Union Tells ninth Circ. Grocer Hazard-Pay Legislation Passes Muster

“href =” https://www.law360.com/employment-authority/articles/1376537/# “> Tim Ryan ·

Federal Labor Act doesn’t prevent the city of Long Beach, California from obliging certain grocery stores to pay a hazard premium during the COVID-19 pandemic, a food union told the Ninth Circle, defending the ordinance against a food association challenge.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 324 filing filed on Friday urged the Ninth Circle to maintain a lower court Decision that denied the California Grocers Association’s call for an injunction against the ordinance requiring certain grocery stores in the city to temporarily pay a pandemic premium of $ 4 an hour for workers. The union argued that the rule is not precluded by federal labor law as it is merely a background requirement that employers and unions must negotiate, not a disruption to the collective bargaining process.

“Federal labor law does not prevent the state’s substantive employment standards, as these standards do not regulate the collective bargaining process [National Labor Relation Act]Topic, “argued Local 324.

Like other cities on the west coast, Long Beach passed an ordinance in January requiring grocery stores that meet certain conditions to give their workers a temporary raise during the ongoing pandemic. CGA sued to block Enforcement of ordinance the day after city enactment and similar action against other actions taken across California.

A federal judge denied the CGA’s motion for restraining order, saying it was unlikely to succeed in the argument that the ordinance was excluded from federal labor law and violated the equality clauses in the U.S. and California constitutions. Local 324 intervened in the case to defend the ordinance alongside Long Beach.

CGA argued that Ordinance is excluded under a doctrine known as machinist preference. The name comes from the US Supreme Court ruling in 1976 International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers v Wisconsin Employment Relations CommissionThe doctrine states that state laws regulating collective bargaining are excluded under the NLRA.

According to Local 324, the CGA’s argument “misunderstood” the machinist doctrine that enables state and local governments to enact minimum labor standards. The union likened the ordinance to the general rule in California that workers are employed at will, calling it a background principle for collective bargaining.

The union also urged the Ninth Circle to reject the CGA’s argument that ongoing negotiations between one of its members and Local 324 mean that the regulation is ruled out because it disrupts negotiations. The Supreme Court has already examined and rejected this argument, argued Local 324, including in a 1987 case named Fort Halifax Packing Company v. Coyne , which upheld a severance payment law in Maine.

In addition, Local 324 said the CGA’s argument against a provision in the regulation preventing employers from cutting employee compensation to offset the risk payment was unfounded. The union likened the requirement to other California regulations the courts were following, including the state’s prohibition on workers adjusting workers’ wages for regularly scheduled hours to compensate for their overtime obligations.

Even if the CGA was correct and the court found that the wage shifting ban was ruled out, Local 324 argued that the entire regulation need not fall.

According to Local 324, the CGA’s constitutional arguments were unfounded as the Supreme Court has stated for years that employers have no right to contract without government regulation. Accepting the federation’s argument, Local 324 said, would allow companies to evade minimum wage, overtime and other popular regulations by “entering into contracts”.

In addition, the union said the CGA failed under the standards for obtaining an injunction in federal court, particularly on the grounds that the association could not prove that any of its members were exposed to irreparable harm from the ordinance. Local 324 said while two CGA member stores closed after the rule went into effect, they had issues long before the regulation and couldn’t blame it for their deaths.

Long Beach filed its own brief on Friday, making similar arguments as to why the NLRA does not exclude the requirement. The city also argued that the ordinance is the type of law that falls under the states’ long-recognized police powers, citing the Fort Halifax case.

The union, city and CGA attorney did not immediately return requests for comment. Neither party immediately responded even to requests for comment.

The California Grocers Association is represented by James Sigel, Tritia Murata, Byung-Kwan Park, Robert Sandoval and William Tarantino from Morrison & Foerster LLP.

Long Beach City is represented by Christopher Pisano from Best Best & Krieger LLP.

Local 324 is represented by Paul More of Davis Cowell & Bowe.

The case is California Grocers Association v City of Long Beach et al., Case number 21-55174, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

– Arrangement by Vincent Sherry.

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