More NLRB Advice Memos – Wage Increases and Information, and Beck Rights!
The National Labor Relations Board’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) continues to issue Advice Memoranda, as it has regularly done for the past year or so. Of particular interest are the following:
Providence St. John’s Health Center (June 17, 2019). The OGC found that the employer violated the National Labor Relations Act when it failed to give employees an annual wage increase following expiration of its three-year contract with the union. The OGC determined that the annual wage increase was an established practice that existed before, as well as during, the contract term. Moreover, the contract language did not limit the increases to the contract term. Thus, the post-contract “status quo” was to continue the practice of annual wage increases.
Centura (June 24, 2019). The OGC found that the employer did not violate an employee’s right under the National Labor Relations Act to engage in concerted activity regarding the terms and conditions of employment when it terminated an employee based on its belief that the employee inappropriately divulged confidential wage information, obtained through the employee’s position in human resources, to other employees. The employer believed that the employee had breached the confidentiality required of the position.
United Food & Commercial Workers Union, Local 5 (Safeway Store) (January 22, 2019). In CWA v. Beck, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a private union may not use monies collected from objecting non-members (i.e. employees who are subject to a union security clause that requires them to pay union dues, but who choose not to become members of the union) for activities unrelated to collective bargaining, contract administration or grievances – such as political advocacy. Those “Beck objectors” are consequently entitled to a reduction in their dues. Unions must provide a Beck notice to its members, informing them of the right not to pay full union dues and to revoke any prior dues authorizations.
In this advice memo, the OGC held that the Beck notice provided by the union to its members was deficient because it did not include the percentage reduction in dues and fees for Beck objectors, which the OGC deemed “essential to an employee’s ability to decide on an informed basis whether to become a Beck objector.” This recommendation would expand the Beck notice requirements for unions, since such information was previously only required to be given to those who already objected, and not at the initial notice stage.
Following the internal dissemination of this advice memo, the General Counsel issued a GC memo in which he adopted the position recommended by the advice memo, stating that he intends to ask the Board to extend a union’s obligation to disclosing the reduced amount of dues and fees for objectors in the initial Beck notice, which we discussed in our March 2019 E-Update.