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Supreme Court to Review Legality of Union Neutrality Agreement

In addition to agreeing to hear the issue of recess appointments, on June 24, 2013, the Supreme Court granted cert in a case challenging the legality of so called “neutrality agreements.”  UNITE HERE, Local 355 v. Mulhall. Unions use neutrality agreements to get employers to agree not to oppose unionization and not to campaign against a union.

UNITE HERE is challenging the ruling of the 11th Circuit that such neutrality agreements could constitute a “thing of value” which cannot be demanded by or granted to a labor organization absent very limited and expressly identified circumstances. The restrictions on such transactions are contained in Section 302 of the Labor Management Relations Act (the “LMRA”) which forbids employers from paying, lending, or delivering “any money or other thing of value” to a union seeking to represent their employees, and prohibits the labor union from demand or receiving the same.

Martin Mulhall, an employee at Hollywood Greyhound Track in Florida, challenged the neutrality agreement entered into by his employer and UNITE HERE Local 355, and the 11th Circuit ruled that such an agreement could violate Section 302 if it conveyed a benefit with the intent of curbing or influencing the union.

While a decision will not be issued until next year, the outcome of this case is important as unions that have increasingly sought to use top-down organizing strategies such as neutrality agreements to eliminate any opposition when they attempt to unionization non-union workers.

Additional UNITE HERE coverage:

BT Labor Relations - "Court Finds Company-Union Neutrality Agreement Unlawful."

© 2022 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume III, Number 177
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About this Author

Steve Hernandez, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Los Angeles, Labor and Employment Law Attorney
Partner

Steve L. Hernández is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Barnes & Thornburg. A member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law Department, Mr. Hernández focuses his practice on traditional labor and employment law. Mr. Hernández has extensive experience litigating class action matters.

Mr. Hernández also brings four years of experience as an attorney with Region 21 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to his practice. While at the NLRB, Mr. Hernández investigated unfair labor practice, litigated unfair labor practice complaints,...

310-284-3775
Scott Witlin Employment lawyer Barnes Thornburg
Partner

Scott J. Witlin is a partner and the administrator of the Labor & Employment Department in the firm's Los Angeles office. He is Co-Chair of the firm's Wage and Hour Practice Group and a member of the firm's Entertainment, Media and Sports Practice Group.

Scott assists companies in dealing with the challenges of employing workers in California and throughout the U.S. Scott's practice includes both traditional labor and employment law matters, including wage and hour class actions, arbitrations, collective bargaining negotiations, compliance with various guild and union agreements...

310-284-3777
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