Chicago, IL October 16, 2012 – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has frozen out Latino Express workers from participating in a dispute between their employer and Teamsters Local 777 that will determine whether they must accept an unwanted union in their workplace. Meanwhile, the NLRB subpoenaed the National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney advising these workers to testify during the Latino Express hearing, a move that prevented him from advising his clients, three of whom also appeared as witnesses.
Although a majority of Latino Express employees oppose the Teamsters’ presence and have signed a decertification petition to remove the union, Teamster lawyers filed charges with the NLRB alleging that the company unlawfully withdrew recognition of their union.
Despite union officials’ claims, a majority of workers oppose the Teamsters. Ramiro Lopez – the employee who submitted the petition for union decertification – and 36 other workers subsequently moved to intervene in the hearing to have their voices heard. However, an Administrative Law Judge denied this motion.
“Instead of promptly recognizing that a majority of Latino Express employees don’t want the Teamsters’ so-called ‘representation’, the NLRB is subjecting them to a lengthy legal struggle between the company and the union without even allowing them to participate,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
What’s worse, the NLRB subpoenaed Lopez’s Foundation-provided attorney, Matthew Muggeridge, to testify at the hearing on the union’s charges. Muggeridge opposed the subpoena on the ground that it interferes with his representation of Lopez and several other Latino Express employees, but the NLRB’s acting general counsel’s attorney maintains that Muggeridge must testify and has threatened to enforce the subpoena in federal court.
By issuing the subpoena, the NLRB’s attorney also prevented Muggeridge from attending most of the hearing and advising any of the Latino Express employees, three of whom testified as witnesses. Subpoenaed witnesses are sequestered from participating in any part of a hearing other than their own testimony. Consequently, the NLRB’s subpoena effectively prevented Muggeridge from acting during the proceedings as an attorney for the Latino Express workers who retained him.
“Not content with blocking the employees’ decertification petition, the NLRB has gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent Latino Express workers from participating in a hearing that will determine whether they are still forced to accept the Teamsters’ presence in their workplace. As if that weren’t enough, by calling their attorney as a witness, the Board has effectively taken away the employees’ legal representation,” continued Mix. “This subpoena reeks of retaliation by the NLRB against one of the Foundation staff attorneys who successfully intervened in the notorious Boeing prosecution for several nonunion South Carolina employees and helped expose the Board’s overreach in that case.”
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 nationwide per year.