Company-Run “Sham” Union Unlawful; Teamsters Instead Gain Access to Employees

Unions have been organizing drivers in Silicon Valley at a rapid pace, and companies are desperate to stop this trend. One tech shuttle provider, which runs daily shuttles for tech workers from San Francisco to corporate headquarters, tried to fight back against this trend by developing a management-run union called The Professional Commuter Drivers Union hoping to block other unions from organizing its employees.

The attempt was an unlawful management-sponsored union created to avoid the Teamsters’ effort to organize the company’s workforce. According to the National Labor Relations Act, unions cannot be controlled or influenced by management. Instead, they are third parties that are supposed to work on behalf of employees to negotiate their terms and conditions of employment. Here, the National Labor Relations Board sought an injunction to put an end to this “union,” and ultimately, the company and the Board entered into a settlement agreement that grants the Teamsters access to the company’s break room for one hour per week to meet with employees about union organization.

Labor lawyers are keeping a close eye on all facets of the transportation industry. These tech shuttle drivers have gone from having no unions to being heavily unionized in a matter of months. This speedy union organizing underscores the importance of having an active union avoidance plan in place at all times.

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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