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Heartland Human Servs. v. National Labor Relations Board

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

March 14, 2014

HEARTLAND HUMAN SERVICES, Petitioner / Cross-Respondent,
v.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Respondent / Cross-Petitioner, and AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY & MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, COUNCIL 31, AFL-CIO, Intervening Respondent

Argued January 23, 2014.

Application for Enforcement, and Cross-Petition for Review, of an Order of the National Labor Relations Board. No. 14-CA-087886.

For National Labor Relations Board, Petitioner (13-1954): Linda Dreeben, Jill A. Griffin, David Habenstreit, Barbara A. Sheehy, National Labor Relations Board, Washington, DC; Daniel L. Hubbel, National Labor Relations Board, St. Louis, MO.

For Heartland Human Services, Respondent (13-1954): Leigh C. Bonsall, Joshua G. Vincent, Hinshaw & Culbertson, Chicago, IL; John L. Gilbert, Sandberg, Phoenix & Von Gontard, Edwardsville, IL.

For American Federation of State, County And Municipal Employees, Council 31, Melissa J. Auerbach, Intervening Petitioner (13-1954): Melissa J. Auerbach, Cornfield & Feldman, Chicago, IL.

For Heartland Human Services, Petitioner, Litigant (13-2079): Leigh C. Bonsall, Joshua G. Vincent, Hinshaw & Culbertson, Chicago, IL; John L. Gilbert, Sandberg, Phoenix & Von Gontard, Edwardsville, IL.

For National Labor Relations Board, Respondent (13-2079): Linda Dreeben, Jill A. Griffin, David Habenstreit, Barbara A. Sheehy, National Labor Relations Board, Washington, DC; Daniel L. Hubbel, National Labor Relations Board, St. Louis, MO.

For American Federation of State, County And Municipal Employees, Council 31, Intervening Respondent (13-2079): Melissa J. Auerbach, Cornfield & Feldman, Chicago, IL.

Before POSNER and RIPPLE, Circuit Judges, and GILBERT, District Judge.[*]

OPINION

Page 803

Posner, Circuit Judge.

The Labor Board asks us to enforce its order finding that Heartland Human Services, a company that provides mental-health and substance-abuse services, committed an unfair labor practice by refusing, in the wake of a decertification election, to continue recognizing a union that represented a bargaining unit of Heartland employees. See 29 U.S.C. § § 158(a)(1), (5). (Until enforced by judicial order, an unfair labor practice order has no legal force, 29 U.S.C. § 160(e); NLRB v. P*I*E Nationwide, Inc., 894 F.2d 887, 890 (7th Cir. 1990); National Ass'n of Manufacturers v. NLRB, 717 F.3d 947, 951, 405 U.S.App. D.C. 153 (D.C. Cir. 2013), which is why the Board has petitioned us.) We must decide both whether we have jurisdiction to adjudicate the company's challenge to the Board's order setting aside the results of the election and whether Heartland indeed committed an unfair labor practice by refusing to recognize the union after the election.

In August 2011, just days after the latest collective bargaining agreement between the company and the union had expired, one of the employees in the bargaining unit asked the Labor Board to conduct a decertification election on the ground that many of the unit's members no longer wanted to be represented by the union. Neither the company nor the union opposed the request. The election was conducted in June of the following year. Thirty-eight votes were cast: 19 for the union and 18 against, with the remaining ballot not opened because the union contended that the employee who had cast it was not a member of the bargaining unit. The Board rejected that challenge, the ballot was opened, and the vote was against the union, which meant the election had resulted in a tie.

Had that been the only challenge to the election, the union, lacking majority support, would ...


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