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Union "Salts" in Your Workplace - Or Not?

  • October 1, 2000

The right of union infiltrators to work in your place of business has been upheld by the National Labor Relations Board and the courts. "Salts" are individuals who work for the union and apply for employment at your place of business with the intent to organize your employees. According to the Labor Board and the United States Supreme Court, it is illegal (an unfair labor practice) for you to refuse to hire or to terminate a "salt" simply because he or she works for the union. This right has been highly publicized and debated among labor and management representatives.

Despite these rulings, the news for employers is not all bad. Much less publicity has been given to the situations where employers have successfully defeated unfair labor practice claims by "salts". In Little Rock Electrical Contractors, Inc., 327 NLRB No. 166 (1999), a case decided by the National Labor Relations Board, the employer did not hire two applicants who were union business agents. The employer relied on its written rule which prohibited employees at the construction project from working simultaneously for another employer. Since the applicants were full-time employees of the union when they applied, their employment would have violated the employer's rule. The Labor Board found the employer's policy, rather than the individuals' union business agent status, was the reason they were not hired, and the unfair labor practice charges had been properly dismissed.

To defeat an unfair labor practice charge using this defense, an employer must have a lawfully drafted rule or policy prohibiting dual employment and must uniformly enforce it. This means the rule or policy must serve a legitimate business purpose and be applied to all applicants equally, regardless of union sentiments.

©2000 Jackson Lewis P.C. This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between Jackson Lewis and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material. This material may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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