The National Labor Relations Act vests the NLRB with broad powers to correct violations of U.S. labor laws. Last month, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed the Board’s broad reach by affirming a decision ordering a manufacturer to return to the U.S. jobs transferred to a Mexican production facility.
In Amglo Kemlite Labs, Inc. v. NLRB, employees at the company’s Indiana facility conducted a one week strike. At the conclusion of the strike, the company moved 22 production jobs to its Mexican facility. Affected employees filed an unfair labor practice charge, alleging that the transfers were made in retaliation for the earlier strike, in violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA. The NLRB agreed, ordering the employer to return an unspecified number of jobs from Mexico to the U.S. facility.
On appeal, the employer claimed that the NLRB’s order never included findings of exactly how many jobs were sent to Mexico as a result of the alleged NLRA violation. The Seventh Circuit disagreed, holding that the specific remedy imposed on the company can be determined through subsequent NLRB proceedings. In other words, the NLRB can order restoration of the U.S. jobs without detailing the specific remedy in its decision.
This case reminds employers of the long reach of the NLRB. The Board will not hesitate to make decisions that affect operations at facilities outside of the U.S. if it concludes that the employer shifted work in violation of U.S. labor laws. The specific business reasons for such moves should be thoroughly documented to defend against claims that the decision was made in retaliation for U.S. employees’ exercising their statutory rights.