NLRB Ruled Employer's Actions During Union Campaign Unlawful

August 18, 2005 ( - Though divided on the issue, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that an employer's comment that the company was actively seeking to improve health insurance benefits was an unlawful promise of benefits during a union campaign.

BNA reports that NLRB Chairman Robert Battista and member Wilma Liebman believed the E.L.C. Electric manager’s comment prior to an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) election could have been interpreted as a promise of benefits in lieu of rejection of the union.   Member Peter Schaumber dissented, saying the comment was a spontaneous response to an employee’s question.

Also at issue were pay raises given to two employees seemingly without cause during the election period.   All three board members agreed that the raises were unlawful.

NLRB Administrative Law Judge Ira Sandron said the manager’s comment about improving benefits did not constitute a promise and so was permissible.   But, since the company could not prove it had a policy of giving pay raises to individuals enrolled in apprenticeship programs or provide documentation of having done so in the past, Sandron said the raises represented an unlawful attempt to influence the workers’ vote in the upcoming election, BNA reports.

Sandron cited other unlawful practices the company had committed, such as barring employees from discussing the union on company time.

The IBEW lost the election on September 26, 2002.   The NLRB has ordered a new election to be scheduled.