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6/23/2005

Steelworkers Laud Judge’s Ruling Confirming Right Of Investment Firms To Enter Into Neutrality Agreements With Unions

Source: Steelworkers (USWA)

Agreement allowing card check neutrality elections for union representation does not violate the law

The United Steelworkers of America (USW) today declared victory in a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) case which began with the filing of an unfair labor practice charge by individuals represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. Following the filing of a complaint by the NLRB's General Counsel against the Heartland Industrial Partners and the USW, Administrative Law Judge Raymond P. Green issued a decision recommending that the full NLRB dismiss the complaint in its entirety.

The complaint had charged that Heartland's agreement with the USW and its requirements of its subsidiary Trimas to enter into a similar one violated Section 8 (e) of the National Labor Relations Act that prohibits companies from agreeing not to do business with another person or employer.

"This decision is a monumental victory for both workers desiring the benefits of collective bargaining representation and for employers willing to partner cooperatively to meet the challenges of the of the international marketplace," said USW president Leo W. Gerard.

"There is nothing in the law that requires an employer to mount an anti-union campaign," Judge Green wrote.

In June 2002, Heartland acquired a Bloomfield Hill, Michigan engineered products manufacturer named Trimas. A year later, Heartland required Trimas to enter into an agreement with the union similar to the one Heartland had made with the USW in 2000. The agreement allows the union to make a request to distribute information and meet with employees to discuss the benefits of union representation. The company agrees to furnish the union the names and addresses of the employees and grant the union recognition as the bargaining representative if a majority choose the union in a card check election.

The judge ruled that the agreement relates to Heartland's acquisition of other business entities and these type of single event transactions do not constitute "doing business" with the meaning
of Section 8 (e) of the Act. Judge Green also ruled that nothing in the agreement restricts Heartland from making any transaction it chooses to make. The evidence presented shows that the terms of the agreement did not play any role in Heartland's decision to acquire a business enterprise or that its contents even entered into the negotiations for a sale.

In this case, the Charging Parties' counsel made the contention often made by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation that a neutrality agreement is an example of top down organizing, which occurs when an employer supports a union during the selection of union representation by its employees. The decision here again refutes the foundation's claim that companies seek recognition of unwanted unions. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, whose membership and funding remain a closely guarded secret, has filed a number of objections to the election processes nationwide.

The Heartland Industrial Partners is a limited partnership located in Greenwich, Connecticut that aggregates capital and seeks to purchase controlling interests primarily in older industrial enterprises located in the Midwest. David Stockman, a former Budget Director in the Reagan Administration, established Heartland in 1999.

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