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Region 28 negotiates reinstatement and backpay for 11 Phoenix employees and union election rerun

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Phoenix, Arizona — On May 5, 2021, Region 28 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) approved an agreement providing for reinstatement and a full make-whole backpay remedy for 11 employees of Stern Produce Company, Inc., a produce distribution company in Phoenix, Arizona. The same day, Region 28 also approved a separate agreement providing for the conduct of a rerun election for the company’s drivers and warehouse employees. 

The agreements resolve an unfair labor practice charge and election objections filed by United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 99 (UFCW, Local 99). The charge and objections related to the layoff and recall or rehire of employees before an election conducted by the NLRB to determine whether Stern Produce Company’s drivers and warehouse employees wished to be represented by UFCW, Local 99.  The results of the election were inconclusive because the number of ballots challenged based on employees’ voting eligibility exceeded the margin between “yes” and “no” votes in the election.  

Following investigation of the unfair labor practice charge, Region 28 issued a complaint alleging that Stern Produce Company selectively recalled or rehired laid-off employees in a manner calculated to dilute UFCW, Local 99’s strength in the election and refused to recall or rehire 11 employees from layoff because of their support for UFCW, Local 99. UFCW, Local 99’s election objections alleged that Stern Produce Company interfered with employee free choice in the election by laying off employees to discourage support for the union.  

The agreement resolving the unfair labor practice charge provides for the NLRB’s entry of an order requiring Stern Produce Company to: post and mail to its employees a notice reassuring them that it will not interfere with their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, cease and desist from engaging in the types of conduct alleged in the complaint, and reinstate and provide a full make-whole backpay remedy to the 11 employees named in the complaint. The agreement also provides for enforcement of the NLRB’s order by a United States Circuit Court of Appeals.  

The agreement resolving the election objections provides for the NLRB’s conduct of a rerun election after Stern Produce Company complies with the NLRB’s order in the unfair labor practice case, or when UFCW, Local 99 requests that processing of its petition for an election proceed, whichever occurs sooner.  

Based on the parties’ agreements, a hearing before an NLRB administrative law judge on the matters has been cancelled, the parties’ agreement resolving the unfair labor practice charge has been transmitted to the NLRB for further action, and the parties’ agreement to a rerun election has been approved by Region 28.  

“It is unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their workplace rights,” said Region 28 Director Cornele A. Overstreet. “I’m proud of my staff for working with both parties on a settlement that will make workers whole and affirm their rights to organize for better working conditions.” 

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.