Liberty Toyota factually told its Illinois employees that their Florida counterparts were still waiting for a union contract three years after voting for union representation. According to the NLRB, this factual statement “effectively communicated” that if the Illinois employees voted in favor of the International Association of Machinists union, that they too would suffer years of delay and stagnation.
A dealership executive stated that any negotiations with the Illinois union would “start from scratch…everything goes to zero.” This factual statement has been used in thousands of union avoidance campaigns across the country. Only now is the NLRB alleging that such a statement is unlawful. According to the Board, the employer was not only warning of uncertainties in labor-management negotiations, but was threatening employees with a loss of their existing benefits.
While I am often surprised at the recent decisions coming from the NLRB, this one is appalling. Under the National Labor Relations Act, when a union is certified as the employees’ exclusive bargaining agent, all terms and conditions of employment are subject to negotiation. Employees’ current terms and conditions are not the starting point, or floor, of negotiating. Employees truly could end up with worse, better, or the same terms and conditions of employment after the collective bargaining agreement is ratified. For the Board to now claim that companies are not allowed to educate their workforce about this well-known maxim of collective bargaining is deplorable.