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NLRB Sides with Comcast in Oakland

The National Labor Relations Board wants the city of Oakland, Calif., to explain how a union-related ordinance, opposed by Comcast Corp., serves the public interest and does not attempt to pre-empt the federal agency's authority.

In a letter to the city, dated April 12, Eric Moskowitz, assistant general counsel for special litigation for the NLRB, stated that officials of the agency have "serious concerns" that the local ordinance conflicts with rights and obligations of the NLRB. The letter, to the Oakland City Attorney, asks for an explanation of the city's justification for the ordinance.

Earlier this year, the San Francisco Bay-area city passed an ordinance requiring franchisees that provide "significant ongoing revenue" to agree to unionization via a card-check proceeding. Instead of a full election cycle, pro-union workers could create a union shop if a majority signs cards indicating that they support representation.

Comcast officials believe they were the specific target of the legislation. After it passed in February, the operator took a multimillion-dollar refranchising agreement off the table and filed suit against the city over the unionizing ordinance.

The NLRB has given the city until May 5 to respond.