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Chemical Solvents, Inc. and Turn-to Transport, LLC and Teamsters Local Union 507, a/w International Brotherhood of Teamsters

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Thrasher, Dinsmore and Dolan recently played a role in a significant labor law decision issued by the National Labor Relations Board.  The decision,  entitled Chemical Solvents, Inc. and Turn-to Transport, LLC and Teamsters Local Union 507, a/w International Brotherhood of Teamsters,  was issued Aug. 24, 2015.  In this decision the Employers,  represented by Thomas Colaluca, of counsel to TD&D, and David M. Ondrey of our firm,  successfully defended against claims that Chemical Solvents had violated the National Labor Relations Act by unilaterally subcontracting out all of its trucking needs, without bargaining with the union before doing so, resulting in the termination of the company’s trucking department and the union jobs within that department, namely the truck drivers.  In addition,  Chemical Solvents was also absolved by the Board of a related claim by the union that the company had violated another section of the Act when the company implemented new health insurance coverage for its employees prior to any agreement by the union to do so.

An Administrative Law Judge for the NLRB had ruled in May 2012, after more than a week of testimony by company and union employees, that the company had not violated the Act by subcontracting out its trucking work and laying off the union truck drivers as a result.  This decision was appealed by the Board’s General Counsel to the National Labor Relations Board.  The Board agreed with the ALJ that the parties’ collective bargaining agreement entitled Chemical Solvents to subcontract out it’s trucking needs because the management rights clause of the collective bargaining agreement contained language entitling the company to “transfer work to any other entity.”  The Board concluded this language constituted a “clear and unmistakable waiver” of the union’s right to bargain about the decision to subcontract which amounted, in the Board’s view, to a mere “transfer” of the trucking work to another entity. This conclusion is a significant victory for the company because normally “subcontracting” is a mandatory subject of bargaining with a union.  The decision demonstrates the critical importance of a well-crafted management rights provision in a collective bargaining agreement.  Thanks to Attorney Colaluca, who had previously negotiated the bargaining agreement for the company, this collective bargaining agreement had such a provision.

Of additional interest in the decision is the Board’s reversal of the ALJ on another critical issue:  whether the company had violated the Act when it implemented new health insurance coverage for the union employees even though the union had not agreed to the new coverage.  On this issue, the Board recognized the company had indeed taken every reasonable step to bargain with the union over the new coverage and it was the latter’s failure to timely respond to the company’s proposals for new health insurance which created a situation where the company had to unilaterally choose the new health insurance coverage due to the insurance company’s deadlines for a decision.

Thrasher Dinsmore & Dolan is prepared to assist both companies and unions when negotiating collective bargaining agreements,  processing grievances, handling unfair labor practice charges, and all other labor and employment issues.