The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, January/February 2019 edition. To view other editions or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.
School bus drivers’ petition for a decertification election blocked under ‘settlement bar’ rule
School bus drivers are challenging a coercive NLRB-created rule trapping them under the “representation” of the notoriously corrupt Teamsters union, controlled by top boss Jimmy Hoffa (left).
PITTSBURGH, PA – Two Pennsylvania school bus drivers have filed a federal lawsuit against the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after the Board blocked their petition to hold an election to remove an unwanted union from their workplace.
Marcia Williams and Karen Wunz, employed by Krise Transportation, filed their lawsuit to challenge the NLRB “settlement bar” rule. That rule blocks employees in a union monopoly bargaining unit from holding a secret ballot election to decertify the union until an NLRB-mandated period of time after a settlement agreement between the employer and the union. The complaint asserts that this Board-created policy violates the workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
In March, Krise Transportation and Teamsters Local 397 (the union with monopoly bargaining power over Williams, Wunz, and their coworkers) entered into a settlement agreement in an unfair labor practice case. The agreement included a clause that barred workers from challenging Teamsters Local 397 union officials’ monopoly bargaining status for a year after the officials’ first bargaining session with Krise. Williams and Wunz were not parties to the agreement.
In May, Williams filed a petition with the NLRB to decertify Teamsters Local 397. Out of 28 Krise employees, 24 employees signed the petition to oppose union officials’ representation. Despite the overwhelming opposition to the union, the NLRB Regional Director blocked their decertification petition using the “settlement bar” rule. Williams requested that the NLRB review the Regional Director’s decision, but the NLRB upheld the dismissal and blocked the employees’ decertification petition.
Williams and Wunz are represented free of charge by Foundation staff attorneys in their attempt to free themselves and their coworkers from unwanted Teamsters union “representation.”
In the federal lawsuit, Foundation staff attorneys argue that the NLRB’s “settlement bar” rule conflicts with the clear text and plain meaning of the NLRA. The NLRA requires the Board to investigate any petition in which an employee alleges that a union no longer commands a majority of the workers’ support, and that if a question of representation exists the Board must direct a secret ballot election.
However, the NLRB’s “settlement bar” rule blocks Williams, Wunz, and their coworkers from raising a question concerning representation and forces them to submit to the monopoly bargaining privileges of a union they oppose. Foundation staff attorneys point out that nothing in the NLRA grants the Board the authority to issue a “settlement bar” rule blocking employees, even for a “reasonable time,” from raising a question concerning representation, “let alone a rule based merely on the employer’s settlement of unfair labor practice charges to which the employees were not parties.”
Williams and Wunz ask the court to declare the NLRB’s “settlement bar” rule a violation of the Board’s Congressionally delegated authority and to order the Board to move forward with their decertification petition.
“The National Labor Relations Act is premised on the notion of employee rights to associate or refrain from associating with a union. Yet the NLRB has concocted several rules that undermine the Act by blocking workers from voting out unwanted representation,” commented Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Such doctrines have been restricting workers’ voices for far too long. Ms. Williams and Ms. Wunz are standing up to challenge the Board’s union boss-friendly practices, and the Foundation is proud to help them challenge this policy that directly contradicts their rights under federal labor law.”