At the request of the National Labor Relations Board, a U.S. District Judge this week ordered a San Jose area waste hauling company to offer reinstatement to two drivers and restore full assignments to other drivers who had expressed support for a union during an organizing campaign.
In issuing the temporary injunction May 17, Judge Jeremy Fogel of the U.S. District Court in San Jose said the NLRB’s Office of General Counsel was likely to win its case against the company, OS Transport LLC, and that the employees would experience irreparable harm if an order did not issue immediately.
The decision stated that the agency “has made a substantial showing that (the company) engaged in serious unfair labor practices, including the termination of a lead organizer and another Union supporter, retaliation against Union efforts in the form of unfavorable assignments, threats to Union supporters, and promises of improved treatment of employees who disavow the Union. These actions appear calculated to chill the employees’ rights to the point that the organizing campaign could be defeated before the Board issues its final determination.”
The dispute began in January 2010, when drivers were told they must incorporate as individual corporate entities in order to continue working. The drivers, who spoke primarily Spanish, were later told to sign incorporation applications filled out in English, or risk being fired. During this period, some drivers contacted the Teamsters Union, Local 350, and signed a joint letter of protest to the company. The union supporters were reassigned to less lucrative routes, and two were later fired.
The union filed charges with the NLRB Regional Office in Oakland and, following investigations, complaints were issued in December 2010 and February 2011 alleging multiple violations of federal labor law. The case was heard by an administrative law judge early this year, but a decision has not yet issued.
Under the injunction, the company owner must read the full order to employees in English and Spanish, or be present when the full order is read by an agent of the NLRB. In addition, the company must provide full names and addresses of employees to union representatives.