Dayton Hudson Department Store Company Versus United Automobile Workers (Uaw) and National Labor Relations Board (Nlrb)

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Dayton Hudson Department Store Company versus United Automobile Workers (UAW) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Jamila N. Williams
Webster University

Abstract

In 1990, some employees at Hudson's Department Store at the Westland Mall in Westland, Michigan, began an effort to organize and bring in the UAW. On May 11, 1990, an authorized ballot of eligible workers took place; 274 votes were cast for the union and 179 against. Hudson immediately filed timely objections with the NLRB, contending that the outcome of the election was tainted by a letter sent to all employees on May 8, 1990, three days before the election. The NLRB overruled Hudson's objections and certified the UAW as the exclusive representative of the bargaining unit. Hudson refused to negotiate with the UAW. The UAW subsequently alleged Hudson’s Department Store with violating unfair labor practice charge Section 8(a) (5) and (1) of the NLRA. Hudson then moved to reopen the record on allegations of newly discovered evidence that forged authorization cards were used, prior to the election, to generate additional support for the union. Hudson petitioned to Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Ladwig for review after the Board's refusal to reopen the record. At this hearing, Hudson attempted to establish its forged cards allegations primarily through the testimony of John Madgwick, a former UAW supporter. At the conclusion of the hearing, ALJ Ladwig reaffirmed the NLRB's order to bargain.

Dayton Hudson Department Store Company versus United Automobile Workers (UAW) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) In an effort to build and designate support for a union, an employee must sign a legally binding document known as an authorization card. Collecting singed authorization cards is a crucial part of the union organizing process because the cards demonstrate the interest in unionization to three important players: union organizers, the employer, and if necessary the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) (Budd, 2010, p.189). If the union gets cards signed by over 50% of the employees, it may request of the employer to recognize the union as the bargaining agent of its employees. Once the employer recognizes the union’s majority status, then a contract or a collective bargaining agreement must be negotiated with the union.

Employers may use different pro- company campaign tactics to try to influence individual voting decisions such as sending letters, emails, and holding captive audience meetings. During a captive audience meeting, employees are required to attend the group meeting where management has a one-way conversation with them about the evils of unionism. These meetings occur during working hours because the employer is then best able to exert its economic authority over employees and to play on fears of job loss if employees vote for the union (Secunda, 2010). Such meetings are legal as long as they are not within 24 hours of the election.

Employer campaigning is more refined, widespread, and expensive than union campaigning. Unions use different tactics to establish personal relationships with the employees such as making house calls, holding rallies and small group meetings, and distributing flyers and letters in the mail.

It is illegal for an employer or a union to threaten or coerce any employee to sign a union authorization card, or to distort the purpose of the card. For example, it is unlawful for employers to use union avoidance techniques such as using threats, lies, promises, and firings. Marty Levitt, a former union buster, admitted to using these fear and divide-and-conquer techniques to prevent unions from winning representation elections (Levitt, 1993, pp.2-4). There is also union propaganda that employees should watch out for. Examples include making false statements, unfounded allegations against the employer, and making threats to employees. If union threats or harassments distort employee free choice, the election...
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