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Board finds Texas scaffolding company unlawfully fired striking workers

The National Labor Relations Board has found that a Texas scaffolding contractor unlawfully discharged 77 employees in retaliation for their participation in a peaceful work stoppage. 

In 2008, Atlantic Scaffolding Company contracted with ExxonMobil Oil Refining and Supply Corporation to provide scaffolding work during a “turnaround” at an oil refinery in Beaumont, Texas.  During a turnaround, processing units are shut down to undergo inspection and maintenance. 

On the first day of the turnaround, approximately 100 employees of Atlantic Scaffolding Company engaged in a concerted work stoppage inside the refinery and presented a letter to their managers requesting, among other things, an increase in pay and per diem rate.  The employees refused to return to work until their demands were addressed.  

Refinery officials asked the employees to move to the parking lot, and they complied.  Once in the parking lot, the employees continued to press their demands with Atlantic Scaffolding Company officials.  After an hour, refinery officials asked the employees to leave the parking lot.  The employees moved to a nearby vacant lot, and they later moved again at the request of refinery security officials. 

Two days later, Atlantic Scaffolding Company issued separation notices to 77 of the employees stating that they were discharged for job abandonment. 

On March 18, 2011, the Board determined that Atlantic Scaffolding Company unlawfully discharged the 77 employees.  Specifically, the Board noted that “the work stoppage was peaceful at all times” and the employees never attempted “to deny anyone access to the property, and they promptly complied with every request to move their protest elsewhere.”  Atlantic Scaffolding filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied by the Board on June 30, 2011. 

The case was investigated by Region 16 of the National Labor Relations Board based on an unfair labor practice charge filed with the Houston Resident Office.  The trial attorney on behalf of the Acting General Counsel was Field Attorney Jamal Allen.

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