NLRB makes it easier for employers to change labor contracts without union permission

In a win for employers, the board said in a case called M.V. Transportation that even if the underlying contract doesn’t explicitly allow a change and the union objects to it, the employer may still adopt it.

The board had previously said that an employer had to have “clear and unmistakable” permission in a union contract to make a particular change. In Tuesday’s ruling, the board voted 3-1 along party lines that changes could be allowed over a union’s objection if they could reasonably infer as allowable under the “plain terms” of the contract.

“[T]he Board will examine the plain language of the parties’ collective-bargaining agreement to determine whether the change made by the employer was within the compass or scope of contractual language granting the employer the right to act unilaterally,” the NLRB said. “If it was, the Board will honor the plain terms of the parties’ agreement and the employer will not have violated the Act by making the change without bargaining.”


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