Despite threats to defund the agency and an incendiary campaign of intimidation by right-wing members of Congress, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued two important decisions which overturned terrible rulings from the Bush years and re-established prior long-standing law.
In the first case,m (Laons Gasket Company), the Board re-established the long-standing and uncontroversial “recognition bar” doctrine, which prohibits decertification petitions or a rival petition from another union for up to a year after an employer has voluntarily recognized the union representing a majority of its employees.
The recognition bar doctrine, which had existed unchanged for over forty years, was abruptly overturned by the Bush Board in 2007.
In the second case (UGL-UNICCO Service Co), the Board restored the closely-related “successor bar” doctrine, which applies when a new employer hires the employees and continues the business formerly operated by another employer whose employees were represented by a union.
Under the successor bar doctrine, petitions to remove the incumbent union will be barred for six months from the commencement of bargaining (in cases where the new employer has not changed the wages and other terms of employment before bargaining with the union) or one year (where the employer has acted to establish new wages and terms of employment that differ from those in effect with the prior employer).
In both decisions, the Board acted upon the common-sense notion, which has been long recognized by the Supreme Court, that a new collective bargaining relationship “must be permitted to exist and function for a reasonable period in which it can be given a fair chance to succeed.”