Legal Memorandum: Employer's Interference in a Union

Issue: Under federal labor law, how does an employee show that an employer interferes in the union?

Area of Law: Employee Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Interference in a union; Evidence; Employer
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 993 F.2d 1463; 709 F.2d 1371; 415 F.3d 279; 107 F. Supp. 2d 294; 303 U.S. 272
Cited Statutes: § 301
Date: 06/01/2007

In the case of NLRB v. Pac. Greyhound Lines, Inc., 303 U.S. 272 (1938), the facts showed that the employer “continuously interfered with and dominated the internal administration of the [union],” id. at 273, including manipulating the grievance system, id. at 273-74.  The NLRB found that the employer’s control over the union was completely effective, id. at 274, and the Court held that there was support in the evidence for the Board’s findings, id. at 275. 

It is not uncommon in so-called hybrid § 301 claims for the plaintiff employee to be required to show that his or her union acted arbitrarily in processing or failing to process a grievance protesting the employer’s actions.  See Aguinaga v. United Food & Commercial Workers Int’l Union, 993 F.2d 1463, 1470, 1471 (10th Cir. 1993) (observing that the evidence only must support a finding that the union acted in one of three ways—arbitrarily, discriminatorily, or in bad faith; holding that there was sufficient evidence to find that the union acted irrationally under the circumstances).

In Diaz v. Schwerman Trucking Co., 709 F.2d 1371 (11th Cir. 1983), for example, the employees sued their employer for enforcement of an arbitration award; they did not join their union in the suit but alleged that the union’s action or lack of action regarding enforcement of the award was “arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, and in bad faith, and in violation of the statutory duty of fair representation […]

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