Employees testified that immediately after the UE local filed an election petition with the NLRB supervisors at MTIL, Inc., the Company made comments to employees that the employer, which sanitizes plastic packing crates for another company, might close or relocate its plant if the union was elected. The NLRB also received testimony that supervisors told workers that MTIL might begin a drug testing program if the union was elected to represent the employee.
Threats of closure during a union organizing are unlawful. Actually closing is lawful, but threatening to do so is not. The threat to drug test is a little more grey to me. Drug testing may in fact be part of a yet-to-be-negotiated collective bargaining agreement. So the Company didn’t lie. But if the employee interpreted the comment as a threat (assuming that some employees would fail a drug test), then was unlawful.
This case is a perfect reminder of the thin line employers must walk when battling a union organizing campaign.
Matt Austin 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 reach Matt by calling him at (614) 843-3041 or emailing him at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com.