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NLRB Judge finds union unlawfully caused discharge of HR manager

An NLRB Administrative Law Judge has found that a labor union violated the National Labor Relations Act when it conditioned the granting of concessions in collective-bargaining with the discharge of a member of the employer’s negotiating team. 

In his decision issued Thursday, Judge Arthur Amchan found that Council 30 of the United Catering, Cafeteria and Vending Workers International Union unlawfully caused the employer, Awrey Bakeries, LLC, to fire its Director of Human Resources on the same day the union membership ratified a new contract.

The Union had represented employees at the Livonia, Michigan facility for decades, and was bargaining for a successor contract. After union members rejected the first proposal, which called for significant reductions in hourly pay rates and lay-offs, the union indicated that it could win membership support if the employer agreed to discharge two members of the negotiating team, including its HR Director. 

The revised contract proposal provided for the immediate termination of one top manager, and the termination of another manager within 60-days.

Judge Amchan noted that under well established Board precedent, unions and employers must deal with each other’s chosen representatives for the purposes of collective-bargaining, and that a union violates Section 8(b)(1)(B) of the Act when it takes action to interfere with the employer’s representatives in order to adversely effect the manner in which they perform their duties. 

The Judge rejected the union’s arguments that the evidence did not establish a nexus between the union’s conduct and the HR Director’s functions as the employer’s collective bargaining representative.  Instead he determined that the evidence presented at the hearing showed  a sufficient link, assuming such a showing was required to establish the violation. 

Since the union’s unlawful coercion was at least a contributing factor in the discharge, it must pay the HR Director any wages and benefits lost as a result of the union’s actions. 

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