Montague v. National Labor Relations Board

698 F.3d 307 (2012)

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Montague v. National Labor Relations Board

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
698 F.3d 307 (2012)

Facts

Dana Companies (Dana) manufactured automotive parts at about 90 facilities worldwide, including one in St. Johns, Michigan. The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UAW) already represented over 2,200 Dana employees at other facilities and sought to organize 305 in St. Johns. Dana and UAW entered a letter of agreement (LOA) providing a framework to govern their collective-bargaining relationship if a majority of employees chose UAW. The LOA’s purpose statement stated that an “[e]mployee’s freedom to choose is a paramount concern of Dana as well as the UAW.” Both parties agreed not to allow anyone to intimidate or coerce employees into a decision choosing their bargaining representative. The LOA specified Dana could not recognize UAW as the employees’ representative unless a majority expressed a desire for UAW to represent them. Dana agreed to remain neutral during UAW’s organizational campaign and to provide UAW access to employees and their personal information. The LOA also provided a procedure for a neutral to check union membership cards to determine when UAW had gained majority support. The parties agreed not to hold strikes or lockouts until they finalized a formal collective-bargaining agreement (CBA). Most importantly, the LOA described principles the parties agreed to include in future bargaining and labor agreements. Dana issued a press release announcing a “partnership agreement” with UAW. Employees Joseph Montague and Kenneth Gray (plaintiffs) filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) (defendant) alleging Dana committed unfair labor practices by unlawfully assisting UAW and that UAW restrained or coerced employees in choosing a bargaining representative, both in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). An administrative-law judge dismissed the complaint. The NLRB upheld the dismissal. Meanwhile, Dana sold its St. Johns facility without the employees ever selecting the UAW to represent them. Montague and Gray petitioned for review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rogers, C.J.)

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