Carpenters fired by Aaron Carlson seek injunctive relief

Carpenters who have been organizing a union at the Aaron Carlson Corp. have filed for injunctive relief after they were fired on Friday and the company announced it was closing its Morris, Minn., operations.

“They let all the guys go on Friday in retaliation for their union activities,” said Paul Cloer, business agent and council representative for the Carpenters Industrial Council. “ Our attorneys have filed for 10(j) injunctive relief and new unfair labor practice charges regarding the terminations.”

The closing left not only 12 cabinetmakers, but four other employees without jobs.

If the National Labor Relations Board upholds the workers’ charges, Aaron Carlson “could be required to reopen the plant and pay the cabinetmakers for all the time lost and the benefits,” said Cloer.

Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act authorizes the National Labor Relations Board to seek temporary injunctions against employers and unions in federal district courts to stop unfair labor practices while the case is being litigated before administrative law judges and the Board, according to the NLRB. The agency noted it has made increasing use of such injunctions to counter violations of labor law.

A group of cabinetmakers has been on strike at Aaron Carlson’s Morris facility since April 11, seeking recognition of the Carpenters’ union as their collective bargaining representative. The union already represents workers at the company’s plant in Northeast Minneapolis.

Before Friday’s firings, the workers had filed eight charges with the NRLB alleging unfair labor practices by the company. They have been picketing the Morris plant and last Wednesday conducted bannering at the Minneapolis operations.

The key issue is wages, the workers said. Through their union contract, workers in Minneapolis are making $10 more per hour than their counterparts in Morris, they said.

The company “is making a boatload of money,” said Cloer. “They’re making an extra $300,000 off the labor of the workers [in Morris]. He sells the cabinets for the same price he does at the union made shop.”

A decision from the NLRB on the injunction should come within a few days, Cloer said. In the meantime, workers continue to picket in Morris and planned banners in Minneapolis on Monday and Wednesday.

The workers also plan to take their message to Aaron Carlson’s customers, the union said. “We will be bannering and bringing awareness of the unfair labor practices he has committed,” said Cloer.

Story by Barb Kucera is reprinted from WorkdayMinnesota.