NLRB Judge Orders Terex to Reinstate 13 Employees, Bargain with Union

A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative law judge virtually threw the book at a Grand Rapids, Minn., construction equipment firm for widespread labor law-breaking during a 2014 Boilermakers organizing drive.

Indeed, Terex’s violations were so bad that on June 11, Administrative Law Judge David Goldman ordered instant recognition and bargaining by the firm with the union, saying the union now represents the company’s undercarriage makers as well as its painters. 

And Goldman also ordered Terex to rehire 13 workers – including most of its painters – whom it illegally fired after the two NLRB-run elections among those groups in 2014.

Terex’s labor law-breaking included threats to close the Grand Rapids plant, and the immediate firing of many of the painters – and later firing of three more – the day after that group of workers voted 10-1 for the Boilermakers that April.  Terex’s violations are common nationwide, according to independent analysis of NLRB data.

Combined with other labor law-breaking, including violations included in a profanity-laced tirade by Plant Manager James DiBiagio against the union at a mandated meeting for all Terex workers, a fair and objective rerun election among the undercarriage workers was impossible, Goldman said.  The union had lost the first vote in that unit, 22-15.

“These violations were highly coercive and the type of unfair labor practices recognized by the board to be particularly likely to undermine the prospects for a future fair election,” Goldman said.  That led him to order Terex to recognize and bargain with the Boilermakers.

“Threats of job loss and plant closure are ‘hallmark’ violations, long considered by the board to warrant a remedial bargaining order because their coercive effect tends to ‘destroy election conditions, and to persist for longer periods of time than other unfair labor practices.’

“Such threats serve as an insidious reminder to employees every time they come to work that any effort on their part to improve their working conditions may be met with complete destruction of their livelihood…The unfair labor practices were made directly to all unit employees.  Moreover, the fact that the threats were made in the days before the election, and not weeks before, maximizes their coercive impact,” Goldman concluded.

“Due to the severity of the unfair labor practices, Judge Goldman agreed with the” NLRB’s general counsel, which prosecuted the case, that “a bargaining order was warranted, requiring Terex to recognize and bargain with the union as the assembly employees’ representative,” the agency said in a statement from its headquarters in D.C.

 NLRB issues such orders “in cases where a rerun election cannot be freely and fairly conducted due to the nature of unfair labor practices, such as employer threats of closure and illegal employee discharge.”  

Article by Mark Gruenberg, writer for Press Associates, Inc., news service.