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Claude T. Harrell, Jr., Regional Director of Subregion 33 of the v. American Red Cross

November 9, 2011

CLAUDE T. HARRELL, JR., REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF SUBREGION 33 OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, PETITIONER,
v.
AMERICAN RED CROSS, HEART OF AMERICA BLOOD SERVICES REGION, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James E. Shadid United States District Judge

E-FILED Wednesday, 09 November, 2011 09:27:55 AM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

ORDER

This matter is now before the Court on Petitioner's Petition for Injunctive Relief under Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended. For the reasons set forth below, the Petition [#1] is GRANTED IN PART.

BACKGROUND

Respondent, American Red Cross, Heart of America Blood Services Region, is an unincorporated operating unit of the American National Red Cross with its headquarters and place of business in Peoria, Illinois. It is engaged in the process of recruiting donors, collecting blood, manufacturing various blood products, and distributing those products to facilities throughout the region. On March 21, 2007, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Council 31, AFL-CIO (hereinafter referred to as the "Union"), filed a petition to represent a certain class of Respondent's employees. Following a hearing, the Regional Director for Subregion 33 of the NLRB issued a decision finding that certain employees should be in the bargaining unit; Respondent appealed this decision. On June 1, 2007, the bargaining unit employees voted in an election, but the ballots were impounded pending the outcome of Respondent's appeal.

On September 1, 2010, the NLRB issued an Order affirming the Regional Director's decision. On September 16, 2010, the ballots were counted, and the Union had won the election. Respondent objected to the results of the election on September 23, 2010. The objections were overruled and on October 7, 2010, the Union was certified as the exclusive collective-bargaining representative for the following employees of Respondent:

All full-time, part-time and per diem collections specialists I, collections specialists II, collections technicians I, collections technicians II, mobile unit assistants I, mobile unit assistant I/collections specialists I, mobile unit assistant I/collections technicians I, mobile unit assistants I/CTI-HH, mobile unit assistants II, mobile unit assistants II/collections specialists I, mobile unit assistants II/CTI-HH, mobile unit supply clerks, collections assistants, and team leaders employed by the Employer in its Donor Services department, excluding office clerical and professional employees, guards and supervisors as defined in the Act and all other employees.

There are 170 members in this bargaining unit. On October 21, 2010, Respondent appealed this decision, and the appeal was denied on December 15, 2010.

While this process was underway, Respondent made changes to bargaining unit employees' terms and conditions of employment. Petitioner alleges that these changes were made unilaterally and in violation of the duty to bargain collectively. Respondent argues that it had no duty to bargain with the Union at this time.

Specifically, Petitioner alleges that from May 29, 2009 through April 14, 2011, Respondent discontinued matching employees 401(k) contributions, suspended merit pay increases, closed the retirement pension plan to new employees, changed employee health insurance benefits, reassigned team leader duties to supervisory employees, refused to bargain, changed employee job descriptions/classifications/titles/pay grades or salary tiers, changed its policy regarding the assignment of employees to load vehicles, changed the work schedules of mobile unit supply clerks/general services supply clerks, changed its policy regarding the amount of paid time-off employees can carry over from year to year, and reassigned non-bargaining unit employees to perform bargaining unit work on blood drives. Petitioner filed charges corresponding to each of these actions. The parties did not begin bargaining for the first contract until February 27, 2011. On August 18, 2011, an administrative law judge for the NLRB convened a hearing on the underlying charges in this matter, and that review remains pending.

On August 1, 2011, Petitioner filed a Petition for Injunctive Relief under Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, seeking preliminary injunctive relief during the pendency of the underlying matters before the NLRB. Following briefing of the issues, an evidentiary hearing and oral argument were held on October 31, 2011. During the hearing, Petitioner advised that it was no longer seeking relief with respect to the portion of the Petition seeking a bargaining order, as the parties have begun to bargain in good faith. This Order follows.

DISCUSSION

Section 10(j) of the NLRA provides in relevant part:

The Board shall have power, upon issuance of a complaint as provided in subsection (b) of this section charging that any person has engaged in or is engaging in an unfair labor practice, to petition any United States district court, within any district wherein the unfair labor practice in question is alleged to have occurred or wherein such person resides or transacts business, for appropriate temporary relief or restraining order. Upon the filing of any such petition the court shall cause notice thereof to be served upon such ...


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