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Modern Day Yellow Dog Contracts??

Publication Date: 
August 31, 2009
Adjunct Law Prof Blog
Mitchell H. Rubinstein

Professor Emeritus William Gould, an expert in labor and employment law, is mentioned in this blog post. He has commented that Regis Corporation's recent attempt to nullify employees' support for unionization is similar to outlawed yellow dog contracts:

NY Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse wrote an excellent August 29, 2009 article revealing the practice of Regis Corporation that is apparently encouraging employees, but not requiring them, to sign a document agreeing to insist on a union election. “In order to preserve my right to a secret-ballot election, and for my own protection, I knowingly and without restraint and free from coercion sign this agreement revoking and nullifying any union authorization card I may execute in the future.” Jeff Hirsch over at workplace prof blog believes that this is a violation of 8(a)(1) and the article quotes Stanford Law Prof Gould has indicating that this practice is very close to the infamous yellow dog contracts which have long been outlawed.

Though my gut tells me that Jeff is probably right, I am not so sure. Yellow dog contracts required employees agree not to join a union in advance. Here, the employees are only agreeing in advance to insist on a union election. The employees can still vote their conscience. Of course, any employer implicit threats may interfere with employee free choice. But if the employee is truly signing this card on his own, does that interfere with the laboratory conditions necessary for their to be a free and fair election?