The rules regarding union representation and unfair labor practices are complex and confusing for employees and employers alike. That’s reason enough to get expert help with any union-related problems, including what to do when employees vote out a union.
Recent case: Neil McMahon and several other former Northwest Airlines flight attendants sued Delta Airlines over pay after the companies merged and Northwest became part of Delta. Northwest flight attendants belonged to a union; those at Delta didn’t, and still had higher pay.
Northwest Airlines attendants voted out their union. The union went to the National Labor Relations Board and asked for another election, claiming Delta interfered with the first one.
At the same time, McMahon sued, seeking the same wages and benefits Delta flight attendants received. He argued that Delta was paying him less as punishment for having belonged to a union.
Delta argued that the National Labor Relations Act prohibited it from changing the terms and conditions of employment while the union’s election appeal was under way.
The court said both sides were partially right.
The Northwest attendants had the right to sue over union membership discrimination. They will have to prove that Delta used maintaining the status quo as an excuse to discriminate. Delta, on the other hand, will have to convince a jury that it reasonably believed it had no choice but to refuse to change the pay structure. (McMahon, et al., v. Delta, No. 11-CV-0521, DC MN, 2011)