Can’t Do That, NLRB Tells Union-Hating Firm

     FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CN) – The National Labor Relations Board sued an Indiana company that threatened to split itself in two – one unionized and one not – because its workers engaged in protected activities, the NLRB claims in court.
     The NLRB sued SMI, a division of DCX-CHOL Enterprises, on July 31 in Federal Court.
     The company itself is the only defendant.
     SMI makes wire, cables and harnesses. The NLRB claims it violated the National Labor Relations Act.
     The NLRB says in the complaint that on Oct. 16, 2013, SMI vice president of human resources Carol Goods-North “threatened employees with the division of Respondent into two separate companies, one unionized company and one nonunionized company, because the employees engaged in union and protected concerted activities.”
     This came after Goods-North had “threatened employees with job loss and plant closure if they did not approve the Respondent’s proposal to contractually change employees’ pay dates,” the NLRB says. That threat came on Aug. 19, 2013, according to the lawsuit.
     The company’s workers have been unionized since at least February 2011, with collective bargaining rights under the Indiana Joint Board, Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union, United Food & Commercial Workers Union, Local 835. But in late August 2013, “Respondent … failed and refused to recognize and bargain with the Union as the representative of the Unit,” according to the lawsuit.
     Early this year, SMI “withdrew its recognition of the union as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the unit,” and then “refused to meet and bargain with the union for the purposes of negotiating a successor collective-bargaining agreement” in violation of Sections 8, 1 and 5 of the National Labor Relations Act, according to the complaint.
     The NLRB seeks an injunction to prevent the company from threatening division as a way of avoiding bargaining obligations, while final adjudication by the National Labor Relations Board is pending.

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