A regional office of the National Labor Relations Board has sided with a plastics company in a union dispute over temporary workers.
Michael Dunn, regional director of NLRB's Fort Worth, Texas, office, ruled that unfair labor practice charges levied in late May and early June by the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees against Tucker Housewares' plant in Arlington, Texas, were unfounded.
Tucker, a division of Little Falls, N.J.-based Zeta Consumer Products Corp., injection molds household storage products in Arlington, and operates plants in Leominster, Mass., and Kingman, Ariz. Zeta also operates film plants in Macomb, Ill., and Washington, N.J.
``There was no gray area in this matter,'' Rajeev Bal, president of Zeta, said in a telephone interview from Little Falls.
UNITE claimed Tucker essentially fired 130 temporary workers — about half the facility's work force — when the company switched temporary agencies. The union also charged that a number of earlier dismissals of temporary workers were related to their union activities.
UNITE said it had been organizing temps at the plant.
Full-time workers in April voted 93-34 to accept UNITE representation.
The union claimed the switch from PDQ Temporaries to another agency was a form of retribution against those temporary workers who supported the union.
PDQ also was named in UNITE's charges.
But the NLRB regional office in Fort Worth ruled Aug. 28 that the switch in agencies and the earlier dismissals had nothing to do with the union drive.
In a letter to the parties involved, Michael Dunn, NLRB regional director, ruled the temp agency replaced some workers because they did not have proper documentation to work in the United States.
``PDQ checked the entire first shift ... and discovered that 31 employees had invalid Social Security numbers,'' Dunn wrote, adding that none of those employees returned to Tucker after given a chance to get their paperwork corrected.
``On the day [UNITE] filed its [representation] petition, PDQ happened to replace a number of illegal workers with legal ones,'' plant manager Jim Jackowski said.
Jackowski also said his company and PDQ had been working to eliminate illegal workers ``long before'' UNITE's organizing attempts began.
Dunn also ruled the switch in temp agencies was a result of a billing dispute, not because the company wanted to punish union supporters.
``The evidence revealed that Tucker was unable to pay PDQ the full amount owed PDQ, and PDQ decided to terminate the relationship,'' Dunn wrote. ``Thus Tucker had no control over the timing of the cessation of its relationship with PDQ.''
Jackowski said his company had a dispute with PDQ over the amount the agency was billing his plant for its temps.
``There were some discrepancies,'' he said, adding that the billing matter is being settled at the corporate level.
The union has until Sept. 11 to file an appeal to Dunn's ruling. Local union officials familiar with the case did not return telephone calls by press time.
Meanwhile, Tucker is working with its third temporary agency, which supplies about 110 workers, Jackowski said.
The second agency left after UNITE filed an organizing petition with its workers at Tucker, Jackowski said.
``So far UNITE has not tried to organize'' the third temporary agency, he said.