Deferral and the Dissident

I discuss two examples involving a dissident group, Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), that vividly illustrate the problems with NLRB deferral. I then examine the development and evolution of the NLRB’s policies concerning deferral to arbitration. Next, I review the statutory- and policy-based arguments advanced for and against deferral. I attempt to assess the best reasons given for the deferral doctrine, while showing why, at least in its current incarnation, NLRB deferral doctrine is contrary to the requirements of the NLRA. More specifically, I show that, to the extent that deferral has some legitimate basis, it is founded on assumptions that cannot readily be applied to some grievance procedures, particularly the Teamster joint committee process. Finally, I examine the joint committees in detail and explain why the NLRB has erred in extending deferral doctrine to the proceedings and decisions of these bodies.