United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
November 19, 2015.
Petition for Review and Cross-Application for Enforcement of
an Order of the National Labor Relations Board.
E. Eastland argued the cause for the petitioner. William H.
Fallon was with him on brief.
L. von Wilpert, Attorney, National Labor Relations Board,
argued the cause for the respondent. Richard F. Griffin, Jr.,
General Counsel, John H. Ferguson, Associate General Counsel,
Linda Dreeben, Deputy Associate General Counsel, and Kira
Dellinger, Supervisory Attorney were with her on brief.
HENDERSON, PILLARD and WILKINS, Circuit Judges.
LECRAFT HENDERSON, Circuit Judge
two-to-one decision, the National Labor Relations Board
(Board) held that Dover Energy, Inc., Blackmer Division
(Blackmer) committed an unfair labor practice when it warned
one of its employees, Tom Kaanta, to stop submitting "
frivolous" information requests that his union, the
United Auto Workers Union, Local 828 (Union), had not
authorized. Because the record--viewed with the deference due
the Board--lacks substantial evidence in support of the
Board's decision, we grant Blackmer's petition and
deny the Board's cross-application for enforcement.
is a Michigan industrial-pump manufacturer. For decades,
Blackmer had a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the
Union. To monitor adherence to the CBA on a day-to-day basis,
the Union elected certain Blackmer employees to serve as
stewards, who acted as liaisons between the Union and
Blackmer and were responsible for investigating and settling
the summer of 2012, Blackmer and the Union began to negotiate
a new contract to replace the then-current CBA, which was set
to expire in September 2012. John Kaminski (Kaminski),
Blackmer's Director of Human Resources, served as the
company's lead negotiator. A bargaining committee
consisting of Union president Dennis Raymond (Raymond) and
several other Union representatives conducted negotiations on
behalf of the Union.
Tom Kaanta. Kaanta, a long-time Blackmer employee with past
service as a Union steward, was elected in June 2012 to serve
again as a steward, representing skilled-services employees
on the second shift--a group of four employees. Notably,
Kaanta was not a member of the Union bargaining committee and
did not participate in any CBA negotiations.
negotiations progressed, Kaanta apparently grew suspicious
that members of the Union bargaining committee had conflicts
of interest that could compromise their ability to
effectively represent Union members at the negotiating table.
Thus, on June 12, 2012, Kaanta submitted a handwritten "
Information Request" to Kaminski. The request read:
I[,] Tom Kaanta, steward of Local 828 request any and all
financial information (names, dates, amounts, etc.)
pertaining to any and all financial relationships outside the
collective bargaining agreement (employee/subcontractors,
employee liasions to subcontractors, employee/company
investigators, monies, benefits, gifts, side deals, etc.)
between Blackmer PSG (Dover) and Local 828 members, reps,
pensioners, spouses, and immediate children. I request this
information for the purpose of future bargaining.
Deferred Appendix (D.A.) 91 (errors in original).
receiving the request, Kaminski contacted Raymond to
determine if the Union had authorized Kaanta's inquiry.
Raymond told Kaminski that the Union had not authorized the
request and that the request was not within the scope of
Kaanta's role as Union steward. On June 19, 2012,
Kaminski sent Kaanta a letter denying his request. The letter
stated that " [a]ny requests must be processed through
the normal bargaining committee process . . . . You are not
part of the negotiation committee and ...