Unions and Company
The paper also details the outcome of the company's responses in those cases.
The issue involved that is taken for discussion is the provision of food and services to the employees and whether such provision can be construed as one of the terms and conditions of employment. The cases taken up relate to the closure of the cafeteria meant for the workers by WMATA and the refusal to negotiate on the increase in the prices of food and beverages by Ford Motor Co. In both the cases the companies concerned had taken a stand that the provision of food and other services to the employees within the work premises is NOT one of the terms and conditions of employment. But the Unions argued that the issue necessarily forms part of the conditions of employment and hence the Unions have to be consulted before any decision could be taken on the issues. The relevant cases are discussed below:
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is regulated by Virginia, Maryland and District of Columbia Authorities who formed a lengthy compact for the entity. WMATA negotiated a 'collective bargaining agreement' with the trade union in which the employees had membership. WMATA wanted to close down a cafeteria to provide additional space for its legal department. The Authority argued that ‘closing the cafeteria’ is an absolute business decision and there was no need to get the Union agreed for this. Moreover there were other cafeterias available in the local vicinity. But the Union argued that "According to the compact, a "labor dispute" is defined as "any controversy concerning wages, salaries, hours, working conditions, or benefits," and must be resolved through collective bargaining" and hence the closing need to be negotiated. The Union took the issue to an arbitrator who decided in favor of the Union. Against the arbitration award the Authority filed a suit in the Federal Court. The Federal court confirmed the view taken by the arbitration. On an appeal by the WMATA against the decision of the Federal Court, the US Court of Appeals 4th Circuit gave its ruling.
Decision of the Court of Appeal:
Citing a 1979 decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Ford Motor Co. where it decided the food service is a condition of employment, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed the decision of the lower court and ruled in favor of the Union.
2. Ford Motor Co (Chicago Stamping Plant) v
National Labor Relations Board Et Al3
Facts of the Case:
Ford Motor Co was providing its employees with in-plant cafeteria and vending machine service through independent caterer with an express right to review the quality, quantity and price of the food being offered. The company wanted to increase the price of the food items and notified the Union accordingly. When the Union wanted to negotiate the prices the company refused to bargain. The Union filed a charge of unfair labor practice with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) The NLRB citing the provisions of Section 8 (a) (5) and 8 (d) of the National Labor Relations Act, considered the provision of in-plant foods and services are 'other terms and conditions of