Federal Trial Set for
Electric Materials Company (TEMCO);
Workers Hold Their Own People’s Court
North East, PA – The National Labor Relations Board
has issued formal complaint and scheduled a hearing on over 50 allegations
that managers at the Electric Materials Company (TEMCO) in North East have
been "interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the
exercise of their rights" guaranteed under the National Labor Relations
Act. The trial is set for July 9th in Erie.
More than 150 union workers with the United Electrical Workers UE Local 684
at TEMCO and their supporters held their own People’s Court in front of
the TEMCO plant on Washington St. in North East on Tuesday, June 19th
at 2:15pm. The People’s Judge read the indictments and invited
participants to be the jury. The verdict was a unanimous "Guilty!"
Charges against TEMCO include:
firing of an employee because he supported the union;
suspension of another employee for union activity;
management disregard for grievances;
handing out warnings without cause to union activists;
making unilateral changes to terms and conditions of
"We want to let TEMCO management know that they have a
choice here. They can either spend thousands of dollars a day on attorneys for
the trial, or they can sit down and negotiate a fair settlement. We’re solid
union and we’re here to stay," said Dale Wilkinson, a UE Chief Steward
and member of the Negotiating Committee of the union at TEMCO. UE District
President John Lambiase concurs, "TEMCO can either settle or face a
lifetime of litigation with trial after trial after trial."
The 260 workers at TEMCO who produce copper commutators voted
for the union a year and a half ago. The union and management have held over
30 meetings in an attempt to reach a fair settlement. The union has filed
Unfair Labor Practice charges with the NLRB accusing management of "bad
faith bargaining" because of their lack of intent to reach an agreement.
The trial will investigate that charge.
According to Lance Compa, attorney and author of "Unfair
Advantage: Workers’ Freedom of Association in the United States," the
NLRB typically only finds 35% of unfair labor practices charges to have
"merit" and even fewer are brought to trial. Because of the scale of
the charges against TEMCO, employees and the UE Local 684 have asked the court
to compel management to bargain in good faith with the union.
In addition to the members of Local 684, rally participants
included members of other UE Erie (PA)-area locals, members of other unions
(including striking members of Local 1199P at the Lutheran Home in Erie) and