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ALJ Orders Dish Network to Reinstate 18, Resume Bargaining

Fort Worth, TX—Administrative Law Judge Robert A. Ringler issued a decision that found Dish Network (the Employer) had prematurely declared an impasse in bargaining and implemented unilateral changes in terms and conditions of employment at their Farmers Branch and North Richland Hills facilities. Judge Ringler ordered the Employer to rescind the unilateral changes to terms and conditions of employment and make employees whole for losses incurred due to these changes, reinstate 18 union-represented employees and provide them with backpay, and return to the bargaining table, upon request by the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO (CWA).

In 2009, CWA was certified as the bargaining representative for the two facilities. Following certification, joint bargaining began between the parties. Organizing efforts largely focused upon opposition to a pilot compensation program that was being implemented at the two facilities known as the Quality Performance Compensation System (QPC).  Despite their early opposition to the program, the employees came to favor the QPC as it eventually led to a significant increase in their wages.  The Employer discontinued the pilot program at all other facilities, while the union-represented employees continued to work under it, earning significantly more than non-union technicians.

In-person bargaining continued until November 2014 when the Employer submitted a series of final proposals to CWA and it countered that offer with concessions in December 2014. At that time, the Employer neither asserted that an impasse had been reached in bargaining, nor that further meetings would be futile. No further bargaining occurred during 2015. In April 2016, the Employer implemented its final offer from 2014 that, among other things, eliminated QPC, resulting in severe wage cuts and the mass resignation of union-represented employees.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor granted a preliminary injunction in this case ordering the Employer to restore what he called a “a drastic cut” in wages for employees at the two facilities.

Parties have the right to appeal ALJ decisions to the Board. In the absence of timely exceptions, ALJ decisions are final. The complaint against Dish Network was issued by the NLRB’s Region 16 office in Fort Worth.

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