NLRB Reminds Unions That Information Requests Are A Two-Way Street

By Kamer Zucker Abbott

June 1, 2020

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently ruled that UNITE HERE's Local 1 violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by failing and refusing to respond to an employer’s information requests. The Board determined that the union’s failure to provide the requested information constituted a failure to bargain.

The dispute between the employer, Hyatt Regency Chicago, and the union centered around the employer’s attempts to obtain enough information about grievances to investigate the merits. The employer routinely sought, through a request for information, all facts, documents, notes, photographs and other information that pertained to a grievance, including notes taken by the grievant or the union representative. The union consistently refused to provide more than summary information, insisting that more information would be disclosed at each stage of the grievance process and that notes from the grievance intake process were confidential. The union also argued that the employer’s requests for information were made in bad faith and were unduly burdensome.

Each of the union’s objections was rejected by the Administrative Law Judge who heard this case, and the NLRB adopted and agreed with the Judge’s decision. The Judge reminded the union of the following basic principles:

•    a union has the same duty under the NLRA to furnish information as the employer;
•    a union has a statutory obligation to furnish an employer with relevant requested information so that an employer can assess the merits of grievances to determine whether to proceed to arbitration or attempt to resolve them; and
•    information requests regarding bargaining unit employees’ terms and conditions of employment are “presumptively relevant” and must be provided.

This decision is chocked-full of common-sense reasoning about the mutual obligation parties to a collective bargaining relationship share in relation to information requests. Employers in bargaining relationships will want to keep this decision in mind when serving or responding to information requests. If you would like to discuss this case or information requests in more detail, contact a KZA attorney.

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