Administrative Law Judge Rules Against Tecnocap

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled against Glen Dale’s Tecnocap, LLC for a series of business practices that resulted in a nine-day lockout last year of around 70 union workers.

In the ruling, issued April 5 by Administrative Law Judge Michael A. Rosas, Tecnocap management was found to have violated federal labor laws by locking out workers with United Steelworkers, while allowing those who resigned their membership to return to work. Additionally, Tecnocap was found to have unlawfully implemented a change in the scope of the bargaining unit.

Rosas’ decision ordered Tecnocap to reimburse the workers for the nine days they were unlawfully locked out from working, to remove any reference to the lockout and notify the employees that it will not be used against them, as well as other orders such as providing signage notifying employees of their right to join, form or assist a union.

Bargaining between Tecnocap and the union were held several times between October 2017 and March 2018, before negotiations broke down. The lockout was held from March 12 to March 21.

Lisa Wilds, USW Local 152M president, said Rosas’ ruling was unsurprising, given Tecnocap’s behavior, but the future of employment at Tecnocap was going to be a struggle. She said the union’s struggle with Tecnocap began with the passage of Right to Work in West Virginia.

“We knew the company was in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. The wording in the Act is not ambiguous in any way,” Wilds said. “The company took a hard stance on how they are with unions right after Right to Work was passed. We’ve been owned by Tecnocap since 2006 and we hadn’t had any trouble getting contracts, getting agreements, in all that time. But as soon as Right to Work passed, it was a war on unions. … They went to the table and had no interest in getting a contract.”

Union labor represents around 60 percent of the employees at Tecnocap, according to Wilds’ estimates.

Karen Shipley, representing USW District 8, echoed Wilds’ sentiments, saying that Tecnocap did not seem cordial for future negotiations.

“The relationship changed a few years ago, and it’s not getting better,” she said. “We have grievances, nothing’s getting resolved, everything’s getting tied up in court. The company challenges those and goes up to the next level.

“We had a difficult relationship with the facility, and this win was big for us. It was huge. But will it soften the relationship? I don’t forsee that at all,” she said. “Compromise is something (Tecnocap does) not deal with well.”

Calls to Tecnocap seeking comment were not returned by press time Friday.

In January 2018, the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers International Union formally merged with United Steelworkers, with a Merger Agreement providing that the merger would not interrupt any collective bargaining agreements.

Shortly after the lockout, in an unrelated contract dispute, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 54 went on strike from Tecnocap. The union, which represented 30 workers at the time, went on strike beginning in April. The matter was not resolved until August.

The IAMAW rejected an offered contract which would have significantly increased health insurance costs for workers.

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