3. SDWTs and the National Labor Relations Board


I am an senior engineer who is studying for an MS degree in Quality
Assurance.  As part of "Total Quality Management" we are studying High Performance
Teams/ Self Directed Work Teams. I have been asked to consider and state what I would 'recommend to management' concerning 'employee participation teams' ... "in light of recent NLRB

There are reams of NLRB rulings on line and I have no clue how to find any
particular topic in any of them. Are you aware of any "recent" (say last year or two) NLRB rulings which might have an impact on using SDWT or HPT ?  If so, what is/are the names or
dates of those rulings, so I can find them ? 

I don't have a clue if this concerns having to pay a premium on wages to
members of such a team, or what the situation is. Dale (USA)


Bodwell’s Answer:


I don’t believe there is any problem from a NLRB perspective with SDWT’s as described on this site.  The problem comes when employer’s attempt to dominate or control work teams. The implications of “SELF-DIRECTED” should keep us out of this quagmire.


The following if from Kauff, McCain and McGuire, LLP:

Under prior NLRB cases, a labor organization that is the creation of management, whose structure and function are essentially determined by management, and whose continued existence depends on the whim of management, is one whose formation and administration has been dominated under section 8(a)(2). In Keeler Brass, the company provided a meeting place for the committee on company grounds, paid employees’ wages while the committee met, and provided clerical support. The company also determined the committee’s membership eligibility rules, solicited employees to elect committee membership, posted sign up sheets, approved the candidates, conducted the election, counted the ballots, and announced committee membership. The committee charter was largely determined by the company as well. The company stipulated the number of committee members, the length of their terms, and when and where committee meetings would take place. Most importantly, the company maintained veto power on everything the committee did or decided. For all of these reasons, Keeler Brass was found to have dominated the grievance committee in violation of section 8(a)(2).

Since the practical result of this expansive interpretation of section 8(a)(2) is that it is exceedingly difficult for the typical employee participation committee to survive a challenge, the continued viability of these cooperative ventures remains in doubt. At the same time, it is clear that an employer’s facilitation of mere communication, such as sharing information or management presence at a brainstorming session, does not violate the NLRA. There would also be no violation where a committee is governed by majority rule, management representatives are in the minority, and the committee has the power to make and implement decisions on its own, rather than simply make proposals to management.”