Wednesday, August 30, 2023

NLRB opens the tap for a union election at Creature Comforts Brewing Company … but will it matter?

It took more than seven months, but the NLRB has finally directed a union representation election at Creature Comforts Brewing Company. The NLRB will soon hold a secret ballot election over whether employees wish to be represented for purposes of collective bargaining by the Brewing Union of Georgia. 

The bigger issue for Creature Comforts, however, is that even if it wins the election, the union will almost certainly use its four pending unfair labor practice charges against the employer to seek a bargaining order under the Board's recent Cemex decision (which the Board will apply retroactively).

Recall that Cemex authorizes the NLRB to issue a bargaining order instead of directing a second, re-run election if an employer commits any unfair labor practice prior to an election that would require the Board to set the election aside. Trader Joe's has already used Cemex to seek a bargaining order from a union election it lost back in April. 

In its ULP filings, the union has alleged that Creature Comforts has engaged in pervasive "union busting," including firing a key union supporter and making coercive statements and threats to two union-affiliated employees. The seriousness and pervasiveness of the ULPs the union accuses Creature Comforts of committing certainly seems to fit the Cemex bargaining-order bill. 

In other words, even in Creature Comforts wins the battle in its union election, with this NLRB it will lose the war and face the prospects of a bargaining order. 

If you want to know the lasting and scary impact of Cemex, it won't be card check recognition or RM elections, it will be compelled recognition and bargaining orders in lieu of re-run elections to remedy campaign unfair labor practices. Creature Comforts will soon discover this lesson the hard way.