Epstein Becker Green achieved a significant victory on behalf of a client in the waste and recycling industry in connection with petitions filed by its employees to have an election to decertify a union as their collective bargaining representative. Shortly after the filing of the petitions, the union filed numerous unfair labor practice charges against our client, accusing it of unlawfully influencing/coercing its employees to file the decertification petitions and seeking to invalidate the decertification petitions. While this is a common delay tactic employed by unions seeking to avoid decertification elections, this case was particularly unusual and complex given both the number of claims filed against our client and the important political and business implications an adverse judgment would have had for our client. Specifically, an adverse judgment could have seriously impaired, if not destroyed, our client’s ability to do business in a city in Southern California due to its agreements with the city and related political pressure.
After a 10-day trial, our client prevailed on 14 of 17 claims (five of which were dismissed prior to trial). Our client had expected to lose the three claims on which it did not prevail; in fact, our client had admitted to two of them but felt vindicated as the judge specifically found that these were “unintentional,” minor, and purely technical violations, which the client had promptly corrected at the time. Most importantly, the judge rejected all of the more serious allegations involving union negotiations and the termination and discipline of pro-union employees, finding absolutely no evidence of union animus, bad faith bargaining, or discriminatory retaliation against any pro-union employees. The result of this case will likely have positive implications for our client’s business interests in Southern California.