There is a recent business dispute involving a corporation and its union which is of utmost national concern. The dispute involved Waste Management Incorporated and the Teamsters Local 70 union which is composed of 500 Teamsters. It is believed that the business dispute will have serious consequences for residents who rely on the daily collection of garbage by the said company.
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If this dispute continues then trash in every household may probably be picked up by the company only once every other week. (“East Bay Labor Dispute Puts Jobs, Recycling On Hold”) If garbage piles up in the streets then disease may probably come in. Thus, serious health issues may result if this problem between the Waste Management Inc. is not addressed immediately.
According to the news report, the Waste Management Incorporated has decided to file a case of unfair labor practice against the Teamsters Union after it announced a lockout of its 500 Oakland-area workers. (“Clash Over Trash in Alameda County”)The decision to order a lockout was made after negotiations with the union representing its employees was placed on deadlock despite the efforts of the company to reach a new agreement with the union and after rumors spread that the union will conduct a strike action against the company.
It must be stressed that the contract between the management and its employees recently expired on June 30. As a result, negotiations between them for better wages, benefits, and pensions have started. However, several days after the negotiation has started a new contract is yet to be entered into by both parties. Reports say that company was forced to order a lockout after the union failed to submit its own proposal to the company and after it was informed that one of the options being contemplated by the union is the conduct of a strike action against the company. Despite however of the announcement of a lockout, the company states that garbage collection will continue as they have hired new employees that will replace the old employees. Meanwhile, the union stands firm in its pledge, which it made earlier, alleging that they will not conduct a strike action and will instead continue with good faith negotiations even after the expiration of its contract of June 30. (“Teamsters Denounce Waste Management's Decision to Lockout 500 Workers”)
The issue in dispute is whether it was legal for the company, Waste Management Inc., to announce a lockout after negotiations with the union stopped. Another issue is whether the company violated its duty to bargain in good faith with the Teamsters Local 70; and whether Teamsters Local 70 is guilty of unfair labor practice in failing to submit its own proposal to the management for the renewal of the terms of their agreement.
Under the law, both the union and the management are under obligations to bargain with each other in good faith. This means that they have the mutual obligation to meet and confer promptly and expeditiously and in good faith for the purpose of negotiating an agreement with respect to wages, hours of work and other terms and conditions of payment. The requirement to bargain with each other is in keeping with the state policy of ensuring that the right of the employees to organize and bargain collectively with their employees and to engage in another protected concerted activity, or to refrain from any of such activity, with or without a union is protected.
In case either one of the management or the union fails to discharge this obligation, then a case for unfair labor practice may be filed against them with the National Labor Relations Board. It must be stressed however that the case must be filed within six (6) months from the time of the commission of the act complained of otherwise the cause of action is deemed to have prescribed and such case will no longer be entertained by the National Labor Relations Board.
The complaining party who wishes to file a charge for unfair labor practice must be ready to inform the board of the name and address of the union or the employer. He is also required to state his present address and must sign the charge filed. The charge must also include the pertinent and relevant evidence that will prove the charge of unfair labor practice against either the union or the employer. The charge will eventually be sent to either the employer or the union against whom a charge has been filed.
A review of the charge will then be immediately conducted to determine the sufficiency of the charge filed. If after a review of the evidence it appears that a violation has occurred, the employer or the union may be asked to remedy the situation. If the charged party refuses to remedy the situation then a formal complaint will be issued and the case will be set for hearing with the Administrative Law Judge. In this hearing all the pieces of evidence will be presented for the purpose of determining whether an unfair labor practice was committed. The decision of the Administrative Law Judge may be appealed to the National Labor Relations Board which is composed of five members. The decision of the National Labor Relations Board may be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for review.
This business dispute for the commission of unfair labor practices against the union is a civil case, not a criminal case. The main difference between a civil case and a criminal case is that in a civil case, the complaining party is the injured party while in a criminal case, the complaining party is the state. In a civil case, a lesser degree of evidence is required to prove the guilt of the person charged which is the preponderance of evidence while in a criminal case the degree of evidence required is proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. In a civil case, the penalty only involves the payment of fine while in a criminal case the penalty will involve imprisonment aside from payment of fines.
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