Employer Punished for Truthful Statements During Union Organizing Effort

Anyone who has been through a union organizing campaign can relate to the following. Until now, employers could tell the truth to their employees. Employers could tell employees that a union could not guarantee a wage increase, that everything is negotiable, that unions cost money, that unions preclude an employee from working directly with management, etc. Apparently, these statements are now unlawful. 

A company recently implied that workers’ wages and benefits would start from “ground zero” simply by choosing union representation and not as a possible outcome of good faith bargaining. Management’s suggestions of a more onerous or difficult work environment after voting to join the union also constituted an unfair threat under the National Labor Relations Act. According to the Judge, “I find that employees would reasonably believe, based on [the Company’s] statements, that with the union, the would lose many of their benefits, experience decreased pay, lose all flexibility they might have in navigating day to day work conditions, and forfeit any flexibility in terms and conditions of employment they might enjoy.

The Company committed additional unfair labor practice by: 1) holding a meeting with employees to urge them not to unionize, 2) sending a letter to employees encouraging them to forego unionization and telling them that they would lose the ability to represent themselves if they voted in favor of the union, and 3) telling employees that the union would cost money and could potentially put their paychecks, benefits, and work flexibility at risk.

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.