Recent NLRB case reveals that UFCW officials attempted illegal surveillance by demanding decertification petitioner’s attendance record from employer
Baltimore, MD (March 10, 2021) – Selbyville, DE-based Mountaire Farms employee Oscar Cruz Sosa has hit the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27 union at his workplace with a second round of federal charges.
This charge, filed at Region 5 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Baltimore with free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, maintains the union violated his rights by illegally retaliating against him and attempting illegal surveillance of his activities because he spearheaded his coworkers’ exercising their right to vote UFCW bosses out of the workplace.
Cruz Sosa’s charge comes as his election case, defending his and his coworkers’ right to oust UFCW officials, is pending before the full NLRB in Washington. Cruz Sosa submitted a petition in February 2020 signed by enough of his fellow employees to prompt a vote to decertify the union (also known as a “decertification election”), but UFCW officials sought to block the vote by claiming that a “contract bar” exists that prevents any election.
The “contract bar” is a non-statutory NLRB rule that forbids workers from voting out unpopular union bosses for up to three years after management and union officials broker a monopoly bargaining contract.
Over the union’s objections, the NLRB Regional Director in Baltimore allowed the vote Cruz Sosa and his coworkers requested to proceed because he found that the union contract contains an illegal forced dues clause, and thus the “contract bar” cannot apply. However, unwilling to lose power over 800 forced-dues payers in Cruz Sosa’s workplace, UFCW lawyers petitioned the full NLRB to re-impose the “contract bar.”
In response, Cruz Sosa’s Foundation-provided lawyers argued that, if the NLRB granted review of the union’s appeal, it should reconsider the entire “contract bar” policy. On July 7, 2020, the NLRB granted that request and threw the case open to nationwide briefing on whether to get rid of the “contract bar” because it stymies employee free choice.
Although the election finally occurred in June and July 2020, the ballots have been impounded until the NLRB issues its ruling. UFCW bosses are seeking to have the NLRB destroy all of the ballots Cruz Sosa and his coworkers have already cast in that election.
Cruz Sosa’s Foundation-provided attorneys continue to argue that the “contract bar” violates workers’ free choice rights and should be eliminated because it confines workers under the “representation” of unpopular union bosses, even when there is clear evidence workers want them gone.
Previously, Foundation staff attorneys filed a charge for Cruz Sosa challenging the union’s illegal forced dues clause and the requirement that he and others continue to pay dues under that clause. That case seeks a refund of dues collected from workers under the unlawful mandatory dues clause in the union boss-negotiated monopoly bargaining agreement. That case too is on hold pending the NLRB’s decision in the election case.
Cruz Sosa’s current charge was filed after the NLRB issued a complaint against Mountaire Farms in a separate case UFCW union officials filed. That complaint and associated documents reveal that Mountaire Farms officials have not acquiesced to union officials’ demands for “[c]opies of the daily hours of work and the time and attendance records for employee Oscar Cruz Sosa between August 1, 2019 and March 15, 2020.” Mountaire Farms has also not, according to the complaint, turned over to UFCW honchos “the daily admission log…for all access points to the Selbyville plant identifying by name” anyone who has accessed the plant since March 2020.
“From the moment Oscar Cruz Sosa filed his election petition, UFCW bosses have been attempting to disenfranchise workers. They even engaged in a campaign of surveillance against this employee, all to maintain their power.
UFCW Local 27 bosses are happy to trample the rights of the very rank-and-file workers they claim to represent,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “No workers should be subjected to surveillance or retaliation just because they assist their coworkers in exercising their statutory right to remove an unwanted union.”
National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys are helping other workers who are challenging the “contract bar” before the full NLRB in Washington. In early January, Foundation staff attorneys assisted a group of Puerto Rico armored transport guards in asking the Board to overturn the “contract bar,” which was used to block their request for an election to remove union representation from their workplace.
More recently, Foundation staff attorneys filed a Request for Review for Virginia Transdev employees who are seeking to remove unpopular Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 2 officials from their Fairfax Connector office. In that case, an OPEIU agent triggered the contract bar by secretly signing a contract only about a week before Transdev employees submitted to the NLRB a majority-backed decertification petition.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases per year. Its web address is www.nrtw.org.