Friday, November 14, 2003

Fourth Circuit sides mostly against NLRB in solicitation, recognition case

In NLRB v. Transpersonnel, Inc., a split panel of the Fourth Circuit upheld in part and rejected in part the National Labor Relations Board's disposition of unfair labor practice charges against a trucking company, where the issues were whether the company had unlawfully solicited employees to sign anti-union statements and whether the company had unlawfully withdrawn recognition of a Teamsters local as the collective bargaining representative of its employees, after the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. Judge Shedd wrote the opinion for the Court, with Judge Luttig concurring in part and dissenting as to one of the solicitation claims resolved against the company, and Judge Wilkinson dissenting as to everything decided against the NLRB. What is interesting about the case is that for a published opinion it is mostly about the facts, with Judge Wilkinson's dissent consisting mostly of the complaint that the majority was inadequately deferential to the NLRB's findings of fact.

I was reading that death penalty report the other day and one of the issue raised in it was the page limitation for briefing appeals in the Virginia Supreme Court, the issue being that counsel did not have enough space to argue all the issues and had to pick and choose what to include in the brief. Although the stakes are not comparable, of course, the same is often true in NLRA cases, as I have argued here in the part. The big outcome depends on the smaller disputes about what happened to many different employees. In this case, what if there had been 25 solicitation charges instead of just 9, I wonder. Would the Court have been in the same position to unravel the facts?

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