News Release

Feds Balk at Protecting Utah Workers From Union Power Grab Involving West Coast Ports

Salt Lake City, Utah (May 6, 2003) – The Denver Regional Office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) today refused to intervene and protect over thirty Salt Lake City area employees of Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) from losing their jobs in retaliation for refraining from union representation.

In November 2002, with the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the workers filed charges with the NLRB against the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) for demanding that SSA take jobs away from its non-union employees at a Salt Lake City facility.

Despite the fact that the employees’ case was based on well-established law, the NLRB office today released a letter dismissing the charges. Foundation attorneys plan to file an appeal with NLRB General Counsel Arthur Rosenfeld.

“The shutdown of West Coast ports was a naked attempt to exploit an economic crisis for the purpose of increasing union coercive power at the expense of workers,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Union bosses have a long history of using economic and wartime crises to grab power.”

Control over the clerk jobs was a top bargaining priority for the union hierarchy, whose actions sparked a $2-billion-a-day shutdown of West Coast ports last Fall. Before the 10-day lockout in October, the ILWU hierarchy employed a variety of work slowdown tactics including deliberately understaffing key operations and sending workers to jobs for which they were not qualified, which made it impossible for the ports to function.

Last February, several members of Utah’s Congressional Delegation, including Senator Hatch, Senator Bennett, and Representative Cannon, urged the NLRB to take quick action.

“Now is the time for NRLB General Counsel Arthur Rosenfeld to step up and protect these workers from being the victim of another blatant union power grab,” stated Gleason.

The employees are responsible for tactical management of day-to-day activities and perform computerized planning work over the company’s rail, yard, and vessel functions. By insisting that this planning work instead be performed at new facilities at the ports staffed by unionized “marine clerks” rather than non-union employees, ILWU and PMA officials are in violation of the employees’ right to refrain from unionization under federal law and Utah’s Right to Work Law. If allowed to stand, the NRLB’s decision solidifies union control over vital jobs performed by non-union employees.

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, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.

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