NLRB Invites Briefs Regarding the Board's Standard for Deferral to Arbitration Awards

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February 7, 2014

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) invites interested parties to file briefs in Case 28-CA-022625, Babcock & Wilcox Construction Inc., to determine whether or not the Board should continue, modify or abandon the Olin/Spielberg standard for deferral to arbitration awards. Click here to view the Notice and Invitation to File Briefs for more information.

Under the existing standard, the Board defers to an arbitration award when (1) the arbitration proceedings are fair and regular; (2) all parties agree to be bound; and (3) the arbitral decision is not repugnant to the purposes and policies of the Act.  Spielberg Mfg. Co., 112 NLRB 1080 (1955).  Further, the arbitral forum must have considered the unfair labor practice issue.  The Board deems the unfair labor practice issue adequately considered if (1) the contractual issue is factually parallel to the unfair labor practice issue, and (2) the arbitrator was presented generally with the facts relevant to resolving the unfair labor practice issue.  Olin Corp., 268 NLRB 573 (1984).  The burden of proof rests with the party opposing deferral.

The NLRB General Counsel has asked the Board to adopt a different standard.  Under his proposal, the party urging deferral would bear the burden of demonstrating that (1) the collective-bargaining agreement incorporates the statutory right, or the statutory issue was presented to the arbitrator, and (2) the arbitrator correctly enunciated the applicable statutory principles and applied them in deciding the issue.  If the party urging deferral makes that showing, the Board would defer unless the award was clearly repugnant to the Act. 

The Board is inviting all interested parties to file briefs, not exceeding 50 pages in length.  The briefs should be filed with the Board in Washington, D.C. on or before March 25, 2014. The parties and amici may file briefs electronically at http://mynlrb.nlrb.gov/efile.  If assistance is needed in filing through http://mynlrb.nlrb.gov/efile, please contact Gary W. Shinners, Executive Secretary, National Labor Relations Board.

The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency vested with the power to safeguard employees' rights to organize and to determine whether to have unions as their bargaining representative. The agency also acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions.

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