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Regional News: Newcor employees collect nearly $700,000 in backpay after NLRB found company imposed cuts without bargaining with their union

A seven-year odyssey has ended for 34 current and former employees of the manufacturing firm Newcor Bay City, which was found by the National Labor Relations Board to have cut wages and benefits without bargaining with the workers’ union.

As a result of NLRB actions, Newcor in the past two months issued checks to employees and their heirs, as well as to the union’s supplemental unemployment benefit fund, totaling $689,273. Individual payments, including health care reimbursements, ranged from $358 to $122,948, with the average amount being $19,694. The payments represented 100 percent of what was owed. 

The original charge in the case was filed in June 2004 by the United Auto Workers International Union, Local 496.  It alleged that Newcor Bay City in Bay City, Michigan, a division of Newcor, Inc., violated the National Labor Relations Act by implementing its final bargaining offer even though the parties were not at a bona fide impasse. The imposed offer contained cuts to wages and benefits. The company also refused to provide the union with employee data, such as seniority dates and dates of birth, needed for the bargaining process.

The NLRB regional office in Detroit investigated the charge and issued a complaint in September 2004 alleging multiple unfair labor practices. Following a hearing, NLRB Administrative Law Judge Paul Bogas on April 26, 2005 ordered Newcor to: restore terms and conditions of the old contract until the parties agree to a new one or reach a valid impasse; make whole all current and former employees for loss of wages and benefits as a result of the unlawful cuts imposed; and make contributions to funds established by the collective bargaining agreement with the union.

On appeal, the Board affirmed the judge’s findings and adopted his recommended order with minor modifications on November 8, 2005.  When Newcor failed to comply with the Board’s Order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted enforcement on February 15, 2007. 

Over the next 26 months, the regional office collected information on the 34 affected employees, including those who continued working, were laid off, or retired early due to the changed circumstances. Backpay calculations took into account medical expenses incurred as a result of lost health care coverage, expenses for job searches, income earned in a subsequent job (which is deducted from the backpay total), as well as hourly earnings and vacation time.

These calculations were presented at a compliance hearing, and Administrative Law Judge Earl Shamwell issued a favorable Supplemental Decision and recommended Order on July 21, 2010.  The Board issued its Supplemental Order on January 19, 2011, adopting the judge’s findings with minor modifications.

Key staff on this case: Field Examiner Annetta Stevenson investigated the underlying unfair labor practice case. Field Attorney Judith Champa presented the original case to Administrative Law Judge Paul Bogas. Field Attorney Richard Czubaj handled the compliance investigation, gathering a vast amount of documentation and drafting a series of five compliance specifications. In compliance proceedings, Counsel for the General Counsel Scott Preston presented the region’s case to Administrative Law Judge Earl Shamwell. Compliance Officer Mark Baines handled the processing of the compliance case and the disbursement of the backpay checks.   

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