2/29/08

Union fouled decert election, re-vote ordered

For the third time in as many years, the American Federation of Professionals will conduct a certification election for Jupiter Aluminum's production workers. The election will take place Monday and Tuesday for approximately 140 employees who are eligible to vote, said Jennie Moreland, International Secretary/Treasurer of the Downers Grove (IL)-based union, which has more than 30,000 members from lawyers to metal workers.

The union has represented Jupiter's workers since 2005, but was ordered by the National Labor Relations Board to conduct another election following a decertification vote that was defeated in July 2007. The outcome of the vote was appealed and although the appeal was upheld, the NLRB ordered the new election based on statements made at the hearing.

"The company believes that the employees will make the right choice, said Jupiter spokesman Mark Schoenfield, who serves as the company's general counsel.

The AFP has a strategic alliance with the United Steelworkers union. The USW has been bargaining with the company in behalf of Jupiter's employees as it continues to negotiate its first bargaining agreement with the aluminum recycler at 1745 165th St. It also provides workers with grievance and arbitration services.

"Since our agreement with the USW, our negotiations have been moving forward very well," Moreland said.

The union and company have reached a tentative agreement on seniority, recall rights and other significant issues, but monetary matters remain outstanding, she said.

"The employer has only offered a production bonus, but there's only limited production at the plant so it doesn't mean anything," Moreland said. "There's no proposed hourly wage increases as the union is requesting."

The company recently laid off 21 bargaining unit members. They will be recalled, based on seniority, as negotiated in the labor agreement.

"We commend the Jupiter employees for their consistent and ongoing desire to have a union contract for wages for everyone," Moreland said. "We all want to ensure the prosperity of the employer is passed down to the employees."

The private, foreign-owned, for-profit company was the subject of a raid by agents of the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Attorney's office in early December. The agents executed a search warrant in connection with alleged violations of its air quality permit.

At the time, representatives for both EPA Region 5 in Chicago and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Indiana confirmed the raid and their investigation of Jupiter's aluminum recycling operation.

At the time, U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman Mary Hatton said it was the policy of the Department of Justice to not discuss an investigation until its completed. Hatton didn't return calls this week. To date, no charges have been filed in connection to the raid.

Schoenfield said Thursday there is nothing to report on the situation.

(nwitimes.com)

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