Dorsey eUpdate: NLRB Adopts “Contract Coverage” Standard to Apply to an Employer’s Unilateral Changes to Terms and Conditions of Employment


A recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board (the “NLRB” or “Board”) makes it easier for employers to change workplace rules without discussing the change with the union representing their employees.

As employers with unions know, an employer may violate Section 8(a)(5) and (1) of the National Labor Relations Act if it changes certain terms and conditions of employment without first bargaining with the union (called a “unilateral change”). On September 10, 2019, the NLRB adopted the familiar “contract coverage” standard for determining whether an employer’s unilateral change violates the Act. The standard makes it easier for an employer to show that its unilateral changes are within the scope of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement, as explained below.

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