NEW YORK The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a petition for a preliminary injunction to prevent Novelis Corp. from allegedly denying employees "the right to choose whether they wish to be represented by a union for purposes of collective bargaining" at its Oswego, N.Y., aluminum sheet plant.
The petition, filed June 25 in U.S. District Court in New York by NLRB regional director Rhonda Ley, is part of an ongoing dispute between Novelis and the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers union, which has alleged unfair labor practices on the part of the aluminum producer.
Ley said that the petition is "based on the petitioners conclusion that there is reasonable cause to believe that (Novelis) committed the acts as charged."
"In pursuit of (its) objective, (Novelis) coercively interrogated employees about their union activities, restored certain benefits, and threatened employees implicitly and directly with various consequences of selecting the union as their bargaining representative including plant closure, a reduction in wages, more onerous working conditions including mandatory overtime, loss of business and loss of jobs," the NLRB alleged in its petition.
"(Novelis) also disparaged the (union) by asserting that the union filed a charge concerning the unlawful restoration of premium pay and overtime benefits at a time when no such charge had been filed, and threatened employees that it would lose these benefits and have to repay them retroactively. (Novelis) also disparately enforced and maintained unlawful solicitation and distribution policies whereby it prohibited pro-union postings and distributions, while permitting non-union and anti-union postings and distributions," the NLRB said in the petition.
"(Novelis) solicited employee complaints and grievances and promised employees improved terms of employment if they did not select the union as their bargaining representative. (Novelis) also maintains a social media policy that restrains employees Section 7 rights under the (National Labor Relations Act)," the NLRB said.
The Atlanta-based company recently announced that it would give 3-percent annual pay raises for the next five years to nearly 600 hourly employees at the Oswego facility, as well as restore overtime rates beginning in July for employees who work during unscheduled hours (amm.com, May 23).
Novelis has been ordered to appear at a July 17 hearing to demonstrate why the injunction should not be awarded.
"The employees at Oswego Works voted to remain a non-union operation in a lawful and democratic process," Oswego plant manager Chris Smith said in a statement. "We have a responsibility to fight for their choice and will use all available legal options to prevent their decision from being ignored," Smith said, adding that the NLRBs claims are "without merit."