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Lindsay v. Leggett & Platt, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

June 20, 2017

GAREY E. LINDSAY, Regional Director of the Ninth Region of the National Labor Relations Board, for and on behalf of the National Labor Relations Board, Petitioner,
v.
LEGGETT & PLATT, INC., Respondent.

          OPINION & ORDER

          KAREN K. CALDWELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the amended petition of Garey E. Lindsay, regional director of the Ninth Region of the National Labor Relations Board, for and on behalf of the Board, for injunctive relief against Leggett & Piatt, Inc. (DE 19).

         The Court held a hearing on the matter, at which both parties presented arguments. (DE 24). For the reasons stated on the record during the hearing and for those that follow, petitioner's amended complaint for injunctive relief is DENIED.

         I. Background

         Three main players are involved in this litigation. First is Lindsay, on behalf of the Board. Second is Leggett & Piatt, a corporation with offices and places of business in Winchester, Kentucky, that engages in the manufacture and nonretail sale of commercial and residential furnishings. Third is a union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, which has been the collective-bargaining representative of a specific unit of employees at Leggett & Piatt.

         The following timeline is uncontroverted. In December 2016, Leggett & Piatt received a petition signed by a majority of its Winchester, Kentucky plant's bargaining-unit employees that stated: "The undersigned employees of Leggett and Piatt # 002 do not want to be represented by IAM 619 hereafter referred to as 'union'."(DE 1-9). This petition has been referred to by the parties as the disaffection petition.

         In January 2017, Leggett & Piatt sent a letter to the union, informing the union of the disaffection petition that it received in December 2016. Leggett & Piatt's counsel also contacted the NLRB to ascertain whether the union had achieved majority status.

         On February 21, 2017, the union sent a letter to Leggett & Piatt stating that the union did "not believe" the claim that a majority of represented employees no longer wished to be represented by the union. (DE 19-16). The next day, Leggett & Piatt wrote the union to inform it that the company had "not received any evidence indicating that any employees have changed their minds in this regard" and that, accordingly, the company intended to withdraw recognition of the union upon the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. (DE 10-11).

         There is no evidence before the Court that the union presented a pro-union petition to Leggett & Piatt before the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement on February 28, 2017. Nor is there any evidence that the Board communicated any evidence or a pro-union petition to Leggett & Piatt before the agreement's expiration.

         Thus, on the date that it withdrew recognition of the union, Leggett & Piatt had no evidence to the contrary of the disaffection petition it received in December 2016. That is, Leggett & Piatt only had evidence that a majority of represented employees did not want to continue to be represented by the union.

         The union filed charges against Leggett & Piatt that are currently pending before the Board. (DE 19-1; 19-2). A hearing before an administrative law judge on the union's underlying charges against the company is scheduled for July 24, 2017. (DE 19-5). Through his amended petition, Lindsay asks that Leggett & Piatt be enjoined from continuing to commit unfair labor practices. (DE 19, Amended Petition ¶ 21).

         Lindsay's amended petition alleges that Leggett & Piatt has engaged in three unfair labor practices:

(1) Unlawfully withdrawing recognition of the union as the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of the unit (in the absence of a Board election) after the parties' collective bargaining agreement expired on February 28, 2017;
(2) Since March 1, 2017, failing to remit to the union dues deducted pursuant to valid, unexpired, and unrevoked employee ...

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