Justia Aerospace/Defense Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
The case involves Strategic Technology Institute, Inc. ("STI") and the National Labor Relations Board. STI had a contract to maintain engines and propellers for the U.S. Air Force from August 2017 until July 2020. During this time, STI's employees at a Little Rock facility began discussing unionizing. In response to this, Tyler Boyd of STI fired 17 employees — three on September 27, 2019, and fourteen on October 9, 2019. The administrative law judge and the Board found that these terminations violated subsections 8(a)(1) and (3) of the National Labor Relations Act, which prohibits employers from interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in their right to engage in union activities and from discriminating in regard to hire or tenure of employment to encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization.STI petitioned for a review of the Board's order, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit granted the petition, vacated the order, and remanded the case. The court found that there was no substantial evidence to support the Board's finding that the terminations were motivated by anti-union animus. The court noted that the only evidence of STI's knowledge of the union activities were two phone calls informing Tyler Boyd that the employees were considering unionizing and the timing of the firings. The court held that this was not sufficient to establish that STI acted with an anti-union motive when it terminated the employees. The court also found that the Board's reliance on the "small plant doctrine" to infer employer knowledge of union activity was not applicable in this case since there was no other evidence indicating a likelihood that Boyd knew of the union activities. Furthermore, the court held that the Board erred in finding that STI's reasons for the firings were pretextual because they were based on legitimate factors such as performance, attendance, and interpersonal skills. The court concluded that the General Counsel failed to meet its burden of providing substantial evidence that STI harbored anti-union animus and that the terminations were motivated by animus. Consequently, the court vacated the Board's order and remanded the case for proceedings consistent with its opinion. View "Strategic Technology Institute v. NLRB" on Justia Law