CONNstruction - Summer 2011 - (Page 11)

newsandviews decision to build a new plant in South Carolina was motivated by anti-union animus and will seek to have the work sent back to Washington State. Two other recent decisions also trouble employers. Pro-union supervisor solicitation does not nullify election results Seven different supervisors soliciting signatures on a union representation petition did not call for setting aside the election results, the Board held in the case of Terry Machine Co. The supervisors “were actively engaged in the union’s organizing drive” and oversaw the work of approximately half the eligible voters in the election. The employer, however, “engaged in an extensive anti-union campaign,” according to the Board. In deciding the supervisors’ actions were not objectionable, the Board found the effect of any pro-union solicitations was “mitigated” by the employer’s own conduct and did not materially affect the election results. The Disappointing Performance of the NLRB By Jack Leahy CCIA Director of Labor Relations When the National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935, the vision of labor law policy established through the vehicle of an expert Board knowledgeable about labor relations and supportive of collective bargaining was envisioned. However this never came to pass. One reason is the political nature of the process for appointing Board members, which sometimes has been used to reward labor for its support and sometimes has been used as a way for punishing labor for opposing the President’s policies. With two recess appointments of union lawyers to the five-member Board in March 2010, we are beginning to see NLRB decisions that clearly show that the President is in the “reward labor for its support” mode. Several recent decisions are summarized below. Board protects pro-union tee shirts which disparage employer It is a violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act to prohibit employees from wearing tee shirts with a message supporting the union during collective bargaining and to threaten and suspend employees who defied the prohibition, even though the message might disparage the employer, the Board held in the case of Southern New England Telephone Co. During the course of collective bargaining, employees wore “Prisoner” shirts during the work day, including during visits to customer homes and businesses. The shirt itself was “mostly a plain white T-shirt with ‘Inmate #’ in relatively small print on the upper-left front. On the back of the shirt, two sets of vertical stripes appeared with ‘Prisoner of AT&T’ in between.” Although recognizing employees have a protected right to wear union insignia in the workplace, the employer argued that there were “special circumstances” here that warranted prohibiting the employees from wearing the shirts. It argued the shirts would cause fear and alarm its customers. The Board disagreed, noting that the “Prisoner” shirt was not reasonably expected, under the circumstances, to cause fright or distress among the employer’s customers because the tee shirt itself could not be mistaken for a prison garb “the totality of the circumstances would make it clear that the technician was one of Respondent’s employees and not a convict.” These decisions illustrate anew the impact of the Board on workplace policies and conduct and serve as cautionary tales. Employers must stay abreast of the Board’s position on various issues and may have to follow a precautionary principle to avoid possible adverse decisions. Move the work back Surging global demand for Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner required additional production facilities. The company built a new 1.2 million-square-foot plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, rather than in Washington State where its existing factory was located. This was the first jet assembly plant built in the U.S. in 40 years. According to the company, the decision to expand to South Carolina resulted from an objective analysis used in every site selection. Union leaders in Washington State were asked to accept a long-term “no strike” clause that would ensure production, something union leaders would not agree to. In starting production in South Carolina, no union members in Washington were adversely affected – in fact, more than 2,000 jobs was added at the Everett, Washington facility, where seven Dreamliners a month are produced. The North Charleston plant will produce three per month. The NLRB general counsel issued a complaint that will go to hearing in June alleging that the company’s CONNstruction / Summer 2011 / 11

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CONNstruction - Summer 2011

CONNstruction - Summer 2011
Restoring Craftsmanship
How Hiring Preference Laws Could Impair Quality Craftsmanship
The Disappointing Performance of the NLRB
Specialty Contractors Benefi t from AGC and Vice Versa
New Life for Old Buildings
Maintaining the Tradition
Developing the FutureDeveloping the Future
New Perils for Contractors in the ‘Greening’ of Connecticut
The Associated General Contractors of Connecticut Annual Meeting – February 2011
Senator Richard Blumenthal at CCIA
CONNDOT Paving Conference
Index to Advertisers

CONNstruction - Summer 2011