Country Ford Trucks v. Nat'l Labor Bd., AFL-CI

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Writing for the CourtSentelle
Citation229 F.3d 1184
Parties(D.C. Cir. 2000) Country Ford Trucks, Inc.,Petitioner v. National Labor Relations Board, Respondent International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers,ocal 1528,Machinists District Lodgentervenor
Docket NumberNo. 190,No. 99-1529,L,AFL-CI
Decision Date27 October 2000

Page 1184

229 F.3d 1184 (D.C. Cir. 2000)
Country Ford Trucks, Inc.,Petitioner
v.
National Labor Relations Board, Respondent
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, Local 1528,Machinists District Lodge No. 190,Intervenor
No. 99-1529
United States Court of Appeals FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
Argued October 5, 2000
Decided October 27, 2000

Page 1185

Copyrighted Material Omitted

Page 1186

On Petition for Review and Cross-Application for Enforcement of an Order of the National Labor Relations Board

Michael K. Perkins argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs was Ned A. Fine. Michael C. Towers entered an appearance.

Steven B. Goldstein, Attorney, National Labor Relations Board, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Leonard R. Page, General Counsel, Linda Sher, Associate General Counsel, Aileen A. Armstrong, Deputy Associate General Counsel, and Fred L. Cornnell, Jr., Supervisory Attorney.

David A. Rosenfeld was on the brief for intervenor International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, Local No. 1528, District Lodge No. 190.

Before: Ginsburg, Sentelle and Henderson, Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge Sentelle.

Sentelle, Circuit Judge:

Country Ford Trucks, Inc. petitions for review of a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB" or "the Board") that petitioner violated section 8(a)(5) and (1) of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 158(a)(5), (1) (1994), by refusing to bargain with or provide requested information to a certified union. Country Ford challenges primarily the Board's determination that a collective bargaining unit consisting of service technicians and lube workers at one of its facilities was appropriate under section 9 of the NLRA, 29 U.S.C. § 159 (1994). Because petitioner fails to demonstrate that NLRB abused its discretion in making the unit determination, and because there are no grounds upon which petitioner could rightfully refuse to provide the union with the requested information, we affirm the NLRB.

Page 1187

I. Background

A.

Country Ford Trucks, Inc. ("Country Ford") is a truck dealership in Ceres, California that sells, modifies, and services light-duty and heavy-duty trucks. Country Ford operates two facilities. The main facility, referred to as the "Old Building," is the primary location for sales and service of trucks. The second, known as the "Annex," is across the street and operates under the name of Ceres Truck Equipment. Country Ford opened the Annex approximately two years ago because the Old Building was not large enough to accommodate Country Ford's expanding business. Since that time, the Annex has specialized in servicing, equipping, and modifying trucks. The central issue in dispute is whether an appropriate collective bargaining unit under the NLRA may consist of selected employees with defined functions at one of the two facilities.

At the main facility, the service department consists of several service advisors who deal with customers seeking truck service, approximately fourteen service technicians who diagnose and repair trucks, and two lube workers who perform lubes, oil and filter changes, and the like, as well as detailers, shuttle drivers, a booker, cashier, and janitor. The parts department consists of approximately thirteen employees who service retail customers, obtain parts for repairs and pick up, and deliver warehouse parts. At the main facility employees work in one of two shifts: 7:00am to 4:00pm and 3:30pm to midnight.

The service technicians at the main facility work either day or evening shifts. They are the employees primarily responsible for the actual servicing and repair of customer vehicles. Several are certified by Ford or Automotive Service Excellence ("ASE"), and at least two are master mechanics. Service technicians are paid an hourly wage, receive commissions based upon their efficiency and can receive "up sell commissions" for additional work authorized by a customer that was recommended by a technician. Unlike other workers at the main facility, service technicians are required to provide their own tools, which can be worth between $750 and $30,000.The technicians wear blue uniforms with a red stripe and Ford logo. The company holds regular meetings for service technicians at 3:30pm.

The lube workers also work either day or evening shifts. The lube workers work alongside the service technicians and are primarily responsible for oil and filter changes, lubes, and basic service, such as installing truck hitches. The lube workers are not certified, and the company does not offer any sort of apprenticeship program. Nonetheless, lube workers occasionally assist the service technicians with repairs, and will help align transmissions or replace clutches. Lube workers are paid hourly. One lube worker owns his own tools, the other does not. The lube workers and the service technicians report to the same supervisor.

At the Annex there are several installer/fabricators, a parts employee, and an estimator. The installer/fabricators are technically part of Country Ford's service department. The Annex employees are primarily responsible for installing custom beds and other features on trucks sold by Country Ford and those brought in for service or other work. Sometimes work will be performed on the same truck at both locations, as when modifications are made to trucks bought at the main location-and some of the work performed at the Annex, such as air conditioner and hitch installation, and transmission and brake work is also performed at the main facility.

Installer/fabricators employed at the Annex must be able to weld and are administered a welding test prior to employment. Like the service technicians, the installer/fabricators are required to provide their own tools. There is only one shift at the Annex, however, and Annex

Page 1188

workers have a separate supervisor than the service department employees. Annex employees have a different uniform and are paid an hourly wage without any commission or bonuses.

Country Ford employs one human resources manager for both facilities. Country Ford's Parts and Service Director also interviews all applicants for either facility. Employees at both facilities are on the same payroll and have the same vacation and benefit policies, as well as use the same break room (though there is an additional break room in the Annex). Employees are rarely transferred from one facility to the other. All Country Ford employees attend occasional safety meetings and company functions.

B.

On April 27, 1999, Machinists District Lodge No. 190, Local 1528 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers ("the Union") filed an election petition with the NLRB Regional Director. The Union sought to represent a unit of employees at Country Ford Trucks consisting of "All Journeyman and Apprentice Technicians and Lubricators." After conducting a hearing, the NLRB's Regional Director for Region 32 accepted the Union's petition and, on June 16, 1999, directed an election of:

All full-time and regular part-time service technicians and lubricators employed by [Country Ford Trucks] at its Ceres, California location excluding all other employees, office clerical employees, guards, and supervisors as defined in the Act.

The Regional Director found that 16 employees at Country Ford Trucks met this definition. Country Ford filed a Request for Review with the NLRB, which was denied. One Board member, Peter Hurtgen, noted that the Regional Director's conclusion may be in tension with prior NLRB precedent, but nonetheless concurred because Country Ford failed to contest the Regional Director's findings.

An election was held on July 13, 1999. The Union won by a vote of 9 to 7 and was certified on July 29. Upon certification, the Union requested collective bargaining with Country Ford and submitted a request for information "for the purposes of bargaining." Among other things, the Union requested a list of current employees, with their date of hire, job classification and pay rate, details on Country Ford's benefit plans and employment policies, and shift schedules. Country Ford responded with a letter refusing to bargain or supply the requested information on the grounds that the company would be challenging the unit determination in federal court.

On September 1, 1999, the Union filed a complaint alleging that petitioner's refusal to bargain and to supply the requested information were unfair labor practices. Country Ford acknowledged its refusal to bargain and maintained that the information request should not be dealt with until the validity of the bargaining unit was determined. Country Ford further complained that the Union failed to explain the requested information's relevance to its representation of the bargaining unit and that the request was over broad in that it was not...

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32 practice notes
  • Brewers and Maltsters, Local No. 6 v. N.L.R.B., No. 04-1278.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 5, 2005
    ...has held that the "the threshold for relevance is low," DaimlerChrysler, 288 F.3d at 443 (quoting Country Ford Trucks, Inc. v. NLRB, 229 F.3d 1184, 1191 (D.C.Cir.2000)) (internal quotation marks omitted), such that "[t]he fact that the information is of probable or potential relevance is su......
  • Crozer-Chester Med. Ctr. v. Nat'l Labor Relations Bd., Nos. 18-1640
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • September 24, 2020
    ...(D.C. Cir. 1983) (alteration in original) (quoting Acme Indus., 385 U.S. at 437, 87 S.Ct. 565 ); see Country Ford Trucks, Inc. v. NLRB, 229 F.3d 1184, 1191 (D.C. Cir. 2000) ("[T]he threshold for relevance is low."). This undemanding standard of relevance is necessary because "[u]nless each ......
  • Kindred Nursing Ctrs. E., LLC v. Nat'l Labor Relations Bd., Nos. 12–1027
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • August 15, 2013
    ...bargaining unit logically can be defined in any particular factual setting.’ ” Id. at 421 (quoting Country Ford Trucks, Inc. v. N.L.R.B., 229 F.3d 1184, 1189 (D.C.Cir.2000)). Rather, the employer's burden is to show that the prima facie unit is truly inappropriate. Id. (citing Country Ford ......
  • FedEx Freight, Inc. v. Nat'l Labor Relations Bd., Nos. 15–1848
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • March 7, 2016
    ...burden is to show the prima facie appropriate unit is "truly inappropriate."Id. at 421 (quoting Country Ford Trucks, Inc. v. NLRB, 229 F.3d 1184, 1189 (D.C.Cir.2000) ) (citation omitted).A unit is truly inappropriate "if, for example, there is no legitimate basis upon which to exclude certa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
33 cases
  • Brewers and Maltsters, Local No. 6 v. N.L.R.B., No. 04-1278.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 5, 2005
    ...has held that the "the threshold for relevance is low," DaimlerChrysler, 288 F.3d at 443 (quoting Country Ford Trucks, Inc. v. NLRB, 229 F.3d 1184, 1191 (D.C.Cir.2000)) (internal quotation marks omitted), such that "[t]he fact that the information is of probable or potential relevance is su......
  • Crozer-Chester Med. Ctr. v. Nat'l Labor Relations Bd., Nos. 18-1640
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • September 24, 2020
    ...(D.C. Cir. 1983) (alteration in original) (quoting Acme Indus., 385 U.S. at 437, 87 S.Ct. 565 ); see Country Ford Trucks, Inc. v. NLRB, 229 F.3d 1184, 1191 (D.C. Cir. 2000) ("[T]he threshold for relevance is low."). This undemanding standard of relevance is necessary because "[u]nless each ......
  • Kindred Nursing Ctrs. E., LLC v. Nat'l Labor Relations Bd., Nos. 12–1027
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • August 15, 2013
    ...bargaining unit logically can be defined in any particular factual setting.’ ” Id. at 421 (quoting Country Ford Trucks, Inc. v. N.L.R.B., 229 F.3d 1184, 1189 (D.C.Cir.2000)). Rather, the employer's burden is to show that the prima facie unit is truly inappropriate. Id. (citing Country Ford ......
  • FedEx Freight, Inc. v. Nat'l Labor Relations Bd., Nos. 15–1848
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • March 7, 2016
    ...burden is to show the prima facie appropriate unit is "truly inappropriate."Id. at 421 (quoting Country Ford Trucks, Inc. v. NLRB, 229 F.3d 1184, 1189 (D.C.Cir.2000) ) (citation omitted).A unit is truly inappropriate "if, for example, there is no legitimate basis upon which to exclude certa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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