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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Union gets Third Bite at Alabama Shipbuilder because of Unfair Labor Practices during Campaign

By: Tommy Eden, Attorney

The Local 441 of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association is getting a third bite at the apple to enlist workers at Austal USA's Mobile River shipyard in an NLRB conducted election late July. Two previous, unsuccessful NLRB conducted elections were vacated by the NLRB who found that the company engaged in unfair labor practices with respect to the organizing effort.

For details of misconduct found, see Board decision at Austal USA 356 NLRB No. 65 or the full newspaper story out to Mobile.

Common Sense Counsel: Taking the following 7 steps can help your company avoid be an easy target for a slick talking union organizer: 1) let your employees know how you feel about a union in your employee handbook; 2) don't be afraid to send a letter home to employees reiterating your position; 3) check your no solicitation, no distribution policies for legal compliance and property signage; 4) train your supervisor on appropriate and legal union avoidance steps (TIPS) within the law; 5) make sure your managers and supervisors are being good coaches by showing appreciation for the hard work of employees, involving them in decisions and helping to promote their career path; 6) ask your employees what you can do better with regards to safety, working conditions, communication etc – then do it.; and 7) take affirmative steps to reduce the risk of harassment, favoritism, retaliation and anything else that would hinder a respectful working environment.

Tommy Eden is a resident of Auburn, an attorney with the local office of Capell & Howard, P.C. and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at or 334-501-1540.