The federal agency that oversees labor disputes is expected to issue a decision this fall that could determine the future of a tactic that unions use to organize auto supplier plants.
The case, involving a Dana Corp. plant in Michigan, focuses on whether so-called card checks can be used in organizing campaigns such as those of the UAW.
"We would have expected a decision by now," Gary Golden, in-house lawyer for Dana, says of an anticipated decision from the National Labor Relations Board in Washington.
Card-check neutrality is a simple and cheap way for unions to organize workers, compared with a federally supervised election. If more than 50 percent of workers sign such cards, a company can recognize the union and begin contract negotiations.
The Dana employees in Michigan filed charges of unfair labor practices against Dana and the UAW. They contend Dana violated a pledge of neutrality by selecting the UAW to sign up employees through a card check, plaintiff Joe Montague told Automotive News.
Dana and the UAW agreed in early 2003 to use card checks to determine whether some Dana workers wanted to join the union. Workers in St. Johns, Mich., did not. Dana employees in Bristol, Va., and in Elizabethtown, Ky., agreed to join.
"They didn't ask which union we wanted," says Montague, an hourly employee at the St. Johns piston-ring plant. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Inc. helped the workers file charges.
The National Right to Work Foundation brings legal challenges around the country on behalf of employees they say were "violated by abuses of compulsory unionism."
The foundation filed charges challenging the agreement between Dana and the UAW on Aug. 15, 2003.
At the time, National Right to Work claimed in a press release that Dana caved in to Big 3 pressure to allow greater unionization at suppliers. Dana denies that.
In early 2005, the NLRB office in Detroit dismissed the charges. But National Right to Work appealed that decision in March 2005 to the full NLRB.
Patrick Semmens, a spokesman for National Right to Work in Springfield, Va., says many cases on card checks are backlogged awaiting the NLRB decision on Dana.
You may e-mail Robert Sherefkin at [email protected]