Union organizers misled workers about their right to revoke union cards used as “votes,” while company promoted card check drive beyond Board’s “ministerial aid” exception
Washington, D.C. (January 22, 2019) – A National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorney has filed an appeal with the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) asking that the Board hear a Seattle housekeeper’s case. The case challenges UNITE HERE Local 8’s unionization of the housekeeper’s workplace. The case argues that UNITE HERE’s showing of employee support for representation, used to bypass the NLRB’s election process, is tainted.
Embassy Suites employee Gladys Bryant first filed the unfair labor practice charges after the UNITE HERE union was installed at the hotel through an oft-abused “card check” drive, which bypasses a secret ballot election. Her charges state that the results of the “card check” drive are tainted because Embassy Suites provided significant aid to union officials’ organizing efforts, and because a union official misled employees’ about their right to revoke their vote for unionization.
Bryant was hired at a new Embassy Suites hotel in March 2018. A month later, Embassy Suites announced to its new employees in a letter that they were subject to a union organizing agreement with UNITE HERE Local 8. To promote the union card check drive, Embassy Suites gave union organizers access to the hotel to meet and solicit employees. It also provided union officials with a list of all employees’ names, jobs, and contact information to assist the union in collecting authorization cards from employees.
Although Bryant did at first sign a union authorization card, she and many of her colleagues reconsidered. A union official, however, misled employees that they had to appear in person at the union hall to revoke any previously signed cards. And when Bryant made an appointment with the union official in an attempt to comply with this unlawful requirement, the union official did not show up.
After Embassy Suites recognized UNITE HERE Local 8’s monopoly bargaining “representation” over employees in May, Bryant filed charges arguing that the unionization violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
Bryant’s charges allege that Embassy Suites provided UNITE HERE’s organizing campaign with more than “ministerial aid.” The NLRB has long held that an employer taints employees’ efforts to remove a union if it gives the employees support such as providing a list of bargaining unit employees or use of company resources. Bryant’s charge argues that the same “ministerial aid” standard must also apply when an employer aids union officials’ efforts to gain monopoly bargaining power over workers.
Her charges also argue that UNITE HERE violated the NLRA by misinforming employees that they could only revoke authorization cards by going in person to the union hall. The NLRB’s “dual card” doctrine holds that to revoke an authorization card an employee must simply sign a document stating he or she does not support union representation. Thus, UNITE HERE Local 8 fatally tainted its proof of employee support for recognition by blocking employees from exercising their legal rights, either through illegal union policy or through a lie dissuading employees from revoking their cards.
In the appeal to the General Counsel, the Foundation staff attorney representing Bryant asks that the General Counsel issue a complaint on Bryant’s allegations to provide the Board with an opportunity to rule on the “ministerial aid” standard and bring consistency to its policies.
Bryant and her coworkers had collected enough signatures for a decertification vote to remove the union. However, in a separate case, the NLRB blocked their petition based on the “card check” recognition. The block was due to Lamons Gasket, a 2011 Board ruling barring decertification for one year after unionization via card check. Some Board members have noted in other recent cases that they would be willing to revisit the blocking charge policy in the future.
“This case proves that not only are union bosses willing to manipulate and ignore the rights of the workers they claim they want to ‘represent,’ their coercion often goes unchecked because of double standards in how the NLRB interprets the law,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “What qualifies as ‘ministerial assistance and support’ under the National Labor Relations Act cannot depend on whether the employer is helping outside union organizers impose unionization on workers, or assisting workers in exercising their rights to remove an unwanted union.”
“This double standard has the effect of promoting coercive union card check unionization that bypasses secret ballot elections, and it is long past time that it is ended,” added Mix.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.