Electromation V National Labor Relations Board Case Study Examples

Published: 2021-06-22 00:32:00
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Category: Workplace, Employee, Management, Criminal Justice, Law, Crime, Company

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In Electromation, the Supreme Court ruled that any attempt in the part of an employer to form a committee for the purpose of discussing labor issues may be construed as a violation of the Taft Hartley Act prohibiting the organization of labor groups by the employer.
Electromation v. National Labor Relations Board
Intentional Violation of the Taft Hartley Act
The Supreme Court found Electromation guilty of violation of labor law under Section 2(5) of the Taft Hartley Act. The Act prohibits an employer from forming any group or committee with his employees for the purpose of dealing with any job-related matters concerning their work conditions or wages.
Electromation was having financial problems and to address this issue, the company made a number of decisions that impacted its employees. When the employees expressed displeasure with these changes, John Howard, the president of the company, decided to meet with his company’s employees to hear their concerns.
The first meeting was between the president of the company and a number of select employees. The employer was involved in the selection of the employees for that meeting. It is not clear whether this small group of employees were representing all other employees. At the meeting a number of issues were indentified which needed further consideration. The president suggested that a number of employee committees be formed for the purpose of finding solutions to the problems.
Up to this point the facts appear to be that John Howard’s intent in forming the committees was to hear the concerns of his employees. That is, John Howard intentionally formed committees with his employees with the intent of dealing with labor related issues.
But there is another element to Section 2(5) of the Act which states that an employer may not form any groups or committees with the intent of preventing them from forming their own labor groups, and that "willful violation exists under the Act where the evidence shows either an intentional violation of the Act or plain indifference to its requirements." The court interpreted the forming of committees as an act showing plain indifference to the requirements of the Act. The law also interprets that action as an intentional violation of the law.
Therefore, the employer is guilty of intentional violation of the law.
Motivation for Employer to Deal Directly with Employees Rather than a Union
Employers like to meet directly with their employees because it helps build trust. Meeting directly with employees also helps management discover any employee concerns that warrant immediate attention, and the employees can alert their employers about company related issues that need instant attention for the smooth running of operations. Often the issue may appear too insignificant to call for the intervention of the labor union, but if they are not given prompt attention they may become serious enough. An employer can benefit from timely communication of these types of issues.
Employer-employee meetings can also strengthen employee relations. The employer-employee relationship is one of mutual dependency and the stronger the bond is between them the stronger the company is. Employees tend to view meetings with employers as a sign of appreciation of their contribution to the company; employees value their jobs and they want to in turn be valued by their employer. An employer who deals directly with his employees, and not through the buffer of the labor union has a higher chance of having employees who place trust on the employer’s day-to-day decisions and give the employer the benefit of the doubt when something goes wrong.
Regular meetings between employer and employee can also serve as an early-warning system that something is going wrong and problems can be solved before they balloon out of proportion. The main issue with labor unions is that they often tend to get involved too late to solve a problem in a way to satisfy both parties. Also, because communication is through a third party it takes longer to reach a solution. Thus, dealing directly with employees rather than through a labor union can save the company a considerable amount of money.
The Employer on “Both Sides of the Bargaining Table”
When an employer occupies both sides of the bargaining table the employee is left is in the middle getting squeezed and with no bargaining power.
In Electromation, the employer unilaterally decided how many committees should be formed, how many people could serve in each committee, and even though one of the main concerns aired by the employees when they first met with management was the lowering of their wages, none of the committees formed by the company were meant to address that issue; suggesting that either the employees were not free to select the topic of their greatest concern, or that the company dominated the employees.
Furthermore, the company appointed management representatives to sit, control, and coordinate all the activities in the committees, whereas it is not clear whether the employees selected to sit in the committees were either free to present their own agenda, or had any mandate to represent all other employees. It is clear that the balance of power was skewed in favor of management, because a representative of the company could make a proposal that could bind all employees, whereas the collective voice of the employees would not be heard.
It is difficult to see how employees in this situation could enjoy the same bargaining power as the employer. Furthermore, managers bring a lot of experience to the bargaining table, whereas the average employee has very little understanding of the principles of, and duties, of bargaining. For example, an employee might pour a lot of energy into an issue that he deems important but then allow himself to be influenced on issues that hold little importance for him, but that might have great impact on all other employees.
Thus, whether all this does not necessarily mean that employees must bring the labor union into the bargaining table, it is clear that allowing the employer to sit on both sides of the bargaining table can undermine an employee’s bargaining power.

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