By Mark A. Salzberg and Jill S. Kirila of Squire Patton Boggs
The Bankruptcy Code prohibits a debtor from unilaterally rejecting a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Instead, in order for a debtor employer to be able to reject a CBA, the debtor must comply with the procedural and substantive requirements of Sec. 1113 of the Bankruptcy Code and then obtain authority from the Bankruptcy Court. What is less clear is whether Sec. 1113 applies to a CBA that has already expired by its own terms. This is a crucial question since, under the National Labor Relations Act, an employer cannot unilaterally change the terms and conditions of a CBA even after its expiration. Instead, the employer must continue to perform in accordance with the expired CBA until a new CBA is negotiated or an impasse is reached.
Earlier this year, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals became the first circuit level court to address the question of whether Sec. 1113 is applicable to an already-expired CBA. The Court ruled in favor of the employer, Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc., and held that Sec. 1113 applied to expired CBAs and that Trump Entertainment could reject the CBA because it had complied with the requirements of Sec. 1113. This ruling is certain to have a significant effect on labor issues arising in Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases.
The full memo is available here: Third Circuit holds Sec. 1113 of the Bankruptcy Code applicable to already-expired CBAs