Employer Penalized for Ceasing to Recognize Union After Decertification Vote

By Drew Hintze posted 03-27-2024 09:00 AM


Employers have an obligation to maintain recognition of a union until decertification results are formally certified. Earlier this month, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found Midwest Division-RMC LLC (d/b/a Research Medical Center), an organization that operates hospitals in the Kansas City area, unlawfully failed to comply with its legal and contractual obligations to a union after workers voted to eject that union, but before the election results were certified. The Board’s full decision can be found here.

Research Medical Center and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that ultimately expired on February 28, 2021. SEIU served as the bargaining representative for Research Medical Center’s service and maintenance workers and technical employees. On March 29, a timely decertification petition was filed. On March 31, Research Medical Center and SEIU reached an agreement on a multi-year successor collective-bargaining agreement, which was ratified by the SEIU bargaining unit on April 6. However, on June 14, a decertification election was held, in which employees voted in favor of decertification. On February 8, 2022, the results of the decertification election were certified.

During the eight-month time frame between the June 14, 2021, decertification vote, and February 8, 2022, certification of results, the Board found that Research Medical Center engaged in several unfair labor practices. This included the following:

  • Ceasing recognizing the union as the bargaining representative for the bargaining unit   

  • Prematurely repudiating its labor contract with the union

  • Withholding information from the union for grievance-related matters

  • Denying union-representatives access to the employer’s facility for new employee on-boarding and training

  • Halting the collection of union dues

  • Telling workers they were no longer represented by the union

The Board determined that Research Medical Center’s actions were unlawful by inaccurately notifying employees that, as of the June 14 decertification vote, the union had been decertified as the employee’s bargaining representative and that these employees were now “formerly” represented by the union. 

As a result, the Board found that Research Medical Center had prematurely effectuated an actual withdrawal of union recognition before the expiration of the agreement and finalization of the decertification vote. Research Medical Center was therefore ordered to, among other things, post notice of its affirmative obligations under the collective bargaining agreement and reimburse the union for any dues it failed to collect and transfer, with accrued interest.

Employers Council is committed to supporting employers throughout the union election and negotiation processes. Successfully navigating the complexities of labor law challenges can be daunting and time-consuming. If you require assistance or more information on how our Labor Relations team at Employers Council can help, please don’t hesitate to contact our Member Experience team.