Labor union members have been forced for many years to prove bad faith interest when seeking to make claims against their own unions for failure to represent them properly. That has now changed based on an October 24, 2018 Memorandum from General Counsel, Peter Robb (Trump appointee) of the National Labor Relations Boards (NLRB – the federal labor law enforcement agency). Claims of negligence against unions will now be easier because the union will be presumptively liable if workers’ grievances are not properly processed. Unions are currently already facing declines in memberships and finances, and this new policy could exacerbate those problems.
Unions’ defenses to negligence claims will now have to “show the existence of established, reasonable procedures or systems in place to track grievances”. Thus, even a failure to keep a worker informed of the grievance’s progress will lead to liability. Management commentators have welcomed the new policy and stated that prior union violations of employee rights went unremedied because unions merely had to show a lack of bad faith. The new policy will apply both at the NLRB and in court.