Judge Slaps American Reclamation With Injunction, Orders Workers Reinstated
A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that a Los Angeles-based recycling company must reinstate three fired workers who supported an organizing campaign and must stop threatening, intimidating and coercing all the employees, a huge victory for the 60 workers who are seeking Teamster representation.
“This is a tremendous victory for the 60 sorters, drivers, helpers and mechanics at American Reclamation who are seeking better lives for themselves and their families,” said Ron Herrera, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 396 in Covina, California. “The District Judge agreed with the National Labor Relations Board that these workers have faced tremendous abuse by the employer and that this abuse must stop immediately.”
The NLRB sent its complaint to the District Court seeking an injunction under section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act to get the company to stop abusing its workers.
In late May, the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) cited American Reclamation, Inc. for 36 safety violations that put the workers at risk while on the job. Cal/OSHA’s citations came closely on the heels of a complaint filed by the NLRB that charged American Reclamation with 13 unfair labor practices (ULPs) in connection with the workers’ campaign to join Local 396. The NLRB complaint, filed on April 30, included three ULPs for wrongful termination of workers by the company.
“The fact that the NLRB, a state agency and the District Court all found overwhelming examples of major problems highlight how egregious this company’s violations have been,” Herrera said.
The problems at American Reclamation are indicative of a larger problem workers at non-union facilities face in the Los Angeles area—worker-intimidation and sweat-shop working conditions. The Teamsters are part of “Don’t Waste LA,” a coalition of community, environmental, faith and labor groups working for clean air, green jobs and recycling for all Los Angeles residents through region-wide standards in the commercial and multi-family waste and recycling system.
“The court ruling underscores how crucial it is that workers have a voice in performing these incredibly difficult and dangerous jobs,” said Greg Good, Director of the Don’t Waste LA campaign for the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE).
“American Reclamation, like so many waste and recycling companies in the region, has for too long worked to oppress the workers’ voices and by extension has been limiting the protections for workers, communities and the environment.”
In this week’s order, signed July 24, Judge Dean D. Pergerson ordered that the company reinstate the fired workers. The judge also ordered that the company rescind and remove all references to the discharges in the workers’ personnel files. The workers are Santos Orellana Gonzalez, Magdaleno Sanchez and Karla Campos.
The judge ordered that the company post copies of the order in conspicuous places at the facility and to convene workers within 14 days during working time to read the order with an NLRB agent and Local 396 representative present.
The judge also ordered the company to cease and desist from “interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees” in their rights to form a union. He also ordered the company to stop “making it appear that [the company] is watching employees’ union activities.”
The judge also ordered the company to cease and desist “threatening employees with sale or closure of the facility, discharge, layoff…” and to stop “threatening employees with discharge or layoff if they engage in activity with other employees regarding wages, hours, or working conditions.”
“This ruling should send a message to all waste and recycling companies that this contemptible, vicious anti-worker behavior must not be allowed,” said Bob Morales, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste, Recycling and Related Industries Division. “The Teamsters will continue to work with the NLRB and other agencies to make sure companies are held accountable for this abhorrent behavior.”
The American Reclamation workers have received tremendous support from Joint Council 42 and its President, Randy Cammack, and support from other community and political allies. The Teamsters have coordinated three rallies with the company’s workers with great turnouts, including one at the Good Jobs/Green Jobs Conference with General President Jim Hoffa.