Be Careful In Conveying Information About Benefits Available to Union v. Non-Union Employees


In Woodbridge Winery and Cannery, the National Labor Relations Board affirmed an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) decision that an employer’s handbook provision regarding its incentive plan violated employees’ rights to participate in a union under Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act.

The handbook provision stated that “[a]ll non-union full-time and regular part-time employees…are eligible for the incentive plan.”  The Board found that the provision was unlawful because it conveyed the message that employees choosing union representation are automatically ineligible for the plan. As a result, unionized employees would be disadvantaged because of their unionized status.  In a footnote, the Board contrasted the provision with lawful benefit-eligibility language that indicates that coverage for union-represented employees is subject to collective bargaining.