruling is important for two primary reasons. First, it reaffirms the right of workers to collectively bargain with their employer, and that employers cannot simply ignore workers or refuse to give their demands due consideration. Second, it is a reminder that the NLRB has substantial authority to penalize employers who refuse to bargain in good faith with their workers.
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