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Producers check unions’ enterprise coercion

When President Obama’s critics talk about abuse of executive power, a National Labor Relations Board reference is close at hand. Questioning the constitutionality of three Board Members' appointments, made when the administration deemed the Senate in recess, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in January that the NLRB lacked a quorum in a 2012 decision for which Washington state employer Noel Canning sought review. The NLRB responded last month, petitioning for Supreme Court review of the appellate court ruling. Post-2011 Board orders would be jeopardized in the event the high court refuses to review the ruling, or upholds it.

Ideally, court actions will not affect two recent agency orders favoring Pennsylvania and New Jersey ready mixed producers, each pushing back against Teamsters locals’ attempts to restrain or divert commerce in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Approving a Formal Settlement Stipulation between agency staff, charging party and respondent, the Board ordered Teamsters Local 107, Philadelphia, to cease and desist from activities aimed at intimidating employees of JDM Materials’ Huntingdon Valley, Pa., ready mixed plant, or obstructing the producer’s business with contractors D’Andrea Brothers Concrete Co. and Molly Construction, Inc.

The settlement precludes Local 107 officials and members from blocking or otherwise preventing employees or vehicles from entering or leaving jobsites or facilities of JDM; hitting or spitting on vehicles attempting to cross picket lines; placing objects in front of vehicle windows in order to interfere with and obstruct the vision of drivers entering or leaving jobsites; attempting to remove employees from vehicles by force; causing damage to vehicles through the use of nails or other implements; and, threatening to inflict bodily harm upon employees attempting to make deliveries.

Attempted disruption of commerce with a pair of concrete contractors is also at the heart of another recent agency decision, favoring petitioner County Concrete Corp. of Kenvil, N.J. NLRB Administrative Law Judge Lauren Esposito found that Teamsters Local 560, Union City, N.J., repeatedly violated a NLRA section “prohibiting labor organizations and their representatives from threatening, coercing or restraining any person engaged in commerce, ‘where an object thereof is forcing or requiring any person to cease doing business with any other person.’”

Pursuant to NLRA Section 8, Judge Esposito ordered the union to cease and desist from threatening Sharp Concrete Corp. and Macedos Construction LLC with picketing with an object of forcing or requiring the contractors to stop doing business with County Concrete. In her discussion of the case, based mostly on April–December 2011 actions, she noted Local 560’s disputes with the producer, centered on claims that it was not paying mixer drivers area standards wages; County Concrete’s ongoing contract negotiations with another union, Teamsters Local 863; and, a letter from the Local 560 president alerting area building and transportation contractor associations that members conducting business with County Concrete would encounter picketing in accordance with the NLRB’s Moore Dry Dock standards for action at a secondary site.

The judge reviewed testimony of exchanges between Local 560 representatives and contractors on Jersey City and East Hanover, N.J., commercial building projects County Concrete was supplying; she determined that union threats in phone conversations violated the NLRA.

Under President Obama, the NLRB has drawn criticism for anti-business actions. Valid as certain of their points are, critics should acknowledge the agency’s respect for the law in the County Concrete and JDM cases.