**Charlotte, NC (April 27, 2006)** – The Regional Director for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a formal complaint and agreed to prosecute Freightliner LLC for federal unfair labor practices after an autoworker suffered retaliation for questioning a pattern of special treatment given to United Auto Workers (UAW) union officials by the company.
Kristi Jones, a Freightliner employee at the company’s Gastonia facility, sought free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation to file unfair labor practice charges in early April after she was suspended, demoted, threatened, and stripped of her leadership position.
Company officials retaliated against Jones in response to an email she sent in December 2005 that simply questioned whether a new work rule applied to UAW union officials as well as nonunion workers. The rule specified that workers on the facility floor must wear safety glasses with clear lenses. Jones sought a clarification of how the new rule would be enforced due to an ongoing pattern of special treatment for union officials – including the exemptions of union stewards from ten-minute team “huddle meetings” and from a requirement that workers formally sign in when working overtime.
NLRB prosecutors agreed with Jones’ charges in finding that Freightliner maintained a work environment where even implicit criticism of union officials was met with harsh and unlawful disciplinary action.
Aside from violating the National Labor Relations Act, such actions also run contrary to the spirit of North Carolina’s highly popular Right to Work law – on the books since 1947 – which prohibits forcing workers to join or pay dues to a union as a job condition.
“UAW officials have enlisted Freightliner to do their dirty work by retaliating against employees that refuse to toe the union line,” said Stefan Gleason, National Right to Work Foundation Vice President. “The bullying of employees to support a corrupt union cannot continue unpunished.”
The formal complaint comes on the heels of a class-action federal racketeering lawsuit filed by employees in U.S. District Court in January seeking significant damages after Freightliner, a Daimler/Chrysler subsidiary, and UAW union officials had already been found to be in illegal collusion by NLRB investigators.
Jones and four other autoworkers from three major facilities in North Carolina, including the Gastonia facility, brought the lawsuit against the UAW union and Freightliner, also with free legal aid from Foundation attorneys. That complaint outlines a secret quid pro quo arrangement between Freightliner and the UAW in which union officials agreed in advance to significant concessions at the expense of Freightliner’s workers at its nonunion facilities in the state in exchange for valuable company assistance in organizing those workers.
The NLRB has scheduled a hearing before an administrative law judge on June 5 to prosecute Freightliner and remedy the allegations set forth in the complaint.
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.