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OVERVIEW OF LABOR LAW. Purpose of Labor Law. To provide legal protection for the collectivization of the employment relationship Organizing/Recognition Does a group (unit) of employees desire to collectivize their employment relationship?

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purpose of labor law
Purpose of Labor Law
  • To provide legal protection for the collectivization of the employment relationship
    • Organizing/Recognition
      • Does a group (unit) of employees desire to collectivize their employment relationship?
      • Will a union represent a group of employees for the purpose of determining terms and conditions of employment
    • Collective Bargaining
      • If so, what are the terms and conditions of employment that result?
  • Often called the process of unionization
international views
International Views
  • Right to Collective Bargaining as a human right
    • United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
      • “Article 23 . . .
        • “(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.”
    • International Labor Organization Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998)
      • Declares that all Members, even if they have not ratified the Conventions in question, have an obligation arising from the very fact of membership in the Organization to respect, to promote and to realize, in good faith and in accordance with the Constitution, the principles concerning the fundamental rights which are the subject of those Conventions, namely: (a) freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining . . .
should the unionization process be protected
Should the Unionization Process Be Protected?
  • Libertarian View (U.S. view pre-1926)
    • Unionization should be purely voluntary
      • Freedom of Association
        • Others should not be affected
          • employers, employees not interested in unions
  • Current Policy in U.S., Canada and Developed Asia Countries
    • Employees must be protected in unionization process
    • Balance rights to unionize with rights/interests of others affected
  • European Union Policy
    • Unions an integral component of society and should be consulted at the societal level on all matters relating to labor and employment
      • Social partners
labor law
Labor Law
  • United States
    • Private Sector in the U.S.
      • National Labor Laws
    • Public Sector in the U.S.
      • State Labor Laws
  • Canada
    • Provincial labor laws govern labor relations except for certain industries
  • Other countries
    • Labor law is at the national level
private sector
Private Sector
  • National Labor Laws in United States
    • National Labor Relations Act
      • In general, covers private sector employers who affect commerce, except railroads and airlines
        • Will discuss coverage of law later
    • Railway Labor Act
      • Covers railroad and airline industry
basic principles of private sector labor law in united states
Basic Principles of Private Sector Labor Law in United States
  • Creates Basic Structure of U.S. unionized industrial relations system
  • Basic Principles
    • Decentralized System
    • Employee Choice (with constraints)
    • Majority Rule
    • Exclusive Representation
    • Written, Legally Enforceable Contracts/Agreements
  • Similar principles govern Canadian labor law
decentralized system
Decentralized System
  • System is organized by bargaining units – may be
    • Firm
    • Plant/Facility
    • Craft
    • Department
    • Multi-Firm/Multi-Unit
      • if all parties agree
      • construction, longshoring, trucking
  • Representation continues in the unit, even if employees change over time
employee choice
Employee Choice
  • Employee Choice
    • Employees in a unit choose whether they wish a union (labor organization) to represent them
    • Which union will represent them
    • No official “enterprise unions”
    • No union registration with government
    • No imposed representation
    • No presumption that employees should be represented by a union
    • Possibility of employee deunionization at specified intervals
majority rule
Majority Rule
  • Choice of union or or no union is by a majority of employees in unit
  • If majority select representation, employees in unit are represented by a union
  • If majority do not select representation, employees in unit are not represented by a union
exclusive representation
Exclusive Representation
  • If a union is chosen by a majority of employees, it represents all employees in the unit, whether they voted for union or not
  • Employer must negotiate with that union
  • No other union may represent those employees
collective agreements
Collective Agreements
  • Almost always written
  • Legally enforceable in court
  • Usually enforced by final and binding arbitration
basic legal framework cont
Basic Legal Framework (cont.)
  • Unfair Labor Practices
  • Bargaining
    • Limited to terms and conditions of employment in U.S.
    • Broader in Canada
  • Outcomes determined by economic strength and, occasionally use of economic weapons
  • Administration by an administrative agency
    • NLRB in U.S.
    • Comparable bodies in Canadian jurisdictions
u s labor law three distinct eras
  • Pro-Employer Tilt: 1806-1926/35
  • Pro-Union Tilt: 1926/1935-1947
  • Government as Umpire?: 1947- Present
pro employer tilt 1806 1926 35
Pro-Employer Tilt: 1806-1926/35
  • 1806-42 Conspiracy Doctrine Established
    • Cordwainer’s Case in 1806
    • Any Combination to Raise Wages Unlawful
  • 1842-1932
    • Conspiracy Doctrine Rejected (Commonwealth v. Hunt)
      • A pro-union exception to the generally pro-employer period
    • Focus on Tactics
    • Through Early 1870’s - Damage Suits Against Unions
pro employer tilt 1806 1926 35 continued
Pro-Employer Tilt: 1806-1926/35(continued)
  • Starting in 1870’s - Injunction
    • Impairs union activity at its inception
    • Generally enjoined picketing at or near the employer's place of business
  • Anti-Trust Laws
    • Sherman Act (1890) prohibited combinations and conspiracies in restraint of trade
    • Union activity construed as a combination in restraint of trade
pro employer tilt 1806 1926 35 continued1
Pro-Employer Tilt: 1806-1926/35(continued)
  • Clayton Act (1914) attempt to exclude union activity from anti-trust
    • Narrow interpretation (Duplex case)
      • unions permitted to carry out “legitimate” objective
      • actions in restraint of trade (boycott) not “legitimate”
  • No protection for workers from employer retaliation for union activity
  • No vehicle for formal recognition of unions
    • Strikes were generally recognition strikes
  • Brandeis in dissent in Duplex case: “I have come to the conclusion that both the common law of a state and a statute of the United States declare the right of industrial combatants to push their struggle to the limits of the justification of self-interest . . . ” (254 U.S. 443, 488, 1921)
clayton act of 1914
Clayton Act of 1914
  • Sec. 17. - Antitrust laws not applicable to labor organizations
  • The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. Nothing contained in the antitrust laws shall be construed to forbid the existence and operation of labor . . . organizations, instituted for the purposes of mutual help, . . . or to forbid or restrain individual members of such organizations from lawfully carrying out the legitimate objects thereof; nor shall such organizations, or the members thereof, be held or construed to be illegal combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade, under the antitrust laws
pro union tilt 1926 1935 1947
Pro-Union Tilt: 1926/1935-1947
  • Railway Labor Act of 1926
    • covered labor relations in rails
    • developed by agreement of carriers and rail unions
    • rail strikes of concern due to impact of strikes on commerce
    • Created a National Mediation Board
      • Recognition
      • Settlement of Disputes
pro union tilt 1926 1935 1947 continued
Pro-Union Tilt: 1926/1935-1947(continued)
  • Norris La-Guardia Act of 1932
    • Removed Authority from Federal Courts to Issue Injunctions in Labor Disputes
      • Many states passed “Little Norris La-Guardia Act”
      • Northwest Airlines and refusal of bankruptcy court to enjoin a flight attendants’ strike (August ’06)
  • National Industrial Recovery Act (1933)
    • Section 7(a)
    • Participation in program contingent on recognizing rights of employees to organize
      • Difficulty in enforcement
      • Limited to Participants
pro union tilt 1926 1935 1947 continued1
Pro-Union Tilt: 1926/1935-1947(continued)
  • National Labor Relations (Wagner) Act of 1935
    • Opposed by employers (unlike RLA)
    • Provides structure of IR system
    • Still in Existence Today
    • Basic Principles
      • Procedures to determine whether ees wish to be represented by a labor organization (union)
      • Exclusive Representation
      • Unfair Labor Practices
      • National Labor Relations Board
pro union tilt 1926 1935 1947 continued2
Pro-Union Tilt: 1926/1935-1947(continued)
  • Structure of Wagner Act
    • Section 1 - Findings and Policies
    • Section 2 - Definitions
      • “Employer,” “Employee,” “Labor Organization”
    • Section 3 - Created a National Labor Relations Board
      • (at time) 3 members, 3 yr terms, appt. by President with consent of Senate
    • Section 4,5 - NLRB pay and location
    • Section 6 - Rule Making Authority
pro union tilt 1926 1935 1947 continued3
Pro-Union Tilt: 1926/1935-1947(continued)
  • Wagner Act (continued)
    • Section 7 - source of employee rights
      • self organization
      • form, join, assist labor orgs
      • bargain collectively through reps
      • other concerted activities for mutual aid or protection
pro union tilt 1926 1935 1947 continued4
Pro-Union Tilt: 1926/1935-1947(continued)
  • Wagner Act (continued)
    • Section 8 - Unfair Labor Practices by Employers
      • 8(1) no interference, restraint, or coercion
      • 8(2) no domination of labor organization
      • 8(3) no discrimination in regard to employment for purpose of encouraging or discouraging membership
      • 8(4) no discrimination for involvement in NLRB procedures
      • 8(5) may not refuse to bargain collectively with representative of ees
pro union tilt 1926 1935 1947 continued5
Pro-Union Tilt: 1926/1935-1947(continued)
  • Wagner Act (continued)
    • Section 9
      • Selection of Representatives (through procedures determined by Board)
      • Appropriate Unit (determined by Board)
      • Majority rule
    • Section 10
      • Prevention of UFLP’s
      • Board may issue complaints, compel evidence, decide cases, and petition courts for enforcement
    • Section 11
      • NLRB has investigatory authority
pro union tilt 1926 1935 1947 continued6
Pro-Union Tilt: 1926/1935-1947(continued)
  • Wagner Act (continued)
    • Section 12 - Fines for impairing Board Action
    • Section 13 - Right to Strike
summary of wagner act
Summary of Wagner Act
  • Pro Union
  • Focused on
    • Employee Rights to organize
    • Employer Actions that may impair that right
government as umpire 1947 present
Government as Umpire?: 1947- Present
  • Taft-Hartley Act of 1947
  • Addressed many employer concerns about Wagner Act
  • Enacted by a Republican Congress, overriding a Presidential veto.
  • What did T-H do?
government as umpire 1947 present continued
Government as Umpire?: 1947- Present (continued)
  • Increased size of NLRB from 3 to 5 members (Section 3)
    • Board may delegate authority to 3-member panel (quorum)
  • Created a General Counsel as an independent prosecutorial arm of NLRB (Section 3)
  • Provided employees with the right to refrain from union activity (Section 7)
government as umpire 1947 present continued1
Government as Umpire?: 1947- Present (continued)
  • Created a series of union UFLP’s
    • Prohibition on restraining or coercing employees or employers
    • Limitations on secondary activity (pressure on employees of uninvolved employers)
    • Prohibitions on featherbedding (pay for no work)
    • Prohibited “hot cargo” agreements
  • Outlawed closed shop
    • Permitted union shop if employer and union agree
    • States permitted to enact “right-to-work” statutes (Sec. 14b)
  • Permitted Employer “free speech (Sec. 8c)
government as umpire 1947 present continued2
Government as Umpire?: 1947- Present (continued)
  • Defined “duty to bargain”
  • Defined evidentiary obligations of Board
  • Made elections the preferred method of determining representation
  • Placed some constraints on Board’s unit determination authority
  • Excluded supervisors from coverage of the Act
  • Created a Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service
  • National Emergency Dispute Provisions
    • “imperil the national health or safety”
government as umpire 1947 present continued3
Government as Umpire?: 1947- Present (continued)
  • Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1958
    • Main purpose was to regulate internal union affairs
    • Amended NLRA
      • placed limits on recognitional/organizational picketing by unions
        • 8(b)(7)
      • closed loopholes in secondary activity provisions
        • -8(b)(4)
government as umpire 1947 present continued4
Government as Umpire?: 1947- Present (continued)
  • Health Care Amendments of 1974
    • Brought nonprofit health care institutions under the NLRA
    • Special measures to reduce possibility of strikes
procedures in board cases
Procedures in Board Cases
  • Charge (C) Cases
    • charge to Board
      • Regional office
    • investigation by a field examiner
    • complaint if charge has “merit” (General Counsel)
      • No complaint issued if charge has no merit
    • hearing before ALJ (formerly TX)
    • To Board
    • To Court of Appeals
    • To SC, if Court grants cert.
procedures in board cases continued
Procedures in Board Cases (continued)
  • Representation (R) Cases
    • To regional director
    • Will order an election if there is a showing of “substantial interest”
      • 30% of employees in a unit
    • Addresses unit dispute (if any)
      • Settlement
      • Hearing in front of field examiner with decision by regional director on behalf of Board
        • No direct appeal to courts, but employer may refuse to bargain if employees choose representation
      • Election
        • May be delayed if there is a UFLP charge
        • Regional office may entertain objections to outcome based on conduct during election
fiscal 2006 data
Fiscal 2006 Data
  • Unfair Labor Practice Cases
    • 24,153 cases closed
      • 17,963 charges against employers under 8(a)
      • 5,603 charges against unions under 8(b)
      • 587 charges under other provisions
  • Representation Cases
    • 1,583 RC elections, 126,364 employees
      • Representative selected
        • 1,045 elections (53.2%)
        • 59,905 employees (47.4%)
        • Mean size of unit = 57.3 employees
      • No representative selected
        • 919 elections (46.8%)
        • 66,459 employees (52.6%)
        • Mean size of unit = 72.3 employees
fiscal 2007 data
Fiscal 2007 Data
  • Unfair Labor Practice Cases
    • 23,131 cases closed
      • 17,058 charges against employers under 8(a)
      • 5,625 charges against unions under 8(b)
      • 448 charges under other provisions
  • Representation Cases
    • 1,382 RC elections, 83,847 employees
      • Representative selected
        • 799 elections (57.8%)
        • 42,198 employees (50.3%)
        • Mean size of unit = 52.8 employees
      • No representative selected
        • 583 elections (42.2%)
        • 41,649 employees (49.7%)
        • Mean size of unit = 71.4 employee
fiscal 2008 data
Fiscal 2008 Data
  • Unfair Labor Practice Cases (NLRB Ann. Rep. Table 7)
    • 23,308 cases closed
      • 17,001 charges against employers under 8(a)
      • 6,307 charges against unions under various provisions
  • Representation Cases (NLRB Ann. Rep. Table 13)
    • 1,610 RC elections, 111,013 employees
      • Representative selected
        • 1,024 elections (63.6%)
        • 68,004 employees (61.3%)
        • Mean size of unit = 66.4 employees
      • No representative selected
        • 586 elections (36.4%)
        • 43,009 employees (38.7%)
        • Mean size of unit = 73.4 employees
  • Unions win a majority of elections but only organize a minority of workers in units in which elections held
  • Unions have less success in larger units
    • Better working conditions?
    • Resources to oppose unions?
organizing in perspective
Organizing in Perspective
  • Mean number of employees in all units selecting representation, 1992-2008 =77,366
    • Seating capacity, Michigan State University (MSU) Spartan Stadium = 75,005
    • Average attendance at MSU football games, 1957-2007 = 70,540
  • A very small number of employees are involved in representation elections
    • If the union win rate were 100%, would make little difference in union representation rate

SOURCE FOR SPARTAN STADIUM DATA: http://www.msuspartans.com/facilities/spartan-stadium.html

current election issue
Current Election Issue
  • How is majority determined?
    • NLRA
      • NLRB determination of majority of votes case
    • Railway Labor Act
      • Currently
        • National Mediation Board (NMB)determination of majority of employees in a craft or class system-wide/company-wide
          • non-votes count as no votes
      • Proposed
        • NMB determination of majority of votes cast
          • NLRB counting model
administration of act
Administration of Act
  • NLRB
    • Two Members since December, 2007
    • Perceptions of partisanship and lack of confidence by unions and management
      • Increase in recess appointments to NLRB
      • Permits president to appoint a decision-maker with no consultation with other party
      • “Batching” of appointments
        • Two from President’s party
        • One from other party
unsuccessful attempts to amend nlra
Advocated by Unions, Opposed by Employers

1975: Common Situs Picketing

1977-78: Rights to Organize, faster elections, increase penalties on employers

1990 and 1993: Ban employers from hiring perm. replacements during strikes

Advocated by Employers, Opposed by Unions

1996: Ease restrictions on employee involvement programs

Unsuccessful Attempts to Amend NLRA
current bill
Current Bill
  • Advocated by unions, opposed by employers
    • Employee Free Choice Act
      • Certification without elections if a majority of employees sign authorization
      • First contract mediation and arbitration
      • Priority handling to discharge cases
      • Co-sponsorship in last session of Congress
        • 46 senators, 215 representatives
    • EFCA Link