Union officials had blocked vote for over 6 months using non-statutory “successor bar” despite widespread opposition to union
Boise, ID (February 4, 2021) – Truck drivers at the Boise and Twin Falls Shamrock Foods facilities have successfully removed unpopular Teamsters Local 483 union officials from their workplace, following a blowout decertification election in which workers voted 26-4 to oust the union. The workers obtained free legal aid from staff attorneys at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation in defending their right to vote out the Teamsters, after union bosses blocked a previous petition for a vote using a non-statutory National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) policy known as the “successor bar.”
The NLRB is the federal agency charged with enforcing federal labor law and investigating unfair labor practices. The “successor bar,” which appears nowhere in the federal statute governing most private sector labor relations, blocks employees from voting out union bosses for up to a year after a new employer takes over in a workplace. Prior NLRB majorities created this bar out of whole cloth.
In October 2019 Shamrock Foods acquired two warehouses where Teamsters officials held monopoly bargaining power, but bargaining talks between the Teamsters and Shamrock didn’t begin until December 2019. Shamrock employee Curtis Thomason submitted to the NLRB a petition containing well over the number of employee signatures necessary to trigger an NLRB-supervised vote to remove the union in May 2020.
However, in July 2020, the NLRB Regional Office in Denver dismissed Thomason’s petition, claiming it should be blocked by the “successor bar” because it was submitted “within six months of the first bargaining date” between Shamrock Foods and Teamsters officials. Thomason then obtained free legal aid from Foundation staff attorneys and appealed his case to the full NLRB in Washington, challenging the “successor bar” as a violation of his and his colleagues’ right under federal law to remove union officials they no longer want.
While his appeal was pending, but after the “successor bar” waiting period had expired, Thomason submitted a second decertification petition in December 2020. This petition was processed, and the decertification election was administered by the NLRB late last month. The NLRB tallied the votes this week and announced that the workers had voted overwhelmingly to ditch the Teamsters.
Thomason and his coworkers’ successful decertification comes as the NLRB considers several important Foundation cases that take aim at other non-statutory barriers preventing workers’ decertification elections. Most notable are three challenges to the NLRB’s “contract bar” doctrine, which prevents rank-and-file workers from voting out an unpopular union for up to three years following the signing of a contract between management and union bosses.
“Although we are happy Mr. Thomason and his co-workers were finally able to remove unpopular Teamsters bosses from their workplace, this case is a sobering example of how the so-called ‘successor bar’ and other NLRB-created ‘bars’ let union bosses game the system and foist the union on workers who overwhelmingly reject its so-called ‘representation,’” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “While Mr. Thomason’s case to overturn this pernicious doctrine was rendered moot when the election finally took place, Foundation staff attorneys will unwaveringly stand with workers who face the injustice of having their statutory right to remove unwanted union ‘representation’ blocked, until all these Board-concocted policies to entrench union bosses are finally removed.”
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.