In contravention of decades-old precedent, employers may be required to recognize unions without a secret ballot election, thereby denying employers the opportunity to protect the private choice of their employees. The National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB” or “Board”) General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, argued that the Board should reinstate the recognition process and expand the ability of the Board to order an employer to bargain with a union even without its winning an election.

Continue Reading NLRB General Counsel Seeks to Reinstate Radical Standard for Union Recognition and Restrict Employer Free Speech During Corporate Organizing Campaigns

Under well-settled, decades-old precedent, employers have historically been free to hold mandatory “captive audience” meetings to educate employees, share views on unionization, and discuss what employees’ rights are with respect to the same. However, on April 7, 2022, the NLRB General Counsel (“GC”) issued a memorandum stating her intent to ask the National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) to reconsider this rule, and overturn 75 years of precedent allowing an employer to hold “captive audience” meetings. Notwithstanding the plain wording of Section 8(c) of the NLRA, the GC takes the position that such mandatory meetings are inconsistent with employees’ rights under the NLRA. According to the GC, “captive audience” meetings chill employees’ Section 7 rights to refrain from listening to employer speech regarding unionization. She argues that employers typically use threats to coerce employees to attend mandatory meetings, and therefore these meetings fall outside the scope of statutory and constitutional free speech protections. Instead, she will urge the Board to require that an employer must make clear to employees that their attendance at these meetings is truly voluntary. While this memorandum does not change current law, it signals the GC’s intent to bring unfair labor practice charges against an employer for holding “captive audience” meetings in order to bring the issue before the Board.

Continue Reading NLRB General Counsel Will Ask the Board to Find That Captive Audience Meetings Violate the NLRA

On July 6, and after consulting with the Board’s Regional Directors (“RDs”) and other of the Agency’s internal stakeholders, the NLRB’s General Counsel (GC) issued Memorandum GC 20-10 offering suggested protocols for the RDs to follow as a way of returning to manual elections in light of the ongoing pandemic.  Before COVID-19, the overwhelming majority of National Labor Relations Board-conducted representation elections were done manually.  Board agents typically came to an employer’s place of business, set up a voting booth and employees were allowed to vote en masse on whether or not they wished to be represented by a union by manually marking a paper ballot.  Elections were run in this manner because the workplace was where almost all of the employees were physically present and maximum employee participation in the election process could be assured.  In addition to providing a level election playing field favoring neither management nor labor, and minimizing the Board’s physical oversight of the voting process, manual voting guarantees that elections can be held under laboratory conditions by greatly minimizing the risks of inappropriate conduct that could adversely affect the outcome of an election.
Continue Reading Will the NLRB GC’s “Suggested” Manual Election Protocols Matter?

On November 8, 2017, Peter B. Robb was sworn in as the General Counsel (GC) of the NLRB for a four year term. Robb succeeds Richard Griffin, who has been the GC since November 2013. Robb wasted no time in taking initial steps to undo many of the NLRB’s more controversial recent decisions. On December 1, 2017, Robb issued Memorandum 18-02 directing the NLRB’s regional offices on which types of charges should be submitted to his Division of Advice and rescinding policy memoranda issued by the prior GCs.
Continue Reading New Labor Board GC Signals Overturning Obama-Era Rulings, But Anticipated Vacancies and Recusals Create Uncertainty

Senate Republicans recently confirmed William Emanuel, the second Trump nominee to the five-member National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”), giving the Board a Republican majority for the first time since 2007. Mr. Emanuel’s confirmation follows the September 25, 2017 appointment of Peter Robb, a management-side labor and employment lawyer, as General Counsel of the Board. Each of President Trump’s recent appointments are expected to advance the president’s pro-business and pro-employer policies. In particular, Mr. Robb’s replacement of the current General Counsel, Richard Griffin, is a crucial step towards upending the Board’s recent anti-employer rulings.
Continue Reading Labor Relations Update: New NLRB General Counsel Nominee Poised to Undo Obama-Era Precedents