Posts Tagged ‘unions’


Many of you may have attended 4th of July parties with fireworks as we celebrated our country’s birthday. While we want fireworks at a 4th of July party, you do not want them on your jobsite. But your friends in organized labor may have other ideas. At the dawn of the Obama administration in January 2009, we expected a significant push by organized labor to leverage its success in the 2008 elections to try to regain lost ground in terms of private sector union membership. Instead, the focus turned to healthcare and a number of issues that prevented the passage of laws like the Employee Free Choice Act that would have dramatically simplified union organizing. President Obama also made a mess through his recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board which, as of the writing, are before the Supreme Court with three lower courts having held them to be unconstitutional.

Now, however, contractors need to be aware of the fact that the stars are aligned in such a way that you should expect to see some type of union activity on your jobsites over the next several months. The NLRB is fully staffed with the most pro-union majority in its history. It is aggressively moving forward to give unions additional weapons to use on jobsites such as bannering, street theater and the ever popular large inflatable rat. The NLRB has also given unions almost complete control over the scope of the bargaining unit they can try to organize. It is expected that the Department of Labor will soon try to restrict the access of employers to effective legal representation in dealing with these types of issues. Since all of these administrative actions could be reversed with the election of a pro-business candidate in 2016, organized labor is ready to try to put the remaining days of the Obama administration to good use.

NOW is the time for you to learn about the variety of tactics unions might employ, where and how they might be utilized and what you can do to prepare for them. On Tuesday July 15, 2014 from 7:00am – 8:30am I will be presenting an interactive seminar on this topic. This session is designed for field superintendents, project managers and company executives. Don’t be caught unprepared!


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Posted in bannering, Construction, Construction Contracts, NLRB, NLRB, Union | No Comments »

In the case of Butt v. Carpenters & Joiners of Am., the Third Circuit recently held that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania wrongly dismissed the claims of four black female carpenters who claimed that the Carpenters and Joiners of America discriminated and retaliated against them in making job referrals.


The four female carpenters asserted sex discrimination claims under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and race discrimination claims under the Civil Rights Act of 1866 against the union, its business manager, and its business agent.  The plaintiffs also asserted Title VII and Section 1981 retaliation claims and at least one of the plaintiffs asserted race and sex bias claims under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.


The Third Circuit found that the lower court failed to properly consider certain factual issues and therefore the dismissal was improper.  One of the key facts had to do with the union’s agent allegedly telling one of the plaintiffs that “his people” were still out of work when she inquired about work.  The plaintiff interpreted the phrase “his people” to mean white men.  The lower court interpreted this statement to mean that the union’s agent did not identify with black female carpenters.  However, the plaintiff’s interpretation of the comment was the only interpretation that the appellate court could find on the record.  Thus, the appellate court found that the comment was enough to create a factual issue for trial on the discrimination claims.


As for the retaliation claims, the lower court took too narrow of a view of retaliation by focusing on retaliatory actions that resulted in a clear change in employment status.  According to the appellate court, the lower could should have also considered acts meant to keep workers from making discrimination complaints.  Here, the plaintiffs claimed that their reduction in hours was in retaliation for their direct complaints to the union, their EEOC discrimination charge against the union and their testimony before a Philadelphia advisory commission.  After two of the plaintiffs testified before the commission, the union’s agent sent the media a letter stating that two women had been laid off in the past because of poor performance.  Although the record contained little information about the letter that was sent to the press, the appellate court held that such action arguably could have sufficed as retaliatory action under the law and therefore the letter raised an issue of fact for trial.


This article is authored by attorney Shannon O. Young and is intended for educational purposes and to give you general information and a general understanding of the law only, not to provide specific legal advice. Any particular questions should be directed to your legal counsel or, if you do not have one, please feel free to contact us.


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Posted in Labor & Employment | No Comments »