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In the absence of antiunion animus, it is lawful -- and indeed common in this era of concession bargaining -- for one party to a collective bargaining agreement to propose, midterm, the trade of a right it has under the contract for a modification of the agreement. This sort of ongoing flexibility in labor-management relations is crucial. The freedom to suggest exchanges of rights permits parties to adapt their relationship to unanticipated events or changed circumstances during the lifetime of a contract, thus keeping the collective bargaining process vital and responsive to both sides' needs.
Intervenor company proposed relocating certain operations to a nonunion plant during midterm contract negotiations with petitioner union. After the parties could not agree over the proposed relocation, the company announced its decision to transfer the assembly operations to the nonunion facility. The union then filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the NLRB issued complaint against the company, alleging unfair labor practices in violation of 29 U.S.C.S. §§ 157, 158(a)(1), (3), and (5), and 158(d). The NLRB initially held that the company's action was a midterm contract modification in violation of 29 U.S.C.S. § 158(a)(1), (3), and (5). The company sought review. While the case was pending, the NLRB filed motion to remand the case for further consideration. NLRB then reversed its earlier decision and dismissed the complaint. The union appealed, on the theory that the Company's actions violated section 8(d).
By proposing to transfer to a nonunion plant during midterm contract negotiations with petitioner union, did the intervenor company violate section 8(d) of the National Labor Relations Act?
The court noted that under the facts stipulated, the company acted with antiunion animus; that the relocation was prompted by purely economic considerations; and that the company satisfied all contractual and legal obligations to bargain over the proposed relocation. The company further asserted, without challenge from the union, that the relocation was fully consistent with the terms of the parties' collective bargaining agreement. Thus, under the circumstances, the court concluded that section 8(d) proscribed neither the announcement of a tentative intention to relocate nor the final decision to relocate, and the court therefore affirmed the decision of the NLRB.