2/15/08

Decertified union goes on strike

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 is picketing Levy Co. locations at two ArcelorMittal plants in Indiana, claiming the company has engaged in several unfair labor practices. David Fagan, the local's financial secretary, said members have set up a strike line at Levy's entrances to the both ArcelorMittal's Burns Harbor and Indiana Harbor plants. Levy Co. does slag processing and metal reclaiming for steelmakers.

"We started a strike today because of the recent unfair labor practices the company has engaged in," Fagan said. "A strike line has been set up. Customers, vendors and suppliers have a legal right to honor the picket line."

The local is preparing to file additional unfair labor practices charges against Levy with the National Labor Relations Board, Fagan said

Local 150 claims Levy Co., Levy Indiana Slag Co. and Edw. C. Levy Co., which constitute a single employer, has repeatedly engaged in an unfair labor practices by threatening to hire employees at a lower rate of pay and in lower work classifications, rather than reinstating striking members, who had made written offers to return to work.

The local also has filed an unfair labor practice charge against Levy because Levy filed "a baseless lawsuit" against Local 150 that alleges the local threatened and/or coerced its members and/or Levy customers to cease handling the company's products.

"Local 150 has engaged in no such activity and is vigorously defending against Levy's claims," Fagan said. "Members who went on strike against the company in August 2005 will continue the unfair labor practice strike until the unfair labor practices are resolved by the NLRB."

The National Labor Relations Board recently accepted the decertification of Levy Burns Harbor members from Local 150. The vote to decertify came as no surprise because those voting were replacement workers for those who had been on strike since mid 2005, Fagan said.

"It means the employees at Levy Co. at Mittal Steel Burns Harbor are now at-will employees" he said. "They can be fired at any time ... The company no longer pays pension and welfare contributions, and they can cut wages at will."

He added there have been no attempts to organize the replacement workers.

Berl Falbaum, of Falbaum and Associaties, which represents the Levy Co., could not be reached for comment Thursday.

(thetimesonline.com)

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