Fired BrucePac workers reinstated

BrucePac, a Willamette Valley cooked meat processor, has offered reinstatement and back pay to three of the 17 union supporters it fired in June 2009. Manuel Coria and Jose Carmen Maciel returned Aug. 31, 2010 to their day-shift sanitation jobs at the company’s Silverton plant. Daniel Luna, who found another job, declined the reinstatement offer.

The 17 workers were terminated during a 45-worker mass layoff, three weeks after workers began discussing joining Laborers Local 296. The union filed multiple complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

NLRB pursued charges in four of the 17 firings, and in April, a federal administrative law judge determined that in three of the firings, BrucePac had a clear anti-union motive. Terminating workers for supporting a union campaign is against federal labor law. The judge ordered BrucePac to reinstate the workers, with back pay.

But BrucePac appealed the decision. That might have delayed compliance with the order, but the NLRB regional office asked a federal judge for an injunction ordering BrucePac to reinstate the workers while the appeal continues. Two days before the judge was to consider the injunction request, BrucePac attorneys agreed to reinstate the workers, even though the appeal will still go forward.

“I think they didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of the judge,” said David Rosenfeld, the union’s attorney in the case.

The workers will also get back pay, basically 14 months’ wages minus anything they earned since the firing.

Local 296 Business Representative Jack Roy and dispatcher Dagoberto Aranda say they hope the return will embolden remaining pro-union workers at BrucePac, who became fearful of openly supporting a union campaign after all the key union supporters were fired.

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