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Valley Hosp. Med. Ctr., Inc. v. NLRB (9th Cir. 22-1804 5/6/24) Union Dues Checkoff

By May 6, 2024June 30th, 2024Uncategorized

The panel filed (1) an order denying a petition for rehearing en banc and amending the opinion and special concurrence filed on February 20, 2024; and (2) an amended opinion and an amended special concurrence denying Valley Hospital Medical Center’s petition for review, granting the National Labor Relations Board’s cross-application for enforcement, and enforcing the Board’s order finding that Valley Hospital engaged in an unfair labor practice under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) by unilaterally ceasing union dues checkoff.

The court previously remanded the case to the Board to explain better its decision that an employer may unilaterally cease union dues checkoff after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement. On remand, the Board changed its mind, and rendered a new decision (1) readopting its prior rule prohibiting employers from unilaterally ceasing dues checkoff after expiration of a collective bargaining agreement, and (2) finding that Valley Hospital engaged in an unfair labor practice.

Valley Hospital argued that the Board exceeded its authority because this court’s mandate authorized the Board to supplement its reasoning but not to change its interpretation of the NLRA. As a preliminary matter, the panel held that it had jurisdiction to consider Valley Hospital’s argument. The panel held that this court’s mandate did not clearly foreclose reconsideration of the Board’s underlying rule regarding dues checkoff after expiration of the applicable collective bargaining agreement, and therefore the Board was not bound by its prior decision.

Valley Hospital next argued that the panel should affirm the Board’s first decision (“Valley Hospital I”) as the most reasonable interpretation of the NLRA based on the explanation in the dissenting opinion in the Board’s decision on remand (“Valley Hospital II”). The panel stated that it was reviewing the Board’s decision on remand in Valley Hospital II, not the Board’s decision in Valley Hospital I or the dissenting opinion in Valley Hospital II. The panel held that the Board followed a proper decisionmaking process in Valley Hospital II by providing a reasoned explanation for overruling its prior decision, and applied a permissible interpretation of the NLRA.

Judge O’Scannlain specially concurred to highlight a troubling trend where the Board frequently changes its mind depending on its political composition, as illustrated by its changing approach in this case to union dues checkoff by employers pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement.