Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Pizza shop closure is a teachable lesson on union avoidance

We are truly heartbroken to announce that we've made the difficult decision to permanently close both Knead Slice Shop and Knead Market effective immediately (August 23, 2022), regardless of the outcome or the occurrence of the requested union election.

We respect the right of workers to organize under the National Labor Relations Act or other appropriate laws. We hope our workers will recognize our related right as an employer, especially a small employer, during these extremely difficult operational times, to close our entire business operation.

We continue to wish our employees well. 

That's what a pizza shop posted to its Instagram last week, announcing its decision to shutter all of its operations, permanently.

According to The Berg, the business's owners reached their decision a mere four days after a group of employees filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to be represented by Unite Here Local 274. Also now pending is an unfair labor practice charge challenging the closure decision as discriminatory and as retaliation for the employees' protected right to unionize.

That ULP charge is doomed to fail.

Under long established precedent, an employer is free to shutter its entire operation for any reason, even anti-union animus, retaliation, or vindictiveness. Indeed, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, it would be "startling" if an employer chose to put itself completely out of business instead of dealing with a union: "[W]hen an employer closes his entire business, even if the liquidation is motivated by vindictiveness toward the union, such action is not an unfair labor practice."

Knead Pizza closed all of its operations. Whether motivated by anti-union animus or not, it's free to do so. I'm not suggesting that this is the correct solution for your business if facing a union organizing drive, but it's at least a solution that is relatively free and clear of legal risk, provided you're willing to flush your business instead of dealing with a labor union.