United Auto., Aerospace & Agric. Implement Workers of Am., Local 600, AFL-CIO v. Nat'l Labor Relations Bd.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Citation956 F.3d 345
Docket NumberNos. 19-2033/2168,s. 19-2033/2168
Decision Date13 April 2020

956 F.3d 345

NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Respondent/Cross-Petitioner,

Lloyd Stoner, Intervenor.

Nos. 19-2033/2168

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

Decided and Filed: April 13, 2020

COUNSEL ON BRIEF: Seth Matus, MATUS LAW OFFICE, P.C., Naperville, Illinois, James R. Andary, ANDARY LAW GROUP, Mt. Clemons, Michigan, for Petitioner/Cross-Respondent. Usha Dheenan, Brady Francisco-FitzMaurice, David Habensreit, NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Washington, D.C., for Respondent/Cross-Petitioner. Alyssa K. Hazelwood, Glenn M. Taubman, NATIONAL RIGHT TO WORK LEGAL DEFENSE FOUNDATION, INC., Springfield, Virginia, for Intervenor.

Before: SUHRHEINRICH, BUSH, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.

SUHRHEINRICH, Circuit Judge.

After paying union dues for twenty-four years to UAW Local 600 ("Union"), Lloyd Stoner ("Stoner") decided in February 2018 to resign from the Union.1 The Union failed to promptly notify Stoner’s employer, Ford Motor Company ("Ford"), allegedly due to a clerical error. Ford therefore continued to deduct dues from Stoner’s paycheck for two months and remit them to the Union. This prompted Stoner to file an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board ("Board"). The Board held that the Union’s failure to promptly process Stoner’s resignation of union membership violated Section 8(b)(1)(a) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 151 – 169 (the "Act"), in two ways: first, by "restraining" Stoner’s right to withdraw from the Union, and, second, by breaching the Union’s duty of "fair representation." The Union has filed a petition for review of that decision, and the Board has filed a cross-application for enforcement.


The Union represents a bargaining unit of employees at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan facility. Ford is authorized by the parties’ collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") to withhold union membership dues and transmit them to the union if an employee joins the union and signs a dues

956 F.3d 348

checkoff authorization form. Resignation of union membership does not extinguish the dues checkoff authorization; the CBA requires the employee to revoke a checkoff authorization within a specified window, although it is undisputed that the Union did not enforce those restrictions. To resign union membership, a bargaining unit employee is required to send a signed letter to the Union’s financial secretary, Mark DePaoli ("DePaoli"). DePaoli would then notify Ford’s human resources manager at the Dearborn facility to stop deducting union dues from the employee’s paycheck.

In February 2018, Stoner left DePaoli several voicemail messages notifying him that he wished to resign from the Union and requested a copy of his checkoff authorization card. DePaoli returned Stoner’s phone call and on March 5 emailed the authorization form to Stoner.

On March 9 Stoner sent a letter by certified mail stating that he was resigning from the Union "effective immediately" and revoking his dues checkoff authorization. The Union received Stoner’s letter on March 12. That same day, DePaoli drafted a letter instructing Ford’s human resource manager to stop deducting dues from Stoner’s paycheck (the "notification letter"). However, DePaoli testified that he did not know whether he actually emailed the letter to his secretary for printing on Union letterhead, as was his custom. DePaoli explained that "there was a lot going on" at the time because he was in "some negotiations" and also that he had a temporary secretary.

On March 19 Ford notified Stoner that it would continue deducting dues because it had not received a timely revocation of his checkoff authorization. Ford deducted Stoner’s dues until mid-June. Stoner reacted by filing an unfair labor practice charge with the Board on May 29 alleging that the Union violated the Act by failing to process his resignation and revocation and by continuing to accept dues deducted from his wages.

On June 1 after receiving Stoner’s charge from the Board, DePaoli sent a letter (the one he had drafted on March 12) to Ford telling the company to immediately cease deducting union dues from Stoner’s pay (but DePaoli did not notify Stoner that he had sent the letter). The Union accepted the last of Stoner’s dues on June 4 and 8. It did not return any of the funds, however.

On August 16, DePaoli sent Stoner the following letter:

Based on your recent charges filed through the NLRB, it appears that Ford Motor Company is still deducting union dues from your wages. Unfortunately, we have to wait for the company to send us a report of all the dues deducted each month, and currently we only have records through June. If you had contacted me, as you did so many times in the past when you wanted a copy of your dues check off authorization card, I could’ve resolved the issue by getting copies of your check stubs that show the amount of dues deducted, and I could’ve reimbursed you within a week. This current process takes much longer. Here is what our records show and what I am authorized to reimburse at this time:
 April — $75.25
                 May — $75.25
                 June — $66.75
                 TOTAL — $217.25
Should Ford Motor Company deduct any further dues, you can contact me for prompt reimbursement, or you can continue to contact the NLRB and they will let me know.
956 F.3d 349

DePaoli enclosed a check for $217.25. The amount actually owed was $247.35.

On August 23, the Board’s General Counsel issued an unfair labor practice complaint alleging that the Union violated Section 8(b)(1)(A) when it restrained or coerced Stoner in the exercise of his Section 7 right to refrain from joining or assisting a labor organization by failing to promptly process his resignation and revocation of dues authorization. The Board further alleged that the Union violated Section 8(b)(1)(A) by breaching its duty of fair representation. The complaint also asserted that the Union violated Section 8(b)(2) by causing Ford to deduct Stoner’s dues after he had revoked authorization.

After an evidentiary hearing, an administrative law judge ("ALJ") held that the Union had committed all three violations. First, the ALJ found as a factual matter that DePaoli’s explanation that he forwarded a draft of his March 12 letter to his secretary for printing "was not credible," because "there was no evidence that he emailed his March 12 draft" to the secretary. The ALJ stated that "DePaoli provided a vague and less than credible explanation attributing the delay in responding to Stoner’s resignation to various union activities and staffing issues." Therefore, the ALJ ruled that even if DePaoli’s failure to process the resignation and revocation had been inadvertent, a clerical error is not a defense to a violation of Section 8(b)(1)(A) of the Act, based on the Board’s ruling in Walt Disney Parks & Resorts U.S., Inc. , 366 N.L.R.B. No. 96, slip op. at 2 n.4 (June 20, 2018). The ALJ also found that the Union delayed processing Stoner’s resignation and revocation until after he had filed an unfair labor practice charge, issued only a partial refund, and "excoriated Stoner for exercising his Section 7 rights."

Next, the ALJ held that the Union breached its duty of fair representation to Stoner by "intentionally ignoring Stoner’s resignation for over two and one-half months, and by responding reproachfully after learning that he had filed this unfair labor practice charge." Finally, the ALJ found that DePaoli’s delay violated Section 8(b)(2) of the Act based on "the reasonable inference [DePaoli] drafted the applicable notification to Ford and then decided to sit on it for a while."

For the reasons stated by the ALJ, the Board agreed that the Union’s "failure to promptly process Stoner’s resignation of union membership and revocation of dues checkoff authorization coerced Stoner, and constituted a breach of its duty of fair representation, in violation of Sec. 8(b)(1)(A) of the Act." It reversed the ALJ’s Section 8(b)(2) ruling because the Union’s inaction was not an "affirmative act" as required by that section. The Board ordered the Union to: (1) honor Stoner’s resignation request and revoke his dues checkoff authorization; (2) reimburse Stoner for the improperly deducted dues with interest; (3) give the Board the records relevant to the backpay due Stoner; and (4) provide notice to all union members at Ford’s Dearborn facility.

The Union has filed a petition for review. The Board has filed a cross-application to enforce its decision and order. Charging Party Stoner intervened in support of the Board’s decision.


The Board’s interpretation of the Act is entitled to deference. Painting Co. v. NLRB , 298 F.3d 492, 499 (6th Cir. 2002). "The Board’s construction of the Act is permissible where it does not ‘exceed the reach’ of the Act." Meijer, Inc. v. NLRB , 463 F.3d 534, 539 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc. , 420 U.S. 251, 266–67, 95 S.Ct. 959, 43 L.Ed.2d 171 (1975) ). "The judicial role is narrow: The

956 F.3d 350

rule which the Board adopts is judicially reviewable for consistency with...

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