SCOTUScast 4-23-15 featuring Michael DeBoer Michael DeBoer April 23, 2015
On January 26, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Tackett. The issue in this case is whether, when courts interpret collective bargaining agreements in Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) cases, they should assume that silence concerning the duration of retiree health-care benefits means the parties intended those benefits to vest (and therefore continue indefinitely), or should require that it be stated explicitly (or at least stated in some way) that health-care benefits are intended to endure after the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Thomas, the Court held unanimously that when determining whether retiree benefits should continue indefinitely after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement, courts should apply ordinary contract principles. Those principles do not support a presumption that the agreement reflects an intent to vest retirees with lifetime benefits. The judgment of the Sixth Circuit was vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings. Justice Ginsburg filed a concurring opinion, which Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined.
To discuss the case, we have Michael DeBoer, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the Faulkner University School of Law. Labor & Employment Law Practice Group Podcast
On December 15, 2014, the National Labor Relations Board published a final rule amending its representation case procedures, which will become effective on April 14, 2015. According to the Board, the final rule retains the essentials of existing representation case procedures but removes “unnecessary barriers to the fair and expeditious resolution of representation cases.” Among other things, the rule shortens the election process to as few as 14 days from the current median time of 38 days, requires employers to give unions employees’ personal telephone numbers and email addresses, and makes post-election appeals discretionary with the Board rather than as of right.
The final rule has been challenged in lawsuits brought by employer associations in the U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia and Western District of Texas. The complaints allege that the rule will restrict communication between employers and employees before an election, depriving employers of due process and speech rights and employees of information needed to decide intelligently how to vote.
Litigation and Free Speech & Election Law Practice Groups Podcast
- Homer L. Deakins, Jr., Chairman Emeritus, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
- Brent Garren, Deputy General Counsel, Local 32BJ, Service Employees International Union
- Hon. John N. Raudabaugh, former member, National Labor Relations Board, Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law, Ave Maria School of Law, National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation
James Manley March 26, 2015
The laws of six states prohibit businesses—but not unions or other groups—from contributing to political parties, committees, or candidates. On February 24, 2015, the Goldwater Institute filed suit on behalf of two family-owned Massachusetts businesses to challenge Massachusetts’ political contribution ban. Since 1908, businesses have faced a total contribution ban, but special rules implemented in 1988 allow unions to contribute as much as $15,000 before any disclosure requirements or other contribution limits apply to the union. After unions have donated $15,000 to campaigns, their PACs can continue to contribute up to the ordinary limits. Meanwhile, business-funded PACs are banned from contributing. Does the Massachusetts law violate state and federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection, free speech, and free association?
Labor & Employment Law Practice Group Podcast
- Jim Manley, Senior Attorney, Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, The Goldwater Institute
In 2012 and 2013, Indiana and Michigan, respectively, passed Right to Work laws covering both public and private sector employees. Wisconsin (2012) passed Act 10, which created Right to Work protections for most public employees and limited many aspects of public sector bargaining.
In response to this legislation, unions and their supporters in each of these states filed numerous state and federal lawsuits, challenging these laws on a wide variety of federal and state constitutional grounds. Some of the cases have been decided and others remain pending. The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently turned down a major challenge to Act 10, the Indiana Supreme Court recently heard oral argument on one state constitutional challenge, and the Michigan Supreme Court is slated to hear oral argument soon on a challenge brought by civil service unions. In addition, employees seeking to resign their memberships or cut off dues deductions have filed numerous actions in state courts and administrative agencies to enforce the laws in the face of union policies designed to restrict resignations and dues revocations. The current status of the three states’ laws and the many court challenges will be discussed in this Teleforum.
SCOTUScast 7-28-14 featuring Andrew Grossman
- Milton L. Chappell, Staff Attorney, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation
On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Harris v. Quinn. The central question in this case concerned whether a state can, consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, compel in-home care providers paid for through Medicare, also known as “personal assistants” or “PAs,” to financially support a union to be their exclusive representative with respect to employment-related collective bargaining.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Alito, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that the First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from PAs who do not want to join or support the union. Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas joined the opinion of the Court. Justice Kagan wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor. The decision of the Seventh Circuit was reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.
To discuss the case, we have Andrew Grossman who is an Associate at Baker & Hostetler LLP and Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute.