Machinists win back pay from Kuni BMW

PORTLAND, OR - Giant Portland area car dealer Kuni Cadillac and BMW has been ordered by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to pay two mechanics more than $23,000 in back pay with reinstatement to their jobs after being terminated for leading a union organizing drive.

Charles (Patrick) Hubschman and Dustin Lane were working with Machinists District Lodge 24 organizer Bob Petroff to form a union at Kuni's BMW garage last November when they were terminated two days before the Machinists were going to file for an election. Six of nine mechanics at the shop had signed union authorization cards. After the two were fired the Machinists filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the NLRB and the election was put on hold.

At the hearing, an NLRB administrative law judge ruled that the two employees had been illegally fired for union activity. The judge ordered Kuni to pay back wages and benefits, reinstate the men to their jobs, and expunge from their files any references to discipline and/or termination. The men declined to return to their previous jobs. Kuni had alleged the two employees had poor attendance records (late to work) and were not "team players," Petroff said.

But Hubschman was fired just days after returning from an employer-paid training school in Los Angeles and just days before Lane was scheduled to take the same training course.

"In the investigation we found other employees with worse attendance records who had been written up but they weren't fired," Petroff said.

Kuni BMW paid Hubschman $10,858.53 and Lane received $12,690. The employer also had to post for 60 days a notice to all employees explaining the outcome of the unfair labor practice and pledging not to coerce, discipline, interogate, make false promises or otherwise interfere in their employees' protected right to join a union.

Petroff said that since the organizing drive started last November, Kuni BMW has incorporated with Kuni Cadillac to become Kuni Cadillac & BMW, a subsidiariy of Kuni Enterprises Inc. Turnover also has been high at the BMW shop so, the organizing campaign may be suspended, although there are still contacts at the garage.


October 16, 1998 issue

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