Last Friday, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) ruled that unions cannot force workers who object to being full union members to pay for lobbying activities.

Under the United States Supreme Court’s 1988 Communications Workers of America v. Beck decision, unions can't use funds collected from nonmember employees covered by union-security arrangements for any activities “not germane to a union’s core representational duties of collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment.” The improper use of nonmembers' fees violates unions' duty of fair representation under this so-called “Beck” framework. Worker Jeanette Geary (“Geary”), who worked at a hospital in Rhode Island, invoked her Beck rights to decline paying fees covering her union’s, United Nurses and Allied Professionals’, political work. Geary had filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB in late 2009 seeking an auditor’s verification that the union wasn’t putting her fees toward political ends.

Last Friday, farmworkers walked off the job in Shafter, California protesting a drop in the price per bin offered by The Wonderful Company (“Wonderful”). The protesting employees, who are employed through a farm labor contractor, are protesting a drop in the price per bin from $53 per bin to $48 per bin. In response, Wonderful stated that the price reduction is due to the seasonal transition from harvesting clementines to mandarins. In an email response provided to The Bakersfield Californian on Friday, Wonderful spokesperson Mark Carmel stated, "This season, due to the smaller size of the clementines, we paid a premium for harvesting and we’re back to paying regular wages for mandarins. We are confident we will quickly resolve this matter."

Last Friday, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) ruled that employers are permitted to challenge whether unions still have majority support from the bargaining units they seek to represent during the time period when a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) is agreed to and the day it actually goes into effect.

After five years of waiting, workers at Gerawan Farming who voted to get rid of the United Farm Workers (“UFW”) as their union may finally get to have their ballots counted in what had been a highly disputed election. Yesterday, the California Supreme Court denied a request from the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (“ALRB”) to review a lower court’s ruling that found fault with the ALRB’s decision to impound the ballots.

Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit granted the National Labor Relations Board’s (“NLRB”) request to pause an appeal on the controversial Purple Communications, Inc. ruling. As we previously reported here, Purple Communications, Inc. (“Purple”), a video provider for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, appealed a 2014 NLRB ruling that allows employees to send union messages over work email to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The NLRB’s 2014 ruling held that employees who already have access to their employer’s email system are permitted to use the email system for protected union-related activities because email is the premier platform for “worker speech” in the modern workplace.

In a press release issued July 31, 2018, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced that they had formalized a partnership aimed to “protect U.S. workers from discrimination and combat visa abuse.” You can read the press release here. The partnership will allow for increased collaboration between the two Departments, including streamlining the process for sharing information regarding work visas. The press release touts a program launched by the DOJ Civil Rights Division called the “Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative” under which the DOJ launched dozens of investigations, filed a lawsuit, and reached settlement with some employers—including collecting $285,000.00 in back pay for affected U.S. Workers.

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