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SCOTUS accepts Indiana steel plant case

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The nation's highest court has agreed to take on a labor dispute issue involving a northern Indiana steel plant. The high court will consider whether the National Labor Relations Act allows the governing board to act when only two of its five positions are present to vote on labor disputes.

At its private conference late last week, justices granted certiorari in the case of New Process Steel, L.P. v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 08-1457, which comes from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago following a National Labor Relations Board ruling.

In its May 1 ruling, the 7th Circuit affirmed the national board's decision that a steel company in Butler must recognize a collective-bargaining agreement between the company and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO.

After a voting dispute about the agreement, an administrative law judge found the company had to accept the union contract; the National Labor Relations Board agreed. But a key issue arose because the NLRB had only two of five board seats filled to vote on the issue at the time. Statute allows a smaller, three-member panel to have authority to rule on issues and allows for two members to constitute a quorum if the third person isn't available. That's what happened in this case.

Deciding the two-person vote was legitimate, the 7th Circuit noted that the issue is one pending in several Circuits throughout the country. The plain meaning of the statute supports the board's delegation procedure and it had authority to hear the labor dispute in this case and to issue orders regarding the unfair labor practices claim and New Process' withdrawal of recognition of the union, authoring Judge Joel Flaum wrote.

In a petition for writ of certiorari, attorneys for New Process Steel asked the justices to accept transfer and side with a decision from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Laurel Baye Healthcare of Lake Lanier v. NLRB, No. 08-1162, which held the national act explicitly requires the board to have three members "at all times" in order to function.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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