Case 1 – How Were We To Know? When the Collective Barga…

Case 1 – How Were We To Know? When the Collective Bargaining Agreement expired on September 22, 1985, representatives of Oxford Woodworking and International Woodworkers of America began negotiations. They agreed to extend the agreement from one meeting to another; however, on September 30, five employees in the bargaining unit went on strike. Beginning on October 3, the Company was looking for permanent replacements for the striking workers. They placed an advertisement in the local newspaper for four days and then began taking applications. On October 9, the Plant Manager told four of the strikers on the picket line that he intended to begin hiring replacements on October 14. Once hearing this, the Union negotiators requested the Vice President for Manufacturing to be in the next negotiating session, scheduled for October 10. The Company did indeed begin hiring permanent replacements. One reported to work on October 17 and three more were began their jobs on October 18. In accordance with federal law, the names of striking workers were placed on a preferential hiring list. On October 28, the employee who had not been replaced was allowed to return to work. Further, one of the replacements that was to begin work on the 18th never reported to the job and the replacement that started in the 17th quit. This left two of the strikers who had either not been replaced or returned to job. The Union felt that this action was nothing less than termination and was in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Union filed a grievance on behalf of the two workers. Supposedly, union officials had not been aware of the Company’s intent to replace. Additionally, the Union argued that the Company could only dismiss employees for proper cause, not for an economic strike, thus this was illegal. Was the comment of the Plant Manager that he intended to begin to hire replacements legally risky? Explain. Explain your opinion of the union’s claim that an employer can only dismiss employees for proper cause and not in cases of an economic strike. Based on your understanding of Section 8(a)(3), how would you rule in this case? Why? Case 2 – Sorry… I Can’t In 1937, Case and Company, at its Rock Island nonunion plant, offered each employee an individual contact of employment. The contracts were uniform and for a term of one year. Case agreed to furnish employment as conditions allowed, to pay a set wage rate, which the Company might reevaluate if the job changed, and to maintain certain benefits. The employee agreed to accept the provisions, to serve faithfully and honestly for the contract’s term, to comply with factory rules, and they would not be paid for any defective work. In 1954 the company was unionized and the Union questioned the legality of the contracts. The NLRB ruled that the contract was not a condition of employment, nor was the status of individual employees affected by reason of signing or failing to sign the contracts. Further, the Board said that the agreements were not coerced or obtained by unfair labor practice(s). This union was decertified in 1967. In 1982, while the individual contracts were in effect, a union petitioned the NLRB for certification as the exclusive bargaining representative of the production and maintenance employees. Four months later, a hearing was held, at which Case urged the NLRB that the individual contacts should be a bar to representation proceedings. The Board, however, directed an election, which was won by the union. The union was certified as the exclusive bargaining representative of the employees in respect to wages, hours, and other conditions of employment. The Union then asked the Company to bargain. Case refused, declaring that it could not deal with the Union in any manner affecting rights and obligations under the individual contracts while the contracts remained in effect. It offered to negotiate on matters, which did not affect rights under the individual contacts, and said that upon the expiration of the contracts it would bargain as to all matters. Twice the company sent circulars to its employees asserting the validity of the individual contacts and stating the position that it took before the Board in reference to them. The Union felt the company had violated both Section 8(a)(5) and Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act). Further, where the earlier NLRB case only questioned the legality of the contracts, this complaint dealt with the idea that the contacts could prevent the employer from bargaining. What do you think was the purpose of the collective trade agreements mentioned in this case? Do you think there is a legal difference between an individual contract and a union-negotiated (collective) one? Explain your answer. What is your judgment in this case? Explain.

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