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Price of postage is not enough for 7th Circuit to review NLRB's ruling

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The cost of a postage stamp was not enough for Beck objectors to request a refund from their unions, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.  

In Douglas Richards, et al. v. National Labor Relations Board and United Steel, et al., 12-1973 & 12-1984, the 7th Circuit dismissed the petitions for review on the grounds that the petitioners did not suffer any injury because of the NLRB’s actions and, therefore they lacked standing to bring the appeal.

The case originated with Douglas Richards, an Indiana resident who worked at Cequent Towing Products in Goshen. He filed an unfair labor practice charge against the United Steel Workers, arguing that the union created an undue burden by requiring employees to annually file Beck objections which excused them from having to pay the fees unrelated to collective bargaining, contract administration or grievance adjustment.

Other union members, Ronald R. Echegaray and David Yost, from Pennsylvania and West Virginia, respectively, joined the suit. Through the NLRB General Counsel, the petitioners urged an end to the annual renewal policies and asked for refunds for all employees who had once objected in the past but failed to renew.
 
In August 2011, the NLRB ruled that the annual renewal policies violated the unions’ duty of fair representations and ordered the annual renewal policies no longer be enforced. It did not, however, address the request for refunds.

The petitioners filed motions for reconsideration. In April 2012, the board denied the motions, ruling that retroactive refunds were inappropriate because the unions had not necessarily been on notice that their annual renewal policies were unlawful.

The charging parties then filed petitions for review with the 7th Circuit.

The court found the petitioners did not suffer any injury-in-fact from the NLRB decisions. They either renewed their objections each year or were not required to renew. When the board ordered the unions to no longer enforce their annual renewal policies, that burden was lifted and the threat was removed.

The petitioners argued that Echegaray and Yost were “aggrieved” because the NLRB failed to order reimbursement for the postage costs that they incurred when they annually mailed their objections.

However, the 7th Circuit maintained it could not rule whether the board abused its discretion in denying relief because the petitioners never made any meaningful request for postage reimbursement. Consequently, the NLRB never had an opportunity to consider a request for that relief.
 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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