Unions Find Themselves on the Wrong End of ULPs

While unions are typically the party alleging an employer acted unlawfully, occasionally they find themselves having to respond to similar allegations. The United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 7 (UFCW), Colorado’s largest labor union, is in the hot seat over allegations that they violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Colorado Wage Act by withholding overtime wages owed to employees. The UFCW Local 7 was sued over similar complaints back in 2005 when 25 business representatives alleged that they were required to work as many as 70 hours a week without overtime.

In another case, an administrative assistant for the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 689 was a member of the Office and Professional Employees’ Union (OPE). When the transit union changed the employee’s job duties, the OPE filed a grievance on her behalf. The next week the employee was interrogated by the transit union’s president regarding her break times and later received a warning letter for being “argumentative and aggressive in her tone” when questioned about her work. The president also warned her to stop talking with her colleagues about break times. A few days later, the employee received a bad performance review, which seemed suspect given that it had been years since she last had a performance review. Ironically, the Board concluded that the transit union violated the National Labor Relations Act when it instructed the employee to stop talking to other employees about their break times.

While most of our Recaps focus on allegations unions make against employers, unions are employers too, and they are not immune from allegations of NLRA violations or other federal law violations. Such instances are refreshing reminders that unions must play by the rules too.

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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