The “request for information” has always been a powerful tool in collective bargaining, whether as leverage in contract negotiations, related to the processing of grievances or during everyday interactions between unions and employers. Perhaps as a result of recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decisions, requests for information are being employed in a more aggressive, and more importantly, more tactical way.
The duty to provide a union with information arises when an affirmative request is made, but many employers have misconceptions about what they must provide. A union may request information related to a specific issue, concern or grievance, but it also may seek information to determine whether an employer is complying with the parties’ collective bargaining agreement or applicable laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act, Occupational Safety and Health Administration or the Fair Labor Standards Act. It is not necessary for there to be an open or active grievance; depending on what a union demands, an employer could be obligated to provide information to permit the union to investigate and determine whether to file a grievance.