A National Labor Relations Board judge has ordered Pratt Corrugated Logistics of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, to rehire 13 terminated truck drivers. The judge also ordered the carrier to provide back-pay and benefits to the terminated drivers.
The drivers claim they were fired because they were discussing forming an organized union, and the judge agreed. Terminating the employees violated the driver’s rights to form collective bargaining units.
In April, Pratt terminated truck driver Christian Salazar, who admits to speaking with other drivers about organizing a union with the Teamsters. Not long after Salazar’s termination, Pratt laid off 11 additional drivers.
“Before they were laid off, truck drivers testified that they were interviewed in small groups by a consultant who identified himself only as ‘Jay.’ He asked the drivers how they felt about working conditions and what problems they thought should be addressed, the drivers testified,” McCall reported.
“Jay” told the employees he was a labor relations consultant.
After the drivers were terminated, they discovered “Jay” was in fact Jason Greer, a consultant who, according to his website, describes himself as a “union buster,” someone who “wakes up every day with one goal in mind, and that’s to keep unions from taking over and ruining businesses that my friends and my clients have worked their entire lives to build.”
Putting together all the pieces, the drivers began to speculate why they were really terminated– Pratt did not want its drivers to unionize.
The carrier disagreed. They said two of the employees were terminated for poor performance and the remaining 11 were laid off because the company decided to outsource the loads to another company.
Following an investigation and a 3-day trial, “Administrative Law Judge Robert Giannasi rejected the company’s assertion, citing inconsistencies in the testimony of Pratt managers as to why the drivers were terminated and how the terminations were handled. Giannasi specifically rejected testimony from Tom Olshefski, a high-ranking manager in Pratt’s logistics division,” McCall reported.
During trial, Olshefski testified that damages to trucks caused him to “hit the panic button in terms of concern,” and prompted the company to outsource the jobs.
The judge dismissed the testimony, pointing out the carrier continued to hire new truck drivers, even after Olshefski said he became concerned.
“I specifically reject Olshefski’s testimony about his reason for the layoff as not credible,” Giannasi stated.
“I find that Greer’s appearance and statements were a response to the nascent, but ongoing, union campaign, contrary to Respondent’s suggestion that Greer was simply trying to increase efficiency and productivity without regard to the union campaign,” Giannasi continued. “The timing of Greer’s appearance, his background and his furtive reluctance to reveal his last name support the inference, which I make, that his promise to resolve the grievances he solicited was conditioned on the employees rejecting the Union, notwithstanding that nothing was mentioned about a union in those meetings.”
Source: The Morning Call- McCall