On Sunday, the employees of Surly Brewing Company held an informational picket against the company stating the shutdown was a response to their unionization effort and not due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We said as much and believe it to be true. Our article last week was dead on.
The company says they had planned the shutdown before the employee vote, but have no proof. They haven’t released minutes of the meeting where such decision was made, have not provided access to the board members to confirm, or proven their credibility on this point in any fashion.
We understand the employees are filing with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) a protest against the company. On the front page of the NLRB website is the following:
Employer/Union Rights and Obligations
The National Labor Relations Act forbids employers from interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of rights relating to organizing, forming, joining or assisting a labor organization for collective bargaining purposes, or from working together to improve terms and conditions of employment, or refraining from any such activity. Similarly, labor organizations may not restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of these rights.
Examples of employer conduct that violates the law:
- Threatening employees with loss of jobs or benefits if they join or vote for a union or engage in protected concerted activity.
- Threatening to close the plant if employees select a union to represent them.
- Questioning employees about their union sympathies or activities in circumstances that tend to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights under the Act.
- Promising benefits to employees to discourage their union support.
- Transferring, laying off, terminating, assigning employees more difficult work tasks, or otherwise punishing employees because they engaged in union or protected concerted activity.
- Transferring, laying off, terminating, assigning employees more difficult work tasks, or otherwise punishing employees because they filed unfair labor practice charges or participated in an investigation conducted by NLRB.
Examples of labor organization conduct that violates the law:
- Threats to employees that they will lose their jobs unless they support the union.
- Seeking the suspension, discharge or other punishment of an employee for not being a union member even if the employee has paid or offered to pay a lawful initiation fee and periodic fees thereafter.
- Refusing to process a grievance because an employee has criticized union officials or because an employee is not a member of the union in states where union security clauses are not permitted.
- Fining employees who have validly resigned from the union for engaging in protected concerted activities following their resignation or for crossing an unlawful picket line.
- Engaging in picket line misconduct, such as threatening, assaulting, or barring non-strikers from the employer’s premises.
- Striking over issues unrelated to employment terms and conditions or coercively enmeshing neutrals into a labor dispute.