Magazine article Workforce

Court Rules Workers Can Serve Two Masters

Magazine article Workforce

Court Rules Workers Can Serve Two Masters

Article excerpt

Help Wanted: Paid Union Organizers Need Not Apply. Post that and you'll find yourself before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Although hiring any one of the increasing number of union organizers who join your company for the sole purpose of soliciting union support can have negative effects for your company, their activities are legal.

The case. In a key 1995 U.S. Supreme Court case, NLRB v. Town and Country Electric, the court ruled that an employee can serve two masters. It upheld the union's claim that one union organizer was wrongfully dismissed and 10 other organizers were wrongfully refused employment when they applied for positions through an employment agency for jobs at Town and Country Electric in International Falls, Minnesota. The result cost the employer thousands of dollars in legal fees and back wages for each of the 11 union organizers.

The Court's decision came as a result of the union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), filing charges with the NLRB alleging several violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The charges specifically alleged that the union organizers were refused employment and were discriminated against based on their union affiliation.

Rhonda Aliouat, regional attorney for the NLRB's Region Three in Buffalo, New York, says that when the NLRB investigates salting cases, the question the company has to answer is whether there was a failure to hire or a failure to consider to hire the union organizer. Or if the organizer was hired, was he or she fired as a result of his or her union activity? You need to apply certain standards:

Was there union activity?

Did the employer have knowledge of union activity?

Was there employer animus toward that union activity, and was there discrimination?

That was how the Board investigated the Town and Country Electric case. …

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