During union organizing drives, some companies hire labor consultants (not to be confused with labor lawyers like me who only communicate with management) to speak directly with employees about the realities of joining a union. Most of the time labor consultants are helpful, and I have used several over the years to help defeat organizing campaigns. The consultants in this case may have crossed the line in zealously advocating for employees to vote no for the union.
One employee testified that a consultant asked him how he felt about the union. When the employee asked to be left alone, the consultant showed him a document titled, “Employee Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act” and said, “This document doesn’t work here, my brother. Who pays your check, the company or the union?”
Another employee testified that the consultant called the statement of rights “useless” and said that the company has “its own policies.” A third incident involved two employees who testified that a second consultant told workers in a pre-election meeting that if the Teamsters won the election the company could lower employee wages. According to the judge, the negative comment about employees’ labor law rights signaled that bargaining would be futile if employees voted to unionize.
Matt Austin who owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm based in Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 285-5342 or email him at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com.