The NLRB’s three-Democrat panel of board members declared SEIU Healthcare Michigan violated the labor rights of a member of its union staff on Friday.
The intra-union fighting stemmed from SEIU’s refusal to hand over discharge grievance files to former employee Sara Vitale, a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
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The NLRB’s Detroit office ordered the union to turn over the requested files in August. SEIU officials ignored the request, leading to an appeal to the NLRB.
"Since about Dec. 21, 2011, and continuing to date, the [union] has failed and refused to provide [Vitale] with a copy of the requested file," the NLRB ruled. "[SEIU] has breached its duty of fair representation owed to … the employees in the unit."
The board ordered SEIU to "cease and desist" from its "unfair labor practice" and to post notices of the violation around its office.
"The National Labor Relations Board has found that we violated Federal labor law … We will not in any like or related manner restrain or coerce you," the notice will read.
The case amused several labor attorneys who have faced off against the politically powerful SEIU in the past.
"An in-house union representing SEIU’s employees in Michigan is found guilty (by the illegal NLRB) of violating the rights of one of its own members—an SEIU employee—under the NLRA," one labor attorney told the Washington Free Beacon, who asked for anonymity because of his ongoing business before the board. "Good comic relief."
The NLRB ruling may not be the last word on the case. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in January declared the composition of the board unconstitutional, allowing parties in NLRB cases to challenge the legality of board decisions. Senate Republicans are also seeking legislation to block the board from implementing decisions until the Senate has confirmed every member.
Neither Vitale nor the SEIU returned calls and emails for comment.