Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Employers ... Be Careful of Mixed-Guard Unions

Since the NLRB’s holding in Wells Fargo Corp., 270 NLRB 787 (1984), an employer could, upon the expiration of a contract, refuse to continue to bargain with a “mixed-guard” union representing both its security guards and other employees.  No longer. On June 9, 2016, in a case titled Loomis Armored US, Inc., 364 NLRB No. 23 (2016), the NLRB overturned more than thirty (30) years of precedent by holding that an employer cannot refuse to continue bargaining with a “mixed-guard” union where the employer has voluntarily recognized that union previously.  The holding does not apply retroactively.

Essentially, the NLRB has held that once a voluntary bargaining relationship is established with a mixed-guard union, an employer may not unilaterally withdraw recognition of the union based on mixed-guard status, and must continue to bargain. This holding turns decades old precedent on its head.  Now, employers who have recognized mixed-guard unions must continue that relationship and cannot withdraw recognition until such time as the union loses majority support among the bargaining unit members, if at all. Going forward, employers faced with signing an agreement with a mixed-guard union may wish to think twice or thrice about the implications of doing so in light of the Loomis decision.  When faced with such a prospect, employers may wish to consult with labor counsel to discuss the likely serious ramifications of any such action.

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