Does an agreement stipulating that an employer will remain neutral and give access to employee information in exchange for a union’s support of an employer-friendly ballot initiative, constitute a “thing of value” in violation § 302 of the Labor-Management Relations Act; or, must a thing of value be monetary for purposes of § 302?
In 2004, UNITE HERE Local 355 (“Local 355”) entered into an agreement with Hollywood Greyhound Track, Inc. (“Mardi Gras”), the employer of Martin Mulhall. Mardi Gras agreed to help Local 355 unionize Mardi Gras’s employees by remaining neutral in the process and giving Local 355 access to its facilities and employee information. If the unionization effort was successful, Mardi Gras would recognize Local 355 as the exclusive bargaining agent for its employees. In exchange, Local 355 promised to support a Florida ballot initiative that would allow casinos to operate slot machines in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. Mulhall opposed the unionization effort and sought to block the agreement under § 302 of the Labor-Management Relations Act. Mulhall argues that under § 302 Mardi Gras’s promises are “things of value” and thus constitute an illegal payment from an employer to a union. Local 355 disagrees and contends that cooperative employer-union agreements have long been considered lawful. The Eleventh Circuit held that an employer’s promises in union-organizing agreements may constitute “things of value,” implicating § 302. The Supreme Court’s decision will impact the future of cooperative employer-union agreements and the way that employees and unions try to unionize.
Whether an employer and union may violate § 302 of the Labor-Management Relations Act by entering into an agreement under which the employer promises to remain neutral to union organizing, grants union representatives access to the employer’s property and employers in exchange for the union’s promise to forego its right to picket, boycott, or otherwise pressure the employer's business?
- Benjamin Sachs, The Court and the Future of Unions: Private Sector Edition, On Labor, Aug. 9, 2013.
- Bruce Vail, Supreme Court Scrutiny of ‘Neutrality’ Pacts Could Be Another Blow to Unions, In These Times, Jun. 27, 2013.