Labor Board Rejects Biden Appointee’s Attempt to Scuttle Case Against Union

Texas nurse Marissa Zamora challenges concealment of secret union-employer deal which stifles decertification

Marissa Zamora
Sunnier outlook:  With Foundation legal aid, Texas nurse Marissa Zamora shut down NLRB “Acting” General Counsel Ohr’s attempt to block her case.

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently rejected a move by NLRB Acting General Counsel Peter Ohr to prematurely end Texas nurse Marissa Zamora’s case before the Board could rule. The case challenges National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) union officials’ refusal to disclose a secret agreement they signed with the parent company of her hospital that limits Zamora’s ability to remove the union from her workplace.

Ohr is a career NLRB bureaucrat, who was installed as General Counsel by President Biden this January after Biden made the unprecedented move of removing Trump-appointed NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb before his Senate-confirmed four-year term expired. Ohr filed a motion in February seeking unilaterally to send Zamora’s complaint back to the NLRB’s Fort Worth regional office to be dismissed — after Zamora’s case had already been fully briefed at the full Board in Washington.

Zamora is represented for free by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, who in March opposed Ohr’s attempted maneuver. Their brief argued that snuffing the case out now would jeopardize the NLRB’s power to decide cases involving violations of federal labor law, and also contended that Ohr lacked any authority to make his motion because of Biden’s illegal ouster of Robb.

In a May decision, the NLRB agreed with Zamora’s Foundation staff attorneys that the case should continue, observing that the matter “has been fully litigated, and the controversy at issue, which remains active, is ripe for Board adjudication.”

The case began when Zamora demanded a copy of the secret so-called “neutrality agreement.” Such agreements are deals between union officials and employers — usually without the knowledge of employees in a workplace — that seek to assist the union in gaining monopoly bargaining powers over rank-and-file workers. 

NNOC Agents Shrouded, Lied About Deal Which Stymied Info about Decertification

“The Board correctly rejected  Peter Ohr’s attempt to scuttle this case so he could let union officials off scot-free despite their secret backroom deal to undermine the rights of nurses like Marissa Zamora who are subjected to unwanted union representation,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said about the decision to let the case move forward. 

These controversial top-down organizing deals frequently contain provisions that require employers to silence opposition to unionization, hand over workers’ personal information for coercive “card check” drives that bypass the protections of a secret-ballot election, provide union organizers with preferential access to the workplace and even ensure employers will help stifle workers’ efforts to decertify, i.e. remove, the union.

In Zamora’s case, she began circulating fliers and other materials in June 2018 to educate her coworkers on how they could obtain a vote to decertify the union. Legal documents she filed in her case explain that union agents “repeatedly ripp[ed] down her fliers” and that hospital officials referenced a secret agreement with the union when they denied “her access to post material on protected bulletin boards, where her material would be shielded from vandalism.”

Zamora subsequently asked both NNOC and hospital officials to show her any “neutrality agreement” that might have triggered those efforts to block her and her coworkers’ rights. All her requests were denied, and NNOC even denied that such an agreement exists. This was despite statements by hospital agents to her that indicated a “neutrality agreement” was indeed in effect. 

Trump-Appointed NLRB GC Robb Backed Nurse’s Case Until Unprecedented Firing

Zamora filed federal unfair labor practice charges at the NLRB, challenging NNOC bosses’ refusal to disclose the secret agreement. Then-NLRB General Counsel Robb issued a complaint supporting the claims in Zamora’s charges. 

Nevertheless, a Labor Board Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) dismissed the complaint Robb issued, even revoking subpoenas that would have compelled NNOC union bosses to reveal the covert deal. 

Zamora challenged the ALJ’s dismissal, filing exceptions at the full Board in Washington. Briefs she filed supporting those exceptions pointed out that, during a two-day trial, it came out that the “neutrality agreement” existed, but it was a closely guarded secret between the hospital and union officials “to be kept strictly confidential from employees and all third parties.” Robb also submitted exceptions buttressing Zamora’s exceptions.

Robb’s pro-employee decisions preceded Ohr’s controversial installation by Biden in January, and Ohr’s subsequent attempt to remand or dismiss the case, which the NLRB has now rejected.

“The Board should now promptly rule for Ms. Zamora on the merits of the case so union bosses cannot keep secret pacts with employers to the detriment of rank-and-file employees’ protected rights,” Mix said.

This article was originally published in the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly newsletter, Foundation Action.

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