The National Labor Relations Board recently held in Bath Iron Works, 345 NLRB No. 33 (Aug. 27, 2005), that an employer did not violate the National Labor Relations Act by merging its pension plan into the larger pension plan of its corporate parent without the consent of the three affected unions. The board reasoned that under a reasonable interpretation of the collective bargaining agreements and the plan documents, the employer had the authority to implement the merger without the unions’ consent. It rejected the contention that the merger was unlawful because the unions had not “clearly and unmistakably waived” their right to bargain over the merger, finding this “clear and unmistakable” standard inappropriate for contract-modification cases.

UNILATERAL CHANGES AND CONTRACT MODIFICATIONS

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