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Minteq International, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

April 28, 2017

Minteq International, Inc. and Specialty Minerals Inc., wholly owned subsidiaries of Mineral Technologies, Inc., Petitioners
v.
National Labor Relations Board, Respondent International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, AFL-CIO, Intervenor

          Argued March 20, 2017

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

          Maurice Baskin argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs were A. John Harper III, Jonathan O. Levine, and Adam P. Tuzzo.

          Eric Weitz, Attorney, National Labor Relations Board, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were John H. Ferguson, Associate General Counsel, Linda Dreeben, Deputy Associate General Counsel, and Robert J. Englehart, Supervisory Attorney.

          Charles R. Kiser argued the cause and filed the brief for intervenor. Brian Powers entered an appearance.

          Before: Garland, Chief Judge, Griffith, Circuit Judge, and Sentelle, Senior Circuit Judge.

          OPINION

          SENTELLE, SENIOR CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         In 2012, employer-petitioner Minteq International, Inc. began requiring new employees to sign a Non-Compete and Confidentiality Agreement. The National Labor Relations Board found that Minteq violated section 8(a)(1) and (5) of the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to afford the employees' union notice or an opportunity to bargain over Minteq's unilateral implementation of the requirement that employees sign the agreement. We deny Minteq's petition for review and enforce the Board's Order.

         I.

         Minteq International, Inc. ("Minteq") sells the application of its proprietary refractory materials for the walls of furnaces used in the steel-making process, among other things. In 2012, Minteq's employees were represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, AFL-CIO and covered by a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA"). The relevant CBA contained a management rights provision stating in part:

Except as expressly modified or restricted by a specific provision of this Agreement, all statutory and inherent managerial rights, prerogatives, and functions are retained and vested exclusively in the Company, including, but not limited to, the rights: . . . to control and regulate the use of machinery, facilities, equipment, and other property of the Company; to introduce new or improved research, production, service, distribution, and maintenance methods, materials, machinery, and equipment; to issue, amend and revise work rules and Standards of Conduct, discipline steps, policies and practices; and to take whatever action is either necessary or advisable to manage and fulfill the mission of the Company and to direct the Company's employees.

         The CBA also states:

An employee who has never accrued seniority under this Agreement or an employee rehired shall be in "probationary" status until completion of six (6) months of employment. . . . The discipline, layoff or discharge of an employee who is in probationary status shall not be a violation of this Agreement.

         Pursuant to the CBA, Minteq can discharge or discipline probationary employees without just cause or recourse to ...


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