Region 13 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a decision agreeing with UE’s allegations that Republic Windows and Doors violated federal labor law in moving work out of the Chicago facility, where workers have been members of UE Local 1110, and closing the factory in early December. Workers responded with a five-day plant occupation that drew national attention and support for their fight and won them the pay that Republic had denied them.
Specifically the Region has found that:
- Republic illegally created an alter-ego company in Red Oak, Iowa in order to avoid its collective bargaining obligations with UE,
- Republic illegally shut down operations in Chicago and transferred work to the Red Oak plant without notice or bargaining with the union, and
- Republic illegally failed to provide information for bargaining or to process grievances, as required under the law and the collective bargaining agreement.
The labor board will now seek a settlement of the charges from Republic’s owner. If there is no settlement, the case will be set for a hearing before an administrative law judge, who can issue an order against the company.
“All this is too late to change the abuses of our rights by Republic management. We were deliberately denied our rights and protections under the union contract and law, and only our occupation of the factory in December won justice for the workers”, said Armando Robles, president of UE Local 1110.
The Republic plant is scheduled to reopen in the coming weeks under a new owner, Serious Materials. UE members will be recalled to their jobs as work ramps up at the plant, under a UE contract agreed to by the management of Serious. UE Local 1110 will continue to represent workers at the new company.
Companies routinely violate workers rights with no penalty. There are more fines involved in a parking ticket than in breaking the federal labor law. “Unless Congress passes the Employee Free Choice Act,” said UE Western Region President Carl Rosen, “more workers will have to resort to non-violent protests such as the plant occupations in order to compel employers to respect their most basic rights, and to be able to support their families in the current harsh economic climate.”