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Mercedes Plant Union Possible with National Labor Relations Board Ruling

— December 5, 2014

National Labor Relations Board - Mercedes Plant UnionThis week, the National Labor Relations Board “upheld a ruling that Mercedes violated federal labor laws by stopping United Auto Workers union supporters from handing out literature inside its Alabama plant”, as reported by the Associated Press.  While laborers at this Mercedes plant – the largest in the United States – are not organized, the Mercedes parent company, Daimler, has allowed unionization at other plants around the country, and a Mercedes plant union seems likely with this NLRB decision.

As a result of the NLRB ruling, the car company must change its employee manual to allow workers to discuss union issues at the plant “during non-work times,” and use signs to indicate it would not interfere with a Mercedes plant union.

Here’s an excerpt of the NLRB ruling, illustrating some of the requirements with which Mercedes must comply:

1. Insert the following as paragraphs 2(a) and (b) and reletter the subsequent paragraphs accordingly.

“(a) Rescind the rule in its employee handbook that prohibits solicitation of employees not on working time by other employees not on working time in working areas.
“(b) Furnish employees with an insert for the current employee handbook that (1) advises that the unlawful provision has been rescinded, or (2) provides a lawfully worded provision on adhesive backing that will cover the unlawful provision; or publish and distribute to employees revised employee handbooks that (1) do not contain the unlawful provision, or (2) provide a lawfully worded provision.”

2. Substitute the following for paragraph 2(c).

“(c) Within 21 days after service by the Region, file with the Regional Director for Region 10 a sworn certification of a responsible official on a form provided by the Region attesting to the steps that the Respondent has taken to comply.”

As some unionization advocates there reported being harassed for speaking out for organizing and passing out pro-union literature, a statement by plant president and CEO Jason Hoff claiming the dispute “has nothing really to do with being against or for the UAW or any other union” loses a bit of weight.  Last week, the plant’s spokesperson indicated “the NLRB panel had agreed with the previous decision to throw out other worker complaints that they had been threatened or harassed for supporting the union.” (AP)

The NLRB reminds us in the decision that all Americans enjoy the right to:

  • “Form, join, or assist a union
  • Choose representatives to bargain with us on your behalf
  • Act together with other employees for your benefit and protection
  • Choose not to engage in any of these protected activities.”

Hoff also said, “We clearly feel there are certain places in the plant that are work places, and not places where we would want materials like that being distributed, regardless of whether that’s for or against the union”.  The veracity of the above statement is yet to be determined, but it does seem a bit convenient, given the recent NLRB ruling about potential for the Mercedes plant union.

For the full text of the NLRB ruling about the Mercedes plant union, click here.

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