On February 13, 2022, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held that Starbucks violated federal labor law at multiple locations in Philadelphia in 2019 and 2020. The decision, issued by the NLRB’s three Democrats, found that Starbucks unlawfully threatened, surveilled, and interrogated employees, prohibited discussion of terms and conditions of employment, reduced the work hours of union supporters, and ultimately terminated two employees for engaging in protected activity.
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On March 30, 2022, a panel in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals overruled nearly 30-year-old precedent and held that arbitration provisions do not survive the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in Pittsburgh Mailers Union Local 22 v. PG Publishing Co. The previous rule, first articulated in Luden’s Inc. v. Local No. 6 Union of the Bakery, Confectionary & Tobacco Workers International Union, 28 F.3d 347 (3d Cir. 1994), was premised on the idea that where an employer and a union agree to maintain certain terms and conditions of employment after the expiration of a CBA, a “new implied-in-fact-CBA” is formed that implicitly incorporates the expired CBA’s dispute resolution mechanisms. The only exceptions were situations where both parties intended the arbitration clause to expire with the contract or where one party, under the totality of the circumstances “objectively manifest[ed] to the other a particularized intent . . . to disavow or repudiate that term.” These exceptions were exceedingly narrow.
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Written descriptions of employee benefits may expose Pennsylvania employers to additional contractual obligations and liabilities. According to a three-judge Pennsylvania Superior Court panel, providing written descriptions to employees regarding various benefits, incentives and rewards may form a binding, unilateral contract creating rights and obligations separate from an employee’s at-will relationship with the employer.
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On June 23, 2020, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a “Back to Work” Emergency Ordinance guaranteeing reemployment to certain employees laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ordinance requires covered employers to provide written notice when layoffs occur while also prohibiting discrimination against, and requiring reasonable accommodations for, employees who experience a family care hardship.
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On July 20, labor organizations across the country are planning a “Strike for Black Lives,” a national walkout in support of “dismantling racism and white supremacy to bring about fundamental changes in our society, economy and workplaces.” When preparing for this and any political strike, employers should develop a response strategy — grounded in NLRB interpretations of employees’ rights to conduct political demonstrations — to limit liability and keep their businesses running.
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Last fall, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) moved away from the strict “clear and unmistakable” standard when determining whether unions and their members waived certain rights. Since issuing its MV Transportation, Inc. decision in September 2019, the NLRB no longer requires employers to demonstrate that a union clearly and unmistakably waived its right to bargain over the subject of a unilaterally implemented change. For a detailed analysis of last September’s NLRB decision, please see our September 2019 MV Transportation, Inc. alert. In the eight months since that decision, some courts have begun to apply elements of the new waiver standard.
Continue reading “Not Just ‘Clear and Unmistakable’: NLRB and Courts Embrace Contract Coverage Waiver Standard”