Daily Labor Report® is the objective resource the nation’s foremost labor and employment professionals read and rely on, providing reliable, analytical coverage of top labor and employment...
By Rhonda Smith
Nov. 8 — Guitar Center Stores Inc. violated federal labor law by refusing for almost two years to bargain in good faith on first contract proposals for workers in Chicago, Las Vegas and New York City, an administrative law judge decided ( Guitar Center Stores Inc., 2016 BL 370953, NLRB ALJ, No. CA-130446, 11/7/16).
Company officials “engaged in numerous tactics designed to delay negotiations,” ALJ Charles J. Muhl ruled. The retailer, which sells musical instruments at 260 stores in the U.S., violated Section 8(a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act by engaging in “surface bargaining,” he said in reference to a strategy that impedes parties from reaching agreement.
Guitar Center tactics included not providing union officials with comprehensive wage counterproposals for months and “never making a counterproposal with respect to health insurance during the entirety of bargaining,” Muhl wrote in a Nov. 7 decision.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and its members “are glad to have been vindicated by the judge’s finding that Guitar Center failed to negotiate in good faith, and illegally withdrew recognition of the union,” Phil Andrews, director of the RWDSU’s retail organizing project, told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 8.
In July 2015, Peter Sung Ohr, regional director for NLRB Region 13 in Chicago, issued a consolidated unfair labor practice complaint against Guitar Center, based in Westlake Village, Calif. The complaint alleged that the employer unlawfully threatened workers with reduced benefits because of their union membership, refused to discuss certain wage plans and discouraged workers from engaging in union activities ( Guitar Center Stores Inc., NLRB Reg’l Dir., No. 13-CA-130446, complaint issued 7/24/15).
The RWDSU alleged in various ULP charges that Guitar Center unlawfully withdrew union recognition at affected stores in New York City in June 2014 and in Las Vegas in November 2014.
“This decision will only make the union campaign at Guitar Center stronger,” Andrews said, noting that workers at a store in Pittsburgh voted for RWDSU representation in March. The RWDSU is an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers.
Guitar Center representatives didn’t respond to Bloomberg BNA’s request for comment. The company “denies the allegations and asserts it was engaged in hard, but lawful, bargaining,” the ALJ decision noted.
Muhl recommended that the NLRB order Guitar Center to meet, upon request, with the union and “bargain in good faith concerning the terms and conditions of employment” in each of the three bargaining units.
The NLRB certified the election results in June 2013 for the Guitar Center store in New York City, in October 2013 for its counterpart in Chicago and in November 2014 for the store in Las Vegas.
Muhl also recommended that, because the RWDSU was not afforded a full opportunity to bargain during the certification years, “a 12-month extension to the certification year in each bargaining unit is appropriate.”
Muhl also ordered the company to rescind a change to its sales discount policy, which had financial benefits for employees, at the stores in the three cities. Guitar Center must “make whole any bargaining unit employees who suffered losses as a result of this unilateral change,” he said.
Affected stores in Chicago, Las Vegas and Manhattan also must post, within 14 days, notices outlining employee rights under the NLRA.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rhonda Smith in Washington, D.C. at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)