Teamsters and California Hauling Company Reach Settlement through NLRB – Back Wages and New Bargaining Agreement Result
May 12, 2014 by John C. Provost
A three-year effort by the employees of an aggregate-hauling company in Marysville, California and by Teamsters Local 137 to represent those employees ended in success last week with a settlement spearheaded by Region 20 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Beeson, Tayer & Bodine (BT&B) represented Teamsters Local 137 in the NLRB matters. With over 75 years of experience in both public and private labor law, BT&B provides a summary of the settlement in this contentious case that began in 2011.
The upshot of the settlement is that Dispatch Transportation, the operating name for Commodity Trucking Acquisition, LLC, is paying $262,000 in back pay to the former employees of the predecessor to Dispatch, Valley Aggregate Transport, Inc. Even better, perhaps, is that Dispatch has entered into a three-year collective bargaining agreement with Local 137 that includes a generous wage and benefit package in line with what other Union contractors provide in the industry.
The saga started in 2011 when the drivers of Valley Aggregate contacted Local 137 about representation. The Union won an election by a wide margin and was certified by the NLRB in June 2011. For the next eight months, Valley Aggregate engaged in a campaign of evasion and falsehoods to avoid negotiating with the Union. It first said that it was going to be closing the facility and laying its employees off in September 2011. However, September came and went and there were no layoffs. The company said the closure and layoff had simply been delayed until January 2012, but that month came and went and still nothing changed.
The Union filed unfair labor practice (ULP) charges. Valley Aggregate then agreed to dates in March 2012 to commence bargaining, but it later cancelled at the last minute. It then announced that it was selling its assets to Dispatch Transportation. A news release dated April 27, 2012 announced the sale and described the transaction as constituting a takeover by Dispatch of a “turnkey” operation.
Local 137 encouraged all of the Valley Aggregate employees to apply for work with Dispatch and to be open about their Union sympathies. Although Dispatch hired close to 80 drivers, only a handful came from the ranks of Valley Aggregate. Local 137 then filed new unfair practice charges against Dispatch, alleging that it had discriminated against the former Valley Aggregate employees because of their efforts to obtain Union representation.
The NLRB issued a complaint on the charge and was prepared to take Dispatch to trial. However, Dispatch reached out to Local 137 to try to settle the dispute. It said it would agree to pay some back pay to the employees of its predecessor, hire employees for the 2013 season from their ranks by seniority, and bargain for a collective bargaining agreement with the Union. The Union agreed to conditionally withdraw its charge pending the payment of the back pay, the hiring of the employees, and the negotiation of a CBA. Amazingly, Dispatch hired very few of the Valley Aggregate employees, paid no back pay, and only went through the motions of negotiating a contract.
Accordingly, the Union reinstated its ULP charge in June 2013 and added a new charge with regard to the company reneging on the negotiated settlement. The NLRB issued a complaint and was moving the case to trial in April 2014. By that time, however, new leadership at Dispatch decided it was time to get serious about resolving its issues with the Union.
This time, the company president met with the leadership of Local 137 and hammered out a legitimate and appropriate CBA. It agreed with the Union to a seniority list that included all of the former Valley Aggregate employees who had applied with Dispatch, giving them first priority for dispatch going forward. In addition, it agreed to a substantial amount of back pay — $262,000 — to the discriminatees. Teamsters Local 137 Principal Office David Hawley notes “This victory would not have possible without the cooperation and tenacity of a core group of Drivers that worked with the Local and the NLRB during this long struggle” Although it took three years, these employees finally did obtain justice.
BT&B is pleased to represent unions and employees such as those referenced by Mr. Hawley. The experienced labor law attorneys of BT&B in Sacramento and Oakland continue to be available to work with those seeking union representation or those fighting unfair labor practices.
More information regarding this Teamster win: http://www.teamsters137.com/index.cfm?zone=/unionactive/view_article.cfm&HomeID=423503
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