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Selbyville, DE (May 18, 2021) – Delaware Mountaire Farms employee Oscar Cruz Sosa is challenging National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 5’s dismissal of his federal charge against the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27 union. Cruz Sosa charged Local 27 officials with illegally surveilling him while he was helping his coworkers exercise their right to vote out the union.
Cruz Sosa submitted a petition in February 2020 signed by hundreds of his coworkers – enough to trigger an NLRB-supervised vote to remove the union (known as a “decertification election”) – but UFCW officials sought to block the vote by claiming that a “contract bar” existed that prevented any election. The “contract bar” is a non-statutory NLRB-concocted policy 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 Region 5 Director in Baltimore allowed the vote Cruz Sosa and his coworkers requested because he found that the union contract contained an illegal forced-dues clause, and thus the “contract bar” did not apply. However, unwilling to lose power over 800 forced-dues payers in Cruz Sosa’s workplace, UFCW lawyers petitioned the full NLRB to reimpose the “contract bar.” In response, Foundation staff attorneys urged the Board to reform the restriction or eliminate it entirely.
The case was under consideration by the full Board until last month, when it reversed the Regional Director’s months-old ruling that the contract was invalid, kept the controversial “contract bar” in place, and ordered that hundreds of employee ballots cast in the election to remove the unpopular UFCW union bosses be destroyed rather than counted.
While the case was still being litigated, the NLRB issued a complaint against Mountaire Farms in a separate case UFCW union officials filed, which revealed that Mountaire Farms officials had not acquiesced in union officials’ March 2020 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.” Cruz Sosa submitted the employee-backed petition for a vote to decertify UFCW union officials in February 2020.
Foundation staff attorneys subsequently filed an unfair labor practice charge for Cruz Sosa, arguing the union’s demands for Cruz Sosa’s private information were an obvious attempt to intimidate and retaliate against him and stymie his and his coworkers’ efforts to exercise their right to vote union bosses out of power.
Cruz Sosa’s Foundation-provided staff attorneys defend that charge in the current appeal, contending that NLRB Region 5’s dismissal of his charge was wrong because “Local 27 had no legitimate representational objective for this information―unless surveilling your decertification opponent (an employee you purport to represent) is now considered ‘legitimate representational activity.’”
The appeal reiterates the intimidating and harassing nature of UFCW officials’ actions, emphasizing “that Local 27 made no similar information requests about any of the 799 other chicken processors employed at Mountaire Farms.”
“UFCW bosses have unequivocally shown that they value maintaining power at the Selbyville Mountaire plant far more than respecting the rights of the employees they claim to represent, whether that entails unlawfully surveilling an employee who is engaging in protected activity or fighting for the destruction of workers’ ballots,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “No American employee should have to go to work thinking that they are being spied on merely for helping their fellow employees exercise their right to resist union power.”
If you have questions about whether union officials are violating your rights, contact the Foundation for free help. You can also support our cause and help those suffering from Forced Unionism by donating.
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