An NLRB lawyer is calling for a ban on mandatory anti-union meetings

The chief adviser to the National Labor Council issued a note Thursday claiming that employers’ widespread practice of requiring workers to attend anti-union meetings is illegal under federal law, although the Labor Council’s precedent allows it.

Chief legal counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, who enforces federal labor law by prosecuting violations, said her office would soon file a lawsuit with the Labor Board, which decides similar issues, asking the board to overturn its precedent.

“This license for coercion is an anomaly in labor law incompatible with the protection of free choice of employees by law,” Ms Abruzzo said in a statement, citing the National Labor Law. “I believe that the precedent in the NLRB case, which tolerates such meetings, is contrary to the basic principles of labor law, our statutory language and our mandate in Congress.

In recent months, senior employers such as Amazon and Starbucks, who are facing growing union campaigns, have held hundreds of meetings trying to persuade workers not to unite, arguing that unions are a “third party” that will stand between management. and workers.

Amazon employees and consultants have repeatedly told workers during mandatory meetings that “they can receive more wages and benefits than they had before the union, the same amount they had or could potentially receive less,” according to testimonials from the NLRB hearings for last year’s union election in Alabama.

The company spent more than $ 4 million last year on consultants attending similar meetings looking for warehouse workers.

But many workers and union officials complain that these allegations are very misleading. Union workers usually earn more than non-union workers, and it is very unusual for compensation to fall as a result of a union contract.

Wilma B. Liebman, who headed President Barack Obama’s labor board, said she would probably share Ms. Abruzzo’s argument and could reverse his precedent. But Ms Liebman said it was unclear what the effect would be if the repeal would have, as many employees may feel compelled to attend anti-union meetings, even if they are no longer mandatory.

“Those on the fence may be reluctant to be absent for fear of retaliation or to be singled out,” she wrote in an email.

According to a spokeswoman, the regional offices on board, which Ms. Abruzzo heads, are also likely to file complaints against employers during the meetings. One union, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store, filed such a case in Bessemer, Alabama, where it recently helped organize workers who want to merge Amazon’s warehouse. Last week’s vote count showed unionists lagging behind with a few union opponents in the election, but the result will depend on several hundred contested votes, whose status will be determined in the coming weeks.

A spokesman for the Labor Council said the outcome of the “leading” case on the mandatory meetings board would be binding on other cases. The case is pending, but has not been identified.

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