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Regional News: Concrete supplier Spurlino Materials ordered to rehire employees in Indianapolis

An Indianapolis concrete supplier found to have violated labor laws in the past has been ordered by a federal court to reinstate 11 employees who were replaced after they staged a week-long strike.

Under the consent agreement and injunction order sought by the NLRB and approved April 26 by Judge William T. Lawrence of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, the company must rehire the employees, withdraw letters saying they had been permanently replaced, and prominently post a copy of the order at the workplace. 

The order is the latest in a series of legal actions involving Spurlino Materials since employees chose Teamsters Local 716 as their collective bargaining representative nearly five years ago. In 2008, the NLRB Regional Office in Indianapolis obtained a federal injunction to halt discrimination in work assignments based upon employees’ union activity. And in 2010, the Board ordered the company to cease the discriminatory assigning of work and to offer reinstatement to a union activist who was discharged in 2006.

Spurlino failed to comply with the order to reinstate the fired employee, and employees staged the week-long strike in protest. They then offered unconditionally to return to work, but the employer said he had permanently replaced them. (Under federal labor law, participants in an economic strike can be permanently replaced, but participants in a strike called because of unfair labor practices cannot be permanently replaced).

The NLRB regional office issued a complaint against Spurlino, alleging that its failure to rehire the strikers was an unfair labor practice. It also obtained Board authorization to petition the federal district court for Sec. 10(j) injunctive relief which included the reinstatement of the strikers. Meanwhile, the case was heard by NLRB Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey D. Wedekind, who issued a decision in March recommending an order to fully reinstate the workers to employment. At that point, attorneys for Spurlino agreed to offer to return the striker’s to work and eventually entered into the consent agreement with its provision for the court’s injunction order.

Indianapolis Regional Director Rik Lineback praised the work of Board Attorney Kim Sorg-Graves in the administrative trial and in securing a consent injunction in the district court. “I trust the parties realize we will continue to seek all appropriate remedial and injunctive relief to secure the employees’ union and protected concerted rights under the National Labor Relations Act,” he said.

The employer has filed exceptions to the administrative law judge's decision, which puts the case before the Board in Washington DC.

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