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Bloggings: November 28, 2007

by Joel Stewart

Editor's note: Here are the latest entries from Joel Stewart's blog.

November 26, 2007


Whatever Happaned to Rak and Rak?

A colleague contacted me recently to inquire about a BALCA case that he was trying to find. The name of the case is Rak & Rak, Inc. There is a reference to it in another case, and the citation given is Rak and Rak, Inc., 1994-INA-269 (Jul. 26, 1995). My colleague insisted that the decision deals with the requirement of a high grade point average in a Labor Certification Caser. Searching on the internet gave no result. The case can not be found by Google on the Internet. Can it be that the case does not exist?

To pursue this further, I went to the ALJ page (http://www.oalj.dol.gov/libina.htm), which has a search mechanism to find cases. I did find a citation to the case on that page, but only the citation, not the case itself. Moreover, the case name, number and year were not the same as Rak and Rak, Inc. Somehow, the citation to Rak and Rak was entered incorrectly by BALCA. The year and docket number actually belonged to another case, Artcraft Blazers (July 26, 1995). Errors in citations rarely occur, but in this case it was the ALJ who did not cite the case number properly.

Following this, I looked in the docket list of BALCA cases and found that Rak & Rak, Inc. is cited at 94-INA-210, April 28, 1995, however, the ALJ page above gives only citation information but does not have all the decisions available to print out. The page does have all the 'en banc' decisions, and that is a good start, but there are many decisions decided by panels of three judges which do not appear there.

Also on the ALJ page are the cases that were faithfully reproduced by the ILS group in Ohio. ILS undertook the responsibility to obtain all BALCA cases from the ALJ office in Washington and reproduce them in a database that was used by subscribers. ILS operated this service from 1987 when BALCA started until 2000 after the decisions became generally available through the internet.

One should issue that there is also a BALCA deskbook, although it was not kept up-to-date. It is also a selection of decisions chosen by the ALJ's to provide guidance from their point of view. The deskbook should never be used as an exhaustive source of decisions for the preparation of motions to reconsider or appeals to BALCA, since it does not contain all the decisions pro and contra.

The ALJ's maintained their own library in the ALJ office suite which purported to have all the ALJ decisions. Most would have been sent to the ILS company for reproduction. In those days I received copies of the decision to be summarized for AILA, but since they were available in more convenient, searchable form by ILS, I did not maintain a  separate library.

Despite the availability of these resources, finding BALCA cases on-line is no easy task. To research all the decisions, several different internet pages must be used, not just the main ALJ library page mentioned above with the ILS collection, en banc decisions and the BALCA Deskbook. Unfortunatelty, the ALJ law page does not have a direct link to the other DOL pages where the decisions can be found and printed out. The most useful pages are http://www.oalj.dol.gov/DMSSEARCH/TEST.HTM and http://www.oalj.dol.gov/PUBLIC/ARCHITEX/NEWSEARCH.HTM.

If you still do not find the decision, you can visit the ALJ library personally and look through the volumes of BALCA decisions yourself. Even so, this is no guarantee that you will have accessed all the decisions, because it is not a certainty that the ALJ's sent 100% of the decisions there, as was supposed, as the transmission of the decisions depended on the Judges themselves.

The decisions are numbered, so until someone takes stock of all the cases, we cannot be sure where all the cases can be found and whether any are still missing. I will mark my calendar to do this after the New Year. Meanwhile, if you have any problems searching on line, the BALCA ALJ clerks have always been helpful with any aspect of BALCA review, and you could call there for assistance in finding missing cases.