Trump NLRB Stops Trust Fund Contributions at Pittsburgh Newspaper

In its continuing assault on workers’ rights, the Trump NLRB reversed the decision of an administrative law judge, and ruled that an employer newspaper could refuse to pay mandatory increases of up to 5% to the Union health and welfare fund on behalf of its employees.

The Union collective bargaining agreement said that the employer was required to pay up to 5% each year for 2016 and 2017. This annual increase escalator clause had been in the contract for years. When the Union contract expired, the parties continued to bargain in 2018 and the employer was required to maintain the “status quo” while bargaining. However, when the next increase came due in 2018, the newspaper refused to pay the higher health and welfare rate.

The administrative law judge held that annual increases up to 5% were the long time “status quo,” so the newspaper should pay the 2018 increase. However, on appeal, the Trump NLRB members reversed this decision, finding that the Union contract only said the increases should be awarded in 2016 and 2017, so there was no obligation to pay the increase in 2018.

The Union may appeal the NLRB decision to a Circuit Court of Appeals.

How to fight back against this latest attack? Make sure that if your contract has a uniform annual increase in trust fund contributions, for example, “up to 5 percent,” make sure the increases are not just limited to specific years. Also, use more flexible language like, “up to 5% each year, as such amount is required by the Trust Fund.”

Know your rights, defend your rights!

By: Bill Sokol | September 12, 2019

Legal Developments