U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS considers whether union neutrality agreements are improper 'thing of value'

The U.S. Supreme Court considered on Wednesday whether “neutrality agreements” between unions and employers violate federal labor law.

Under the agreements, businesses help labor unions in organization efforts in exchange for labor peace, the New York Times reports. The Washington Post offers some examples: An employer might grant access to employee lists or agree to remain neutral in exchange for union concessions, such as giving up the right to strike.

At issue is whether the agreements violate the Labor Management Relations Act, which bars companies from paying money or “any other thing of value” to a labor union trying to organize workers.

In the case before the court, a Florida greyhound track and casino agreed to allow union access to worker information and casino grounds, and to allow a unionization vote by cards collected from workers, rather than a secret ballot. The union agreed to spend $100,000 in support of a gambling referendum and to refrain from picketing or striking during the union drive.

Richard McCracken, a lawyer for the union, said such agreements are common in the hospitality industry, and they help avoid conflict and hard feelings. He argued federal labor law wasn’t intended to ban less tangible concessions.

The case is Unite Here Local 355 v. Mulhall.

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