Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Sunday, September 21, 2003

6th Cir. Upholds Board Ruling Allowing Offsite Employees Access At Separate Facility

An unfair labor practice filed in 1995 finally gets its review by an appellate court, and by a 2-1 decision the 6th Circuit enforces the Board's decision that the employer's act of barring an employee from access to a facility where he did not work for purposes of exercising Section 7 rights in an organizing drive, violates the NLRA. First Healthcare Corp. v. NLRB (6th Cir. 9/18/03). The Board had first found that the rights of the non-facility employees were direct, not derivative of the on-site employees. Secondly, while the Board did recognize that there was a difference in the employer's property rights when dealing with employee's who worked at the facility in question and employees coming from other facilities, it found that the employer's rights in this case were adequately protected. Although the majority opinion agreed, the dissent would not have given deference to the Board's position on the balancing of the employer's property rights versus those of the employees from another facility.

Obviously, this holding expands the role of employees from unionized facilities in organizing drives at non-union locations of a company. A fact not lost on Local 1999 of SEIU, the union involved in the decision. In one of its on-line publications shortly after the Board's decision headlined "Local 1111 Members Visit Satellite Plants" it noted
The Rockwell organizers were able to take advantage of a recent National Labor Relations Board ruling ... that permits employees of a company to have access to non-production areas, such as parking lots, at other company locations.

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