Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sands v. National Labor Relations Board

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

June 17, 2016

Laura Sands, Petitioner

          Argued February 18, 2016

         On Petition for Review of an Order of the National Labor Relations Board

          Aaron B. Solem argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs was Glenn M. Taubman.

          Robert J. Englehart, Supervisory Attorney, National Labor Relations Board, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Richard F. Griffin, General Counsel, John H. Ferguson, Associate General Counsel, Linda Dreeben, Deputy Associate General Counsel, and Doug Callahan, Attorney.

          James B. Coppess argued the cause for intervenor. With him on the brief was Laurence Gold.

          Before: Tatel, Griffith, and Kavanaugh, Circuit Judges.

          Griffith, Circuit Judge:

         In this matter, the National Labor Relations Board held that a union does not commit an unfair labor practice by failing to tell a prospective member how much money she will save in reduced dues should she choose not to join. But we cannot reach the merits of that decision. Actions undertaken by the union since the filing of this petition for review have rendered the matter moot. For that reason, we dismiss the petition for review as moot and vacate the Board's order under our equitable authority.


         In 2004, petitioner Laura Sands began working at a Kroger grocery store in Crawfordsville, Indiana, whose employees had been organized by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Local 700. The collective-bargaining agreement between Kroger and the union included a "union-security clause, " which provided that all grocery department employees-even those who did not join the union-had to pay dues to the union to cover the costs of representational activities.

         When Sands began her job at the store, the union sent her a letter and membership application explaining to her what rights and obligations she had under the union-security clause. The application explained that, whether she joined the union or not, she was required to pay dues to the union to compensate it for acting as her collective-bargaining agent. The application was also careful to explain that she need not join the union, and that if she did not, she could refuse to pay for the union's activities that were unrelated to collective bargaining. Important for this case, however, neither the letter nor the application told her how much money she would save if she did not join the union, which for Sands was about $3.50 per month.

         Sands decided to join the union and paid all her dues until she quit work at the store in 2005. At that time, she sent the union a letter claiming that she "never wanted to join [the union] in the first place, " and that the union had "deliberately misled" her about her obligations under the union-security clause.[1] Shortly thereafter, Sands filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Board, and the General Counsel issued a complaint against the union. According to the complaint, the union violated section 8 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by failing to tell Sands when she began work at Kroger how much less in dues she would have to pay if she did not join the union. See 29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(1)(A). Before the administrative law judge (ALJ), the union argued that Sands was not entitled to that information until after she chose not to join the union. The General Counsel and Sands argued that she was entitled to the information at the same time that she was told about the union-security clause. The ALJ recommended dismissing the complaint based on prior Board decisions supporting the union's position.

         Both the General Counsel and Sands filed exceptions with the Board, arguing that the Board decisions on which the ALJ relied conflicted with D.C. Circuit case law. In particular, they cited our decision in Penrod v. NLRB, 203 F.3d 41 (D.C. Cir. 2000), where we held that new employees must be given "sufficient information" to decide whether to join the union, including "the percentage of union dues that would be chargeable" should they not join. Id. at 47 (applying Abrams v. Commc'ns Workers of Am., 59 F.3d 1373 (D.C. Cir. 1995)). The Board agreed that Penrod and Abrams, the case on which Penrod relied, would answer the question at hand against the union, but quite remarkably dismissed the complaint anyway. The Board asserted that it was not bound to follow Penrod and Abrams because our decisions there had failed to account for a policy that underlay the Board's position. UFCW, Local 700 (Kroger), 361 N.L.R.B. No. 39 (2014). Before us, the Board recognizes again, as it did below, that our prior decisions would compel us to vacate the Board's order on the merits. The Board hopes that we will revisit those decisions en banc.

         Sands petitions for review of the Board's order and asserts jurisdiction under 29 U.S.C. § 160(f). But this case is moot, and we do not have ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.