Members of UAW Local 2828 will be waiting a little longer to negotiate a first contract in Evansville, Ind. A three-member panel of The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled Tuesday in “PPG Industries v. the United Auto Workers” (UAW) finding for PPG. The NLRB ordered a new election because third party threats were so aggravated as to “create a general atmosphere of fear or reprisal” and that these threats were recurring and pervasive as well as being applicable to the entirety of the body.
PPG filed objections to a certification election held on June 28, 2006, and to a hearing officers’ report subsequent to that election. The UAW won the election 186-158 with 9 challenged ballots.
Under NLRB precedent, the third party standard for determining if an election should be overturned is threatening behavior that makes a free choice in an election impossible through a general atmosphere of fear or reprisal.
The company charged several instances of union supporters threatening other employees with bodily harm and damage to their property if they crossed picket lines. In total, there were about 30 employees who had either been threatened or learned of the threats.
The hearing officer to the original complaints by the company, determined that the employees doing the threatening were not agents of the union, but were third party actors. He deemed that these statements did not create a general atmosphere of fear or reprisal, as is the NLRB’s standard for determining whether third party threats are sufficient enough to order a new election.
While the panel did not conclude the hearing officer erred in treating these union supporters as third parties and not agents of the union – several were members of the “voluntary organizing committee” – but did find the he had come to an incorrect decision.
In today’s decision, the panel quotes one employee who stated he felt sorry for anyone who would cross a picket line because they would be subject to having their windshield broken out, tires slashed, and harm of a physical nature. Another person was quoted positing that a third employee ‘looked like the type’ who would cross a picket line and would have her tires slashed.
A second, secret ballot election, will be supervised and directed by the Regional Director of the NLRB
There were several other objections which were obviated by this determination, specifically whether or not the employees making threats should be considered agents of the union or third parties to the election. Because the third party standard is less stringent, having satisfied this standard, the panel saw no need to decide if the employees making threats should be considered agents.
According to the Courier & Press, the workers at this plant had narrowly defeated organizing a union in the mid-1990’s.
NLRB Decision: PPG Industries, Inc. and International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, UAW. Case 25-RC-10347 URL: http://www.nlrb.gov/shared_files/Board%20Decisions/350/V35025.pdf
UAW “Solidarity” URL: http://www.uaw.org/solidarity/07/0607/uf06.php
Bill Medley, “Close Vote Predicted for PPG” URL: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2006/Jun/28/close-vote-predicted-for-ppg/