The Michigan Employment Relations Commission (“MERC”) released three decisions of note in April – two of which adopted Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) decisions after the relevant parties failed to file exceptions. In all three cases, the MERC (or ALJs) determined the employers had not committed a violation of the Public Employment Relations Act (“PERA”).
- In Plymouth‑Canton Comm Sch, 32 MPER ¶ 54 (2019), an assistant secretary was terminated after she made hostile comments about a co‑worker, using an expletive in her statement that she was going to “punch” the co‑worker “in the mouth.” While the union initially pursued a grievance against the school district, it abandoned the grievance when the parties determined that the secretary had, in fact, made the comment. The secretary pursued actions against the school district (termination in breach of contract) and union (violation of duty of fair representation) with MERC. However, MERC emphasized that the union had not breached its duty of fair representation – it had investigated the incident without bias – and that the school district’s decision to terminate the secretary did not violate the applicable collective bargaining agreement. Thus, the case was dismissed. The decision may be accessed here.
- In City of Detroit (Dept of Transp), Case No. C17 L‑105 (2019) (no exceptions), the union alleged that the employer’s foreman violated the PERA during several incidents in August, September, and October of 2017. Generally, the events leading to the unfair labor practices charges involved alleged heated remarks and retaliatory actions by the foreman, who allegedly acted with a retaliatory motive in response to his personal disagreements with the union. After holding a hearing on the matter, the ALJ determined that evidence submitted by both the employer and union, which generally involved uncorroborated testimony by the individuals involved in the relevant arguments, lacked credibility. Specifically, the ALJ opined that neither side was more credible than the other. The ALJ determined that, without sufficient credibility supporting its assertions, the union’s claims failed to establish an unfair labor practice. Consequently, the ALJ did not find that the employer violated the PERA, and the case was dismissed. The decision may be accessed here.
- In Univ of Michigan (Hosp/Med Ctr), Case No. C18 F‑052 (2019) (no exceptions), the employer instituted a unilateral scheduling change relative to Nurse Practitioners employed in the cardiovascular intensive care unit. The union argued that the schedule change resulted in the relevant employees working longer hours for less compensation. The ALJ found “no evidence” to support the union’s claim. Furthermore, the ALJ noted that the collective bargaining agreement between the parties explicitly provided that the employer had exclusive rights to establish work schedules. Thus, the employer’s exercise of its contractual right could not be the basis for an unfair labor practice charge against it. The ALJ found that the employer had not violated the PERA and dismissed the case. The decision may be accessed here.
Stay tuned for more MERC decision round‑ups in the coming months