United Auto Workers Local 376 (Colt's Manufacturing), (2011)

Docket Number:34-CB-002631
 
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NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the bound volumes of NLRB decisions. Readers are requested to notify the Executive Secretary, National Labor Relations Board, Washington, D.C. 20570, of any typographical or other formal errors so that corrections can be included in the bound volumes.

International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America Local Union #376 (Colt2019s Manufacturing Company, Inc.) and George H. Gally.

International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America, UAW (New York University) and Solo J. Dowuona-Hammond. Cases 342013 CB20132631, 342013CB20132632, and 342013CB20133025 (formerly 22013CB201320730)

May 27, 2011

DECISION AND ORDER

BY CHAIRMAN LIEBMAN AND MEMBERS PEARCE AND HAYES

The issue in this case is whether, in the context of their Beck procedures1 as a whole, the Respondent Unions2019 rule requiring potential objectors to renew their objections on an annual basis violates the duty of fair representation.

We recently addressed this aspect of our Beck jurisprudence in Machinists Local Lodge 2777 (L-3 Communications), 355 NLRB No. 174 (2010), where we found an annual renewal rule unlawful. We emphasized, however, that we would evaluate such requirements on a case-by-case basis to determine 201cwhether the union has demonstrated a legitimate justification for an annual renewal requirement or otherwise minimized the burden it imposes on potential objectors.201d Id., slip op. at 1.2

In this case, for the reasons explained below, we find that the burden imposed on potential objectors under the Unions2019 Beck procedures is so minimal that the annual renewal rule here cannot be held to violate the duty of fair representation.3

1 See Communications Workers v. Beck, 487 U.S. 735 (1988).

2 Member Pearce joined the majority in L-3 Communications in finding that the appropriate legal framework for analyzing whether a union2019s annual renewal rule violated Sec. 8(b)(1)(A) was the duty of fair representation. He would have dismissed the complaint, however, finding that the union2019s rule in L-3 was not arbitrary, discriminatory or undertaken in bad faith. Although Member Pearce adheres to his dissent, he agrees with Chairman Liebman that this case is factually distinguishable from L-3, and that dismissals of the instant complaints are warranted under the majority2019s analysis in L-3.

3 On July 20, 2007, the Board issued an order denying the General Counsel2019s motion and the Unions2019 cross-motion for summary judgment, and remanding the case for trial. On March 3, 2008, Administra-

I. BACKGROUND

A. The UAW2019s Beck Objection Procedure

The Respondent Unions, International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) and UAW Local Union #376, inform all represented employees, on an annual basis in the UAW bimonthly magazine for July2013August, of the Unions2019 centralized procedure for the exercise of Beck rights. This magazine notice specifies the percentage of dues reduction to which objectors will be entitled for the 12-month period running from August through the following July. The notice also explains that a nonmember can file a Beck objection in writing at any time, by regular mail or hand delivery, but that an objection must be renewed after 1 year to maintain objector status without interruption.4

When a Beck objection is received, the UAW acknowledges receipt by letter. The letter states the reduced percentage of dues the objector must pay for the year, encloses the most recent annual financial report on how the reduction for the current year was calculated, and confirms that the objector2019s dues will be reduced by the appropriate amount. The letter also informs the objector that his objection will expire after 1 year (specifying the expiration date prominently at the head of the letter), but that the objection will be open to renewal in writing during the 30-day period before expiration.

At about the same time this acknowledgement letter is sent to the objector, the UAW sends a corresponding letter of instruction to the objector2019s employer, authoriz-

tive Law Judge Joel P. Biblowitz, issued the attached decision. The Unions filed exceptions and a supporting brief, the Charging Parties filed exceptions and a supporting brief, the General Counsel filed a reply brief to both sets of exceptions, and the Charging Parties filed an answering brief to the Unions2019 exceptions. On July 22, 2010, the Board denied the Unions2019 motion to reopen the record to present new evidence. The Unions and the Charging Parties all filed supplemental briefs addressing our decision in L-3, supra.

The National Labor Relations Board has delegated its authority in this proceeding to a three-member panel.

The Board has considered the decision and the record in light of the exceptions and briefs and has decided to affirm the judge2019s rulings, findings, and conclusions only to the extent consistent with this Decision and Order.

Member Becker previously declined to recuse himself from this case in response to the Charging Party2019s motion, which was grounded on the identity of the Charging Parties2019 counsel. See Service Employees Local 121RN (Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center), 355 NLRB No. 40, slip op. at 5201313 (2010). Subsequently, Member Becker recused himself sua sponte and took no part in the case, pursuant to 5 CFR § 2635.502(b)(1)(iv) and Executive Order 13490, Secs. 1 and 2, on the grounds that an employee of one of his former employers represents the Respondent in this case.

4 At least since 2007, the same information has been posted on the UAW2019s website, under the link 201cUnion Security Agreements.201d

356 NLRB No. 164

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ing the dues reduction and noting that the employee2019s objector status will extend for 12 months. A copy of this letter is also sent to the objector.

In May or June of each year, the UAW completes its annual financial report to objectors, recalculating the Beck dues reduction on the basis of the Unions2019 expenditures over the previous year, to be effective for the next 12-month, August2013July period.5 This report is mailed to all current objectors in June or July, with a cover letter re-flagging the objector2019s 12-month expiration date and how it may be extended.

In October 20072014i.e., after the complaint in this case was issued, but before the hearing2014the UAW began the additional practice of sending a reminder letter to each objector 15 days before the end of the employee2019s objection year, again explaining that objection status will end on the specified expiration date unless extended in writing for another year, but also that a new objection may be filed at any time.

If an objector renews on time, an acknowledgment letter is sent to the objector, stating the new expiration date subject to renewal. If an objector fails to renew before the end of an objection year, the UAW sends a letter of notice to the employer indicating that the employee2019s dues withholding should accordingly be increased to the full amount. A copy of this letter is sent to the employee.

B. Charging Party Gally

Charging Party George Gally, an employee of Colt2019s Manufacturing Company, resigned from the UAW in 1985. He obtained objector status. On March 17, 2003, Gally sent a letter to the Unions stating that he wanted to renew his objection 201cfor the next 3 years.201d On March 27, 2003, the Unions acknowledged his objection, but informed him that 201c[a]nnual renewal of your Beck objection is still required,201d and that accordingly the new expiration date for his objection would be April 1, 2004. The record does not show that Gally communicated further with the UAW, but the Unions have continued to treat him as a Beck objector.

C. Charging Party Dowuona-Hammond Charging Party Solo Dowuona-Hammond, an employee of New York University (NYU), resigned from the UAW and from UAW Local 7902 (not named as a respondent) on May 27, 2004. His resignation letter invoked his Beck rights without stating a time frame. The UAW acknowledged receipt of Dowuona-Hammond2019s

5 The information in the annual financial report is provided to objectors in compliance with the requirements established in California Saw & Knife Works, 320 NLRB 224, 2392013243 (1995), enfd. sub nom. Machinists v. NLRB, 133 F.3d 1012 (7th Cir. 1998), cert. denied sub nom. Strang v. NLRB, 525 U.S. 813 (1998).

DECISIONS OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD

objection on November 1, 2004, informed him of the annual renewal requirement, and treated him as an objector.6

On November 16, 2005, the UAW informed NYU by letter, with a copy to Dowuona-Hammond, that he had not timely renewed his objection and that his dues should be increased accordingly. Dowuona-Hammond again objected in writing on December 2, 2005, this time stating that he wished his objection to continue 201cuntil the UAW is decertified. . . .201d On January 24, 2006, the UAW acknowledged this objection, informed him of the annual renewal requirement, and again treated Dowuona-Hammond as an objector. On January 17, 2007, the UAW informed NYU, with a copy to Dowuona-Hammond, that he had not renewed his objection and that his dues should be increased accordingly. The record contains no additional evidence of any communications between Dowuona-Hammond and the UAW.

D. The Judge2019s Findings

The complaints predicated on Gally and Dowuona-Hammond2019s respective unfair labor practice charges were consolidated on August 30, 2007.

The judge ultimately found that the annual renewal requirement 201ccannot be characterized as either onerous or overly burdensome;201d that the Unions2019 Beck procedure 201ckeeps the objectors well informed201d of their annual expiration dates; and that 201cbecause of the numerous reminders that the UAW sends to them, this burden [of annual renewal] is insignificant.201d However, the judge found that the Unions...

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