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NLRB General Counsel Launches New 10(j) Injunction Initiative When Employers Threaten or Coerce Employees During Organizing Campaigns

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In a new memorandum issued today, National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo announced an initiative to seek injunctions under Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act in certain cases where workers have been subject to threats or other coercive conduct during an organizing campaign. The initiative aims to protect worker rights and deter statutory violations in the earliest phases of unlawful employer anti-union actions before threats or other coercion escalate into unlawful discharges or other adverse actions.

Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act authorizes the National Labor Relations Board to seek injunctions against employers and unions in federal district courts to stop unfair labor practices where, due to the passage of time, the normal Board processes are likely to be inadequate to effectively remedy the alleged violations. These injunctions are needed to timely protect employees' Section 7 rights to exercise their free choice regarding engaging in union and protected concerted activities and to ensure that Board decisions will be meaningful. 

“Threats often escalate into action, imposing even more burdens and chilling effects on employees,” said General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo. “They are not mere words impacting employees, but a prelude to what is likely to come to pass. Therefore, I believe that threats or other coercive conduct need to be promptly stopped, not only to erase the chilling impact they have on employees, but to prevent escalation of the words into action.”

Under the new initiative, the General Counsel will seek authorization to obtain prompt Section 10(j) relief in organizing campaigns where the facts demonstrate that employer threats or other coercion may lead to irreparable harm to employees’ Section 7 rights. Field offices are thus instructed to quickly investigate alleged threats or other coercion made during an organizing drive and promptly submit those cases for consideration of injunctive relief.

Today’s memo builds on two previous memos that address injunctive relief. In August, the General Counsel released a  memorandum underscoring the importance of 10(j) injunction proceedings and affirming the Agency’s priority in continuing efforts to obtain immediate relief in cases that present a significant risk of remedial failure. Additionally, in November the General Counsel released a memorandum instructing Regions to seek full and immediate remedies regarding immigration-related threats and retaliatory conduct at every stage of an unfair labor practice case, including seeking Section 10(j) injunctive relief.

Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year.