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Federal judge orders Central Coast landscaper to rehire employees, bargain with union

A U.S. District Court judge has ordered Jason Lopez’s Planet Earth, a landscaping company based in Nipomo, California, to offer interim reinstatement to two employees who were laid-off after seeking to organize a union, filing complaints, and offering testimony to the National Labor Relations Board.

In issuing the temporary injunction, Judge R. Gary Klausner of the Central District of California also ordered the employer to bargain with the Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition, and refrain from threatening, interrogating or otherwise interfering with employees in response to their activity on behalf of the union.

Based on the employer’s repeated delay in paying wages, the employees began a campaign to organize their facility in January 2010.  The Union filed a representation petition with Region 31 in May 2010.  On September 17, 2010, the Board conducted the representation election, which the Union won.  Immediately after the election, the employer discharged the main Union proponent.  On the following Monday, the employer laid-off the second employee. 

Following an investigation, the region issued a complaint alleging that the employer refused to bargain with the Union and laid-off, interrogated, threatened, promised benefits, and granted benefits in response to the Union organizing campaign. The underlying case was recently heard by NLRB Administrative Law Judge Gerald Etchingham, whose decision is now pending. The federal order will remain in place until the Board’s administrative processes are complete.

Attorney Juan Carlos Ochoa Diaz, along with Regional Attorney Mori Rubin and Deputy Regional Attorney Brian Gee, litigated the case on behalf of Petitioner James J. McDermott, Regional Director, on behalf of the National Labor Relations Board.

 

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