Indiana Gas Co., 623 (1999)

Docket Number:25-CA-25438
 
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Indiana Gas Company, Inc. and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 1393, a/w International Brotherhood Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO and Darlene Notter. Cases 25- CA-25438 and 25-CA-25674

May 28, 1999

DECISION AND ORDER

BY CHAIRMAN TRUESDALE AND MEMBERS LIEBMAN AND BRAME

On August 28, 1998, Administrative Law Judge Marion C. Ladwig issued the attached decision. The General Counsel filed exceptions and a supporting brief, and the Respondent filed an answering brief.

The National Labor Relations Board has delegated its authority in this proceeding to a three-member panel.

The Board has considered the decision and the record in light of the exceptions and briefs and has decided to affirm the judge's rulings, findings,1 and conclusions as modified and to adopt the recommended Order as modified.2

We find merit in the General Counsel's exception to the judge's failure to find that the Respondent violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act when it told an employee that it could no longer trust union employees.

In spring 1997, the Respondent's field supervisor, John Friend, and operations manager, John Burke, began meeting with employees Darlene Notter and Ricardo Riggs about the possibility of creating another meter reader position. Friend told them not to discuss the new position with anyone and that if Union Steward Walters learned about it, they could lose their jobs. In April 1997, Burke, after speaking to Riggs and employee, David Ferguson about the new position, said that if they revealed anything to Walters, Burke would deny the conversation and Riggs could be bumped from his meter reader position.

When Walters learned of the new position from Ferguson, Walters spoke to Notter and Riggs, who confirmed what Walters had heard. Afterward, Burke and Friend met again with Riggs. Burke said that he could not trust any of the union employees anymore and that he was upset. Burke asked Riggs if he wanted to be a locator.3

Friend then asked if Riggs wanted to remain a meter

reader. When Riggs said yes, Friend replied that Riggs could be bumped.

1 The General Counsel has excepted to some of the judge's credibility findings. The Board's established policy is not to overrule an administrative law judge's credibility resolutions unless the clear preponderance of all the relevant evidence convinces us that they are incorrect. Standard Dry Wall Products, 91 NLRB 544 (1950), enfd. 188 F.2d 362 (3d Cir. 1951). We have carefully examined the record and find no basis for reversing the findings.

2 The judge inadvertently included broad injunctive language in his recommended Order, although he properly used narrow language in his notice. We shall modify the recommended Order to conform to the notice in this respect.

3 A locator position would be a demotion for Riggs.

The judge correctly found that the Respondent violated Section 8(a)(1) when Friend warned Notter and Riggs that if they told the union steward about the new meter reader position, they could lose their jobs, and when Burke told Riggs and Ferguson that if they told the union steward about the new position, Riggs could be bumped from his meter reader job.4 However, the judge failed to address the complaint allegation that Burke's later statement to Riggs that Burke could not trust union employees also violated the Act.

By stating that he could not trust union employees anymore, Burke clearly expressed his displeasure with Riggs for engaging in union activity by informing the union steward about the conversations with management concerning the new meter reader position. The statement was followed immediately by implied threats of demotion for engaging in that activity.5 Together, these comments certainly conveyed the message that the employees' union activity was tantamount to disloyalty to Burke, for which there could be adverse consequences. Under the circumstances, we agree with the General Counsel that Burke's statement that he could not trust union employees anymore because they revealed jobrelated information to their union steward would reasonably tend to restrain and coerce employees from en-gaging in further union activities in violation of Section 8(a)(1).

ORDER

The National Labor Relations Board adopts the recommended Order of the administrative law judge as modified below and orders that the Respondent, Indiana Gas Company, Inc., Danville, Indiana, its officers, agents, successors, and assigns, shall take the action set forth in the Order as modified.

  1. Substitute the following for paragraphs 1(b) and (c). "(b) Telling employees that it could not trust union employees because the employees revealed to their union steward information it gave them about their jobs.

    "(c) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed them by Section 7 of the Act."

  2. Substitute the attached notice for that of the administrative law judge.

    4 The Respondent has not excepted to the findings of those violations.

    5 See L'Ermitage Hotel, 268 NLRB 744, 749 (1984), enfd. sub nom. Ashkenazy Property Management Corp. v. NLRB, 796 F.2d 479 (9th Cir. 1986).

    APPENDIX

    NOTICE TO EMPLOYEES

    POSTED BY ORDER OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD An Agency of the United States Government

    The National Labor Relations Board has found that we violated the National Labor Relations Act and has ordered us to post and abide by this notice.

    Section 7 of the Act gives employees these rights.

    To organize

    To form, join, or assist any union

    To bargain collectively through representatives of their own choice

    To act together for other mutual aid or protection To choose not to engage in any of these protected concerted activities.

    WE WILL NOT threaten you with the loss or transfer of jobs if you reveal to the union steward or representative information the Company gives you about your jobs.

    WE WILL NOT tell you that we cannot trust union employees...

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