Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Good Catch: NLRB footnote may signal things to come

One of the three components of the delusionally-dubbed Employee Free Choice Act (after card check and binding arbitration) is monetary fines.  Given that EFCA is currently stalled in Congress, there is well-founded speculation that, with a union-controlled National Labor Relations Board, the various components of EFCA could be pushed through by using the NLRB's rule-making authority.

Labor Relations Today, a cool new blog by some attorneys, has some interesting insight on one recent case that may be an indicator of where the NLRB may be heading with monetary penalties:
In San Juan Teachers Assn., 355 NLRB No. 28 (Apr. 30, 2010), without much discussion the Board affirmed the Administrative Law Judge’s finding that the employer violated Sections 8(a)(1) and (5) of the National Labor Relations Act by unilaterally reducing the hours of two unit employees. Regarding the remedy, the Board states in footnote 1:
In his exceptions and supporting brief, the General Counsel seeks compound interest computed on a quarterly basis for any backpay or other monetary award. Having duly considered the matter, we are not prepared at this time to deviate from our current practice of assessing simple interest. See, e.g., Cardi Corp., 353 NLRB No. 97, slip op. at 1 fn. 2 (2009); Rogers Corp., 344 NLRB 504, 504 (2005). 
For years, General Counsel Ronald Meisburg has sought to add compound interest as a routine remedy available to the Board. In General Counsel Memorandum GC 07-07 (May 2, 2007), Meisburg declared simple interest “inadequate” as a “make whole” remedy, and directed all Regional Offices as follows:
…Regions should begin seeking quarterly compound interest in all future unfair labor practice cases where a monetary award is available.[] Regions should plead this remedy in their complaints and should include in their briefs to administrative law judges a model brief section containing standard arguments in support of this new position.
Even before this GC Memo, prior General Counsels had sought compound interest in Board cases. Each time, however, the Board has similarly declined to “deviate” from the practice of assessing simple interest.

While you can read the rest here, it is interesting to note that the issue of compound interest, while not a fine per se (as envisioned under EFCA), could substantially increase employer penalties for back pay and other forms of monetary awards.

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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