Kreisberg v. Healthbridge Management LLC
Workers who strike in response to an unfair labor practice can possess a right to interim reinstatement that is greater than the rights owed to replacement workers. In 2010, the respondents allegedly subcontracted out unionized workers; rehired the workers at reduced wages; and incorporated new requirements for vacation and sick days. The union's grievances were rejected. In 2011, the union rejected the respondents' final proposal, and the respondents locked out workers in Milford. After the petitioner filed a complaint alleging the lockout was illegal, the respondents ended the Milford lockout. The respondents implemented a last proposal, which included wage increases of 6 percent and a 25 percent match of employee contributions, if the union's negotiators agreed to replace the pension plan with a 401(k). About 700 union workers went on strike and were replaced. An administrative law judge concluded the respondents' unilateral changes in 2010 constituted unfair labor practices. A petition requested that the court reinstate workers who went on strike, reinstate conditions of employment and bargain in good faith. When a collective bargaining agreement expires, an employer may not change terms and conditions concerning mandatory subjects of bargaining until negotiators reach an "impasse." An impasse takes place only when each party is unwilling to compromise. The respondents, who possessed the burden to prove an impasse took place, argued that after 38 meetings, the parties remained unwilling to compromise with respect to the pension plan. The court disagreed and concluded that the union was willing to give up the pension plan, if offered enough money in return. The respondents failed to prove there was an impasse. Reasonable cause existed that the respondents' unilateral implementation of its last proposal constituted an unfair labor practice. The respondents failed to substantiate claims that prior to going on strike workers mixed up names of patients, to confuse replacement workers, hid medical equipment and broke patient lifts. Reasonable cause existed to find that the respondents refused to negotiate in good faith and that the petitioner was entitled to injunctive relief.