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NLRB Region 1-Boston Wins Injunction Requiring I.N.S.A. Bargain with the Union and Offer Reinstatement to Two Unlawfully Laid Off Workers

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On May 14, 2024, United States District Judge Myong J. Joun of the District Court of Massachusetts issued an injunction requiring I.N.S.A., Inc. to recognize and bargain with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Local 1445 under the NLRB’s Cemex decision, offer reinstatement to two unlawfully terminated employees, and hold at least one mandatory meeting in which the employer or the Board agent reads the District Court’s Injunction Order to employees at its Salem, Massachusetts store.

The District Court further ordered I.N.S.A. to rescind all retaliatory discipline against employees for their union activity, expunge employees’ records, physically post and electronically distribute the Court’s Order to employees, and cease and desist from unlawful activities. The Court’s Order provides this relief pending a final decision by the National Labor Relations Board (Board) on the underlying administrative complaint.

The injunction was issued based on a petition for temporary injunctive relief filed by Region 1-Boston Regional Director Laura Sacks under Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in October 2023. Section 10(j) of the NLRA authorizes the Board to seek injunctions against employers and unions in federal district courts to stop unfair labor practices and ensure that employees’ rights will be adequately protected from remedial failure due to the passage of time.

The Region’s petition for an injunction explained that I.N.S.A. unlawfully retaliated against, disciplined, and eventually discharged two employees after the employees had shown majority support for a union and asked for voluntary recognition. After the employer engaged in the alleged unlawful conduct, including refusing to recognize the union, the employees voted against union representation. In September 2023, an NLRB Administrative Law Judge issued a decision finding I.N.S.A. had engaged in “serious unfair labor practices” during the election period and ordered the employer to bargain with the union. The case has now been transferred to the Board.

Under the Board’s recent decision in Cemex, if an employer commits unfair labor practices that require rerunning the election, the election petition will be dismissed, and the employer will be ordered to bargain with the union.

“The district court judge correctly determined that I.N.S.A.’s unfair labor practices had a coercive effect on workers’ right to a free and fair election about union representation. We are pleased that the district court decision provides the critical interim relief that employees need to exercise their rights under the NLRA, including the right to collectively bargain with their employer through their chosen representatives under the Board's recent decision in Cemex,” said NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo. “The Agency will continue to vigorously defend workers’ rights under the NLRA, including seeking injunctive relief in district court when appropriate.”

“Workers have a right to take collective action free from employer retaliation. The work by Region 1 staff to obtain this injunction exemplifies their diligence and dedication to employee rights and justice,” said Region 1-Boston Regional Director Laura Sacks. “I’m extremely proud of their efforts here, as this excellent, hard-fought result is a critical part of restoring the ability of the employees of I.N.S.A. to exercise their rights.”

Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees, employers, and unions from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year. Region 1 serves areas in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont from its Regional Office in Boston and Subregional Office in Hartford.