On the basis of Ramah Electronics’ decisions and actions connected with the performance of the International Electrical & Appliance Store Union (IEAW) and subsequent bargaining, it is possible to conclude that the company both acted lawfully and breached the regulations of National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). First of all, the dismissal of Max for the violation of his labor organization’s policy may be regarded as lawful if this violation officially presupposes such penalty according to Ramah Electronics’ rules. In general, employers have a right to establish policies in compliance with employment laws in their interest and on the basis of business needs. Thus, the long-term corporate policy of Ramah Electronics prohibits the distribution of non-company materials and any solicitation by all employees during working time and on company premises. In turn, NLRA allows solicitation or the distribution of materials related to unions in non-working areas and during non-working hours.
On the basis of NLRA, Max’s actions were lawful as he distributed leaflets with Chloe inserting them in employees’ mail slots that could not be defined as a working area and when business was closed. However, Max has violated the company’s policy that stated that only upper management executives had a right to enter the building when it was close for business. Thus, as Max was not an executive and did not have a right to enter a closed building, he was dismissed. At the same time, if the company’s management had chosen another penalty, such as a serious reprimand or a fine, employees probably would not have supported the Union’s recognition and bargaining.
Nevertheless, workers voted to be represented by the Union, and subsequent actions of President Vivian related to this situation cannot be evaluated as lawful as multiple violations of NLRA were detected. First of all, when Chloe met her and presented the authorization cards signed by the majority of Ramah’s employees, the president declined to recognize the IEAW without providing any reason. In addition, she had an intention to avoid the company’s cooperation with any union.
This position is a serious violation of NLRA basic regulation under Section 7 that states that “employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection” (National Labor Relations Board, n.d., sec. 7). The next day, President Vivian had a conversation with employees and provided knowingly fraudulent statements concerning the illegal performance of the Union. This action violated NLRA regulations as well – it is prohibited for an employer to question employees about their union-related sympathies or activities and spread misinformation to coerce or restrain them in the exercise of their rights under the Act (National Labor Relations Board, n.d.). Although the IEAW won the election, without the president’s spread of false evidence, the result would be more objective.
During bargaining sessions, it became clear that the Union and the company took two opposite positions. The latter insisted that it should have the unfettered right to replace employees with independent contractors at any time and on the basis of its sole judgment – and this practice is legal. The company’s interest is easily understandable – the business does not have to pay or withhold any taxes for independent contractors. In turn, the opposition of the Union is obvious as well – independent contractors are not protected by NLRA, their rights may be violated, and unfair labor practices may be applied by the employer in relation to them.
The expediency of employees’ strike in response to the company’s position is controversial. Although NLRA allows employees to strike, the object of a strike and its lawfulness are matters that may be highly difficult to determine. In other words, employees may protest when their labor rights are violated, however, the fact of violation could not be detected as the company just underlined its clear position. Nevertheless, under the regulations of NLRA, the union and the company should solve problems through peaceful negotiations.
On the one hand, when all employees decided to strike, the decision of the company to offer permanent employment to 80 individuals as an urgent measure was expedient. According to NLRA, “it is declared to be the policy of the United States to eliminate the causes of certain substantial obstructions to the free flow of commerce and to mitigate and eliminate these obstructions when they have occurred by encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining” (National Labor Relations Board, n.d., sec. 1). In the case of Ramah Electronics, its employees have created a challenging situation that could have a negative impact on commerce and customers’ satisfaction.
In the other hand, the choice of 40 employees who had been less active during the strike violated NLRA regulations, according to which employees should not be threatened or punished for their support to the union (National Labor Relations Board, n.d.). However, the acceptance of all applications for reinstatement would lead to the creation of unnecessary workplaces or the unfair dismissal of individuals who were proposed permanent employment. In addition, the refusal of all applications from former employees would result in legal procedures initiated on the basis of labor rights violation.
In general, a collective bargaining agreement executed by the IEAW and Ramah Electronics may be evaluated as comprehensive, just, and reasonable. It balances between the company’s intention to establish its rules and employees’ protection against discrimination. However, the company’s subsequent inappropriate actions directly violated this agreement. The initiation of random drug testing without people’s consent on the basis of on-the-job accidents that are not related to them is illegal and discriminating. In order to make their decision lawful, Ramah Electronics should initially initiate the development and implementation of a drug-free workplace policy with comprehensive written regulations. In this case, if this policy presupposes mandatory drug testing and employees agree with it, this practice may be regarded as legal.
Moreover, according to the agreement, all permanent employees should be entitled to three weeks of paid vacation. In this case, the company’s announcement that the amount of vacation will be reduced due to financial struggles violates the agreement. On the other hand, tough economic times will inevitably affect the company and lead either to changes in labor conditions or employment downsizing to optimize human resources. Thus, in this situation, the company may initiate the negotiations on the basis of agreement, to increase the hourly wage rate. Moreover, the company should issue an updated well-elaborated policy where new regulations related to paid vacation and hourly wage rates will be written to receive employees’ informed consent.
National Labor Relations Board. (n.d.). National Labor Relations Act. National Labor Relations Board.