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Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Kaiser re-run election

The NLRB has prepared the following questions and answers for employees voting in the re-run election to determine union representation at Kaiser health care facilities in California.

If NUHW-CNA wins the election, will the existing collective bargaining agreement between SEIU-UHW and Kaiser have to be renegotiated?

When employees vote to be represented by a different union than the one that currently represents them, the collective bargaining agreement, or contract, between the previous union and the employer becomes null and void upon the NLRB’s certification of the new union.  However, in general, an employer is required to maintain the existing contractual terms and conditions of employment that were set forth in the collective bargaining agreement it had with the previous union while it engages in good faith bargaining for a new collective bargaining agreement with the newly-certified union.   Such contractual terms and conditions of employment remain in effect until the employer and the new union reach an agreement to modify those terms and conditions or until they reach a lawful impasse in their negotiations, at which time the employer may lawfully implement changes it has previously proposed during negotiations.   

What rights does an employee have to solicit support for a union at work and to distribute literature in support of it? 

Federal law generally requires employers to permit employees to solicit support for a union of their choice during the non-working time of the employee solicitor and of the employees that he or she is soliciting.   However, such solicitation may be limited in patient care areas.  The law also generally requires employers to permit employees to distribute material in support of a union of their choice during their non-working time and in non-working areas.   Employers must allow off-duty employees access to the parking lots and other exterior areas of their facilities for the purpose of solicitation and distribution, and to interior areas if off-duty employees are allowed access to such areas for other purposes.   Employers are allowed to grant additional solicitation and distribution rights to employees beyond those required by law.   Employers must enforce their solicitation and distribution policies in a non-discriminatory manner so as not to treat employees differently based on which side they favor in an election dispute.   

What rights of access do unions have to an employer’s facilities?

Federal law does not require an employer to allow non-employee union representatives access to enter its facilities.  However, when an employer has a bargaining relationship with a union and has agreed by contract to grant that union access rights, the employer must honor those access rights in accordance with the terms of the parties’ agreement, as modified, in some cases, by the parties’ past practice in applying the union’s contractual access rights.   Such access rights may be limited so as to grant access only for purposes of communicating with or providing representational services on behalf of the employees represented by the union having access rights.  To the extent that an employer has granted contractual access rights to a union representing a particular group of employees, the employer is obligated by the National Labor Relations Act to honor those access rights.   In a situation in which different unions represent different groups of employees of the same employer, each union’s access rights may depend on the specific language of its collective-bargaining agreement with the employer.

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