Thomas Built Workers Win New Settlement Forcing UAW Union and Freightliner to Cancel Unlawful Sweetheart Deal
High Point, North Carolina (March 10, 2005) – Facing prosecution by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), United Auto Workers (UAW) union and Freightliner officials today agreed to cancel outright a company-wide sweetheart deal in which union officials had unlawfully bargained to limit workers’ wage demands and made other major concessions in exchange for Freightliner’s active assistance in coercing workers to unionize.
Based on evidence provided by National Right to Work Foundation attorneys for Thomas Built Bus employee Jeff Ward, the NLRB’s General Counsel found that Freightliner officials at Thomas Built provided unlawful assistance to the union and held unlawful “captive audience” speeches jointly with union officials to coerce employees to sign union authorization cards that were treated as “votes” in favor of unionization.
Even more significantly, the General Counsel issued an unfair labor practice complaint challenging a secret agreement between Freightliner and the UAW union titled “Agreement on Preconditions to a Card Check Procedure” as constituting unlawful “premature bargaining” over substantive terms and conditions of employment before the union had achieved majority support among the employees.
The unlawful agreement spelled out what provisions would be contained in future collective bargaining agreements and would ensure a compliant company union that would not aggressively advocate for the employees.
The new settlement reached today came after Ward objected to an earlier settlement proposal in which UAW officials had agreed not to act as the employees’ bargaining representative, but were allowed to use the coercive arrangement at other Freightliner facilities.
Like the previous proposed settlement, the new settlement cancels the union’s recognition at Thomas Built and stipulates that it cannot act as the employees’ representative unless it wins uncoerced majority support through a secret ballot election conducted by the NLRB.
“Jeff Ward’s principled stance in the face of a shameless UAW hierarchy has won relief for countless thousands of Freightliner employees,” said Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “The UAW hierarchy initially tried to cut its losses at Thomas Built in the hopes of keeping their illegal agreement alive at other Freightliner facilities. They have now been forced to cease and desist company wide.”
“The sweetheart deal shows how eager union officials are to sell out the employees’ interests simply to get more union dues paying members.”
Bowing to pressure brought by UAW union operatives, Freightliner-Daimler Chrysler signed a so-called “neutrality agreement” that prohibited the traditional and less-abusive secret ballot election process. The company instead agreed to recognize the union on the basis of a majority of employees signing union authorization cards. Under the agreement, union organizers were given access to company facilities to browbeat workers into signing the cards.