Standard-Coosa-Thatcher, 304 (1981)

Docket Number:10-CA-14634
 
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DECISIONS OF NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD

Standard-Coosa-Thatcher, Carpet Yarn Division, Inc.

and Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, AFL-CIO, CLC. Cases 10-CA14634 and 10-RC-11707

July 29, 1981 DECISION AND ORDER

On July 7, 1980, Administrative Law Judge Claude R. Wolfe issued the attached Decision in this proceeding. Thereafter, the Charging Party and the Respondent, respectively, filed exceptions and supporting briefs.

The Board has considered the record and the attached Decision in light of the exceptions and briefs, and has decided to affirm the rulings, findings,' and conclusions2 of the Administrative Law Judge and to adopt his recommended Order, as modified herein.

Johnnie's PoultrySafeguards As more fully described by the Administrative Law Judge, the credited testimony shows that Martha C. Perrin, the Respondent's counsel, advised employee Willis Langston that she was the Respondent's lawyer and that her inquiry about his authorization card was in preparation for hearing.

Perrin asked Langston whether he had signed the card which was in front of them and whether employer Bobby Joe King described the purpose of the card to Langston. Langston promptly replied that he had read and signed the card and that there was no need for having King explain the purpose of the card because Langston knew what he was signing. The credited testimony also shows that Perrin neither read the prepared statement3 to Langston nor orally recited the safeguards therein.

'The Respondent and the Charging Party have excepted to certain credibility findings made by the Administrative Law Judge. It is the Board's established policy not to overrule an administrative law judge's resolutions with respect to credibility unless the clear preponderance of all of the relevant evidence convinces us that the resolutions are incorrect. Standard Dry Wall Products. Inc., 91 NLRB 544 (1950), enfd. 188

F.2d 362 (3d Cir. 1951). We have carefully examined the record and find no basis for reversing his findings.

In sec. IV,C,4(a), of his Decision, the Administrative Law Judge inadvertently referred to Plant Manager Jack Bowman as 'employee Bowman' and omitted Whisenant's question to Bowman. Thus, the third sentence, immediately following the sentence ending with footnote reference 35, should read: 'Whisenant asked Bowman 'if our benefits would be taken away if the Union comes in.' Plant Manager Bowman acknowledged that the leaflet was correct and continued that after negotiations commenced benefits could go up or down or remain the same.' 2 In the absence of exceptions, we adopt, pro forma, the Administrative Law Judge's dismissal of the allegation that Lowery's interrogation of Underwood, on or about April 19, 1979, violated Sec. 8(a)(l) of the Act.

I The prepared statement, set out in the Administrative Law Judge's Decision, explains, inter alia, that Perrin's purpose in talking with the employees was to help the Respondent prepare for an unfair labor practice hearing and that the interview was strictly voluntary on the employee's part.

257 NLRB No. 45

The Administrative Law Judge found that the only real issue is whether Perrin's failure to assure Langston that there would be no reprisals rendered her inquiry violative of the Act. Although the Administrative Law Judge found that a strict application of the Johnnie's Poultry4 standards would appear to require finding a violation, he nevertheless dismissed the allegation. In so doing, the Administrative Law Judge found that Perrin properly advised every one of 70 employees interviewed except Langston of the safeguards, that the content of the meetings was widely known among the employees, and that 'Langston was most likely forewarned about the content of the interviews.' Hence, the Administrative Law Judge found that the coercive impact of Perrin's questions was minimal and he dismissed the allegation. We disagree.

Compliance with Johnnie's Poultry safeguards is the minimum required to dispel the potential for coercion in circumstances where an employee is interrogated concerning his intended testimony before the Board.5

The effect of the Administrative Law Judge's Decision here is to substitute a different standard. He would excuse compliance where an employee 'was most likely forewarned about the content of the interviews.' But Johnnie's Poultry safeguards require the Respondent not only to explain the purpose of the questions but also to assure the employee 'that no reprisal will take place, and obtain his participation on a voluntary basis - '6 It is plain that the Respondent failed to satisfy these requirements in connection with Perrin's interrogation of Langston. We are not prepared to rely on speculation and surmise to infer compliance or to excuse the failure to provide the safeguards to Langston because the Respondent satisfied them with respect to other employees. The effect of the Respondent's failure to provide the safeguards during the Langston interrogation is the same whether by design or inadvertence. Hence, we find that the Respondent violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act by coercively interrogating employee Langston with regard to the verification of the Union's majority.

The Bargaining Order The Administrative Law Judge found, and the record shows, that the Union represented a majority of the Respondent's employees in the unit when the Union requested, and the Respondent refused, recognition in March 1979. The Administrative Law Judge also found that 'Respondent's conduct 'Johnnie's Poultry Co. and John Bishop Poultry Co., Successor, 146

NLRB 770 (1964).

Roadway Express, Inc., 239 NLRB 653 (1978).

6146 NLRB at 775.

304

STANDARD-COOSA-THATCHER, CARPET YARN DIVISION had 'the tendency to undermine [the Union's] majority strength and impede the election processes,' that the continuing impact of Respondent's coercive conduct renders a fair election unlikely, and that the authorization cards signed by employees are a more reliable indication of their desire for representation.' We agree.

In adopting the Administrative Law Judge's findings and recommendations, supra, we have taken into account that the serious and extensive unlawful activities by the Respondent commenced immediately after the Union began its organization drive and continued unabated right up to the election and even after the election. Thus, between the beginning of the organizational campaign in early February and the election held on May 18, the Respondent violated the Act by numerous instances of interrogation of employees about their union activities and those of other unit employees as well as by numerous threats of reprisals against employees because of their union activities. Such unlawful threats included threats of discharge, plant closure,7 loss of access to management, and insistence on contract terms unpalatable to unit employees.

Furthermore, the Respondent made unlawful implied promises of benefits to employees conditioned on the employees' abandonment of the Union. And the Respondent violated the Act by telling employees that the timing of work-related warnings was caused by the existence of union activities and by threatening employees with discharge because they engaged in concerted activity. After the election, the Respondent violated the Act by threatening retaliation against an employee because of her union activity and by the coercive interrogation of an employee concerning his intended testimony before the Board.

In addition to this plethora of acts of interference, restraint, and coercion against employees, the Respondent violated Section 8(a)(3) of the Act by more rigidly enforcing company work rules for the purpose of discouraging union activities. This policy contributed directly to the discriminatory discharge of union adherent Dennis Williams. As the Administrative Law Judge pointed out, the Respondent's enforcement of this policy after the campaign began 'would be the most effective way to short-circuit all such union activities.' Based on the foregoing, and the entire record in this case, we are persuaded that the Respondent's ' The Board has long held that the threat of job loss through plant closure or curtailment of operations interferes with employees' ability to make a free choice in an election. Thus, the threat of plant closure is among the most effective unfair labor practices for destroying election conditions for a longer period of time than other unfair labor practices.

See Ste-Mel Signs. Inc., 246 NLRB 1110 (1979). See also N.L.R.B v.

Gissel Packing Co., Inc., 395 U.S. 575, 611. fn 31 (1969).

unlawful activities warrant a bargaining order under Gissel.8 AMENDED CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

Insert the following as paragraph 2 and renumber the subsequent paragraph accordingly:

'2. By coercively interrogating employees concerning their intended testimony before the Board,

Respondent violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act.' ORDER

Pursuant to Section 10(c) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, the National Labor Relations Board adopts as its Order the recommended Order of the Administrative Law Judge, as modified below, and hereby orders that the Respondent,

Standard-Coosa-Thatcher, Carpet Yarn Division,

Inc., Boaz, Alabama, its officers, agents, successors, and assigns, shall take the action set forth in the said recommended Order, as so modified:9

  1. Insert the following as paragraph l(d) and reletter the subsequent paragraphs accordingly:

    '(d) Coercively interrogating its employees concerning their intended testimony before the Board.' 2. Substitute the attached notice for that of the Administrative Law Judge.

    IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the petition in Case 10-RC-1 1707 be, and it hereby is, dismissed.

    'On April 20, 1981, the Respondent filed a motion to have the Board take administrative notice of a letter dated March 5, 1981, in which the Regional Director for Region 10 declined to issue a complaint concerning allegations contained in a charge in...

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