A company and its union, The Society of Professional Engineering Employees and Aerospace, had a collective bargaining agreement that incorporated a letter of understanding establishing a joint workforce committee.
In December 2013, the Company informed the Union that it was studying the relocation of bargaining unit jobs from Puget Sound to locations across the U.S. In February 2014, the Company announced another potential relocation of work. The Union followed up by asking if there would be additional similar announcements. Importantly to the judge who heard this case, a company vice-president “responded directly that they would continue to see these types of studies and movement impacting the Puget Sound workforce.”
In March 2014, the Union submitted a written request for “information about the possible movement of Union work and/or work opportunities” and asked for company documents concerning plans for “relocation” or “realignment” of bargaining unit work. The Company refused to provide this information. The Union responded by filing an unfair labor practice charge alleging that the company violated its duty to bargain.
In a hearing before an administrative law judge, the Company argued that its vice-president never made a blanket statement that the Company planned to continue moving work out of the Puget Sound area and that it did not have a duty to give the Union information about potential movement of work. The judge disagreed noting that the vice-president’s comments came within weeks of the company deciding to relocate more than 1,000 jobs. The judge concluded that the Union sought information relevant to its representation of bargaining unit employees and ordered the Company to answer the Union’s written request.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.