Attorney Jillian Bertrand Gets Question Of Unit-Wide Discrimination By The Town of Acushnet In Front Of State Labor Board

August 08, 2023

On August 4, 2023, the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board (CERB) reversed the findings of an investigator and ordered a hearing on allegations that the Town of Acushnet denied wage increases to an entire bargaining unit of employees in retaliation for their seeking union representation. Pyle Rome attorney Jill Bertrand is handling the case for the union.

When the supervisory and professional employees of the Town of Acushnet filed a petition for representation by written majority authorization (card check) seeking to be represented by the United Steelworkers, the Town engaged in a host of discriminatory and interfering conduct. USW filed a prohibited practice charge, which led to a seven-count Complaint against the Town. However, the Investigator dismissed the allegation that Town discriminated against the entire bargaining unit in retaliation for their union activity because there was no evidence presented as to which employees actually signed union cards. Attorney Bertrand appealed that dismissal to the CERB, which overturned the dismissal and added the retaliation claim to the Complaint.

The CERB noted that the representation process is designed to protect the anonymity of card signers but that it is unnecessary to prove individual employees' union activity in order to make out a case of retaliation against an entire bargaining unit. Rather, as urged by Attorney Bertrand, the CERB determined that there was probable cause to believe that the Town retaliated against the entire group of employees for their collective action in filing for representation and added that allegation to the long list of charges brought against the Town. The case will go to trial next summer.