Washington, DC (May 20, 2021) – Region 6 of the National Labor Relations Board has approved a settlement resolving unfair labor practice charges filed against United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 by a worker despite the worker’s objections to the settlement’s adequacy.
With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, West Virginia-based Kroger employee Shelby Krocker filed unfair labor practice charges against UFCW Local 400 alleging primarily that the union illegally coerced employees into signing dues checkoff authorization forms that allowed union dues to be deducted dues from their paychecks. The dues forms the Kroger employees signed prominently stated that they “MUST BE SIGNED.” Employees cannot legally be required to sign dues checkoff authorizations, which usually contain severe restrictions on an employee’s ability to stop dues deductions.
NLRB Region 6 initially dismissed Krocker’s charge. Foundation attorneys appealed for her to then NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb, who sustained the charge and ordered the Region to issue a complaint against UFCW Local 400 for its violations. Robb found that UFCW officials had violated the law in multiple ways, some beyond what was in Krocker’s original charge, including failing to allow employees to end dues deductions upon expiration of a contract. The Region issued a complaint as Robb directed, but an Administrative Law Judge determined that UFCW Local 400 did not violate the Act. Krocker and Counsel for the General Counsel then filed exceptions to the ALJ’s flawed decision, taking the case to the NLRB.
While the case was pending with the Board, President Biden removed General Counsel Robb with more than ten months remaining in his Senate-confirmed four year term. This was the first time in the NLRB’s 74-year history that a President fired a General Counsel whose statutory term had not yet expired. Biden then installed career NLRB bureaucrat Peter Ohr as Acting General Counsel, who since has reversed many of Robb’s actions that defended workers from union boss abuses, including Robb’s exceptions in this case.
Instead of allowing the fully-briefed exceptions to be decided by the Board, under Ohr NLRB Region 6 in Pittsburgh engaged in belated negotiations with the union and Ohr jointly moved with union lawyers to send the case to the Region. The imposed settlement shields the union from being forced to provide a full remedy to all affected workers. Krocker’s Foundation-provided attorneys urged the Board to deny the joint motion. They argued that the joint motion and the proposed inadequate settlement were “bare political attempts to strip the Board of its ability to hear the important issues raised in this case” and violated the Board’s own rules. Further, their response to the joint motion asserted that “the proposed agreement does not fully remedy the unfair labor practices alleged in the Complaint and as shown by the stipulated factual record,” and that any settlement should provide relief to all employees who signed the unlawful checkoffs.
Ignoring Krocker’s arguments, the NLRB granted Ohr’s and the union’s motion to remand, allowing Ohr and UFCW Local 400 to settle Krocker’s case over her objections, and allowing the Administrative Law Judge’s flawed decision to stand.
“Thanks to President Biden’s unprecedented, partisan attack on the NLRB’s independence by removing General Counsel Robb and replacing him with Peter Ohr, along with NLRB members who were unwilling to go to bat for individual worker rights, union bosses have once again been able to escape legal accountability for their actions,” said National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “UFCW bosses intentionally misled workers into thinking they were required to pay union dues, even though West Virginia is a Right to Work state. Thanks to union bosses’ new ally in the General Counsel’s office and the compliant board, other workers whose rights were violated like Krocker’s are receiving no remedy.”
“UFCW bosses are already reaping the rewards for supporting Joe Biden’s campaign, and workers like Shelby Krocker and her fellow employees are paying the price,” Mix added.
If you have questions about whether union officials are violating your rights, contact the Foundation for free help. You can also support our cause and help those suffering from Forced Unionism by donating.