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Virus-Related NLRB Charges Against Employers Dismissed in Memos

Aug. 14, 2020, 12:09 AM

A concrete company lawfully refused to negotiate over a union’s proposal for paid sick leave and hazard pay due to the pandemic, the NLRB general counsel’s office said in one of five advice memos calling for the dismissal of coronavirus-related charges against employers.

Memphis Ready Mix’s collective bargaining agreement with an International Brotherhood of Teamsters affiliate contained language waiving the union’s right to midterm bargaining over those issues, the National Labor Relations Board GC’s office said in a memo made public Thursday.

But the company could be required to bargain if the union provided notice that it wants to reopen the CBA at least 60 days before the contract’s Sept. 30 expiration date, according to the memo.

The five memos that the GC office’s division of advice sent to NLRB regional offices provide a window into the agency’s view on labor disputes sparked by the pandemic. All of the charges in the cases were either dismissed or withdrawn.

Also on Thursday, the NLRB rejected a Michigan hospital’s objection to an administrative law judge holding a hearing through videoconferencing rather than doing it in person due to the coronavirus. William Beaumont Hospital didn’t show that the ALJ abused his discretion by ordering the remote hearing, nor did the company establish that its due process rights would be violated, the board said.

Advice Memos

The general counsel’s office told the regional office in Fort Worth, Texas, to dismiss charges alleging a drywall company illegally fired a worker in retaliation for comments made at a safety meeting.

The worker gained the protection of federal labor law by raising concerns about the lack of supplies needed for employees to wash their hands as a precaution against the virus, the GC’s office said. But there was insufficient evidence necessary to establish an initial case of discriminatory treatment against Marek Brothers Drywall Co., the office said.

The division of advice also instructed regional offices to dismiss charges against:

  • Hornell Gardens for allegedly discharging and threatening workers stemming from disputes related to Covid-19 safety issues;
  • ABM Business and Industry for allegedly not providing a union information connected to a grievance over pandemic-related layoffs; and
  • Crowne Plaza O’Hare for allegedly not providing a union information connected to a grievance over pandemic-related layoffs.

ABM attorney Daniel Raspatello declined to comment. Lawyers for Memphis Ready Mix, William Beaumont Hospital, Marek Brothers Drywall, Hornell Gardens, and Crowne Plaza O’Hare weren’t immediately available for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Iafolla in Washington at riafolla@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Karl Hardy at khardy@bloomberglaw.com; Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com

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