Successor Companies Mustn’t Forget About Six-Month Mandatory Bargaining Obligation

DCX-CHOL purchased the assets of Stuart Manufacturing. At the time of sale, DCX-CHOL acknowledged in a letter sent to the union representing the Stuart employees that DCX-CHOL was a successor to Stuart. This obligated DCX-CHOL and the union to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. A few weeks after the sale, though, employees signed a petition to decertify the union as their bargaining agent, which would render DCX-CHOL union free. Since more than half of the employees signed the petition, DCX-CHOL unilaterally withdrew recognition of the union and refused to bargain for a new collective bargaining agreement. This withdrawal of recognition was unlawful.

Since 2011, the National Labor Relations Board requires employers to provide an incumbent union with “a reasonable period of bargaining” without challenging the union’s majority status as the representative of its employees. This reasonable period of time has been defined as six months. DCX-CHOL’s withdrawal of recognition before the arbitrary six-month deadline killed its chance of becoming union free. Instead, the company was required to resume negotiating for a new collective bargaining agreement. Whether it can successfully bargain in good faith for the remaining months and hope that employees will then circulate another petition – without employer involvement – will be difficult.

Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at maustin@ralaw.com.

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