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Trump: Get Rid of Your Union at any Time

Thanks to a $2M donation to Trump, the NLRB will overturn the Contract Bar Doctrine

Brian Young's picture
Jul 06, 2020

Thanks to a big Trump donor, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is considering limiting or overturning an important rule that protects recently organized workplaces.

The challenge comes from Mountaire, a Delaware chicken producer. At their 800-person plant in Delaware, workers are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). Of course, the  National Right to Work Foundation (NRTWF) also jumped on the case when a chicken processing worker, Oscar Cruz Sosa, attempted to decertify his union. The decertification came with the support of his employer, Mountaire. While the NLRB allowed the decertification vote to begin, with ballots needing to be mailed back by July 14th, UFCW challenged the vote saying that they should be covered under the Contact Bar Doctrine. If the board finds in favor of the union then the votes won’t be counted, but if they find in favor of the company the board could limit or eliminate the doctrine altogether.

The Contract Bar Doctrine, says that once an agreement is executed, no representative meetings are allowed within the unit until the expiration of the contract. There is also a time limit, limiting the doctrine to the first three years. The Contact Bar Doctrine is an important rule as it encourages both the union and the employer to work together to achieve labor peace. “One of the arguments in favor of these bars is it gives both sides an incentive to be reasonable…as opposed to the feeling you’ve got to fight to the hilt about everything,” said AFL-CIO General Counsel Craig Becker.

With the contract bar doctrine, unions have some wiggle room to make reasonable concessions. For instance, if an employer needs some concession to keep the plant open, union leaders don’t have to fear an immediate member uprising if they agree to address the employer’s issue. While some companies might like the chaos, Martin Malin, professor of law and co-director of the Institute for Law and the Workplace at the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law says that employers have had a long history of liking the law.

“You could have a race where one union is seeking to take over for another… it’s a potential minefield for employers: What do you do?” says Malin. For an employer, this can get old real quick. While the Right to Work Foundation, one of the groups sponsoring the challenge, envisions bosses pushing decertification campaigns, the reality is that it could also open a workplace to dueling factions, leaving the company stuck in the middle and constantly trying to negotiate deals with new union representatives who are constantly concerned about getting taken out by the other faction.

Mountaire is run by Ron Cameron a major Republican and conservative donor. Cameron and the company have donated over $2 Million to Trump’s campaign. That money seems to be well spent since the NLRB decided to take up the company’s case and since Trump has repealed over 80 environmental rules and regulations that affected the company.

With the NLRB looking at this case, the expectation is that they will rule to lessen the three-year ban or to eliminate it entirely. If that happens, expect the NRTWF to begin running even more decertification campaigns around the country as the rules continue to get tilted in the employer's favor.

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