Ric Brown asked (and I believe others similarly concurred) that I follow-up by providing my understanding of the statute governing negotiations, in particular the claim and concern that the administration would or could impose a contract on the union in the event that the MOU is not ratified by its membership.
Section 8 (a) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) defines employer unfair labor practices (ULP). Five types of conduct are made illegal. Section 8(a)(5) prohibits the employer from refusing to recognize and bargain in good faith with a union that is the exclusive representative of employees. ULP in this section also include failures to supply information and unilateral changes (citations at the bottom).
I understand that whether or not a contract may be imposed depends on what the union and admin agreed to, upon signing of the MOU by both parties. For management to LEGALLY IMPOSE a contract on the union if the MOU is not ratified, management would have to, in advance, declare to the following effect: this is our last, best offer; if your membership votes “no” to the MOU, then management will impose a contrat as specified [specification].
I further understand that the union negotiating team does not have to agree to management’s condition of non-ratification, but it would have the responsibility of informing its membership of management’s position on non-ratification.
For management to impose a contract without advanced notification leaves the admin highly vulnerable to an unfair labor practice charge by the union; a violation of NLRA Section 8(a)(5), Employer refusal to bargain in good faith with union representatives.
ULP Section 8(a)(5)
(a) Bad-faith bargaining. Reichhold Chemicals, 288 NLRB 69 (1988). “. . . we intend to adhere to the general proposition that the content of bargaining proposals will, in certain circumstances, be evidence of an intent to frustrate the collective-bargaining process.”
(b) Unilateral changes. NLRB v. Katz, 369 U.S. 736 (1962). Unilateral change prior to good-faith impasse is ordinarily unlawful.
Section 8 (b) of the Act defines union unfair labor practices