Titan appeals decision on charges filed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 1999

There’s nothing illegal about a local union’s picketing activities, according to a recent federal decision.

But Titan Tire, who filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board against United Steelworkers of America Local 303L, is appealing that decision.

On Friday, Titan filed an appeal with NLRB’s general counsel in Washington of Regional Director Curtis Wells’ decision not to pursue charges Titan filed against a local union chapter.

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Wells ruled on Feb. 25 that the picketing activities of Local 303L did not violate the National Labor Relations Act.

&uot;(Those activities) are for the purposes of informing the public of its ongoing labor dispute with the employer,&uot;&160;Wells said in a letter to Russell Ash, advisor to Titan Chairman Morry Taylor.

In the letter, Wells also stated that, contrary to Titan’s charges, the union did not cause Titan to discriminate against employees of the Natchez plant.

&uot;We felt that decision was subject to appeal, so we did,&uot; Ash said Tuesday. &uot;That’s the right of every citizen and company in America.&uot;

Local 303L filed its own charges against Titan last September.

The union charged that since early September, Titan had refused to hire people who would not promise not to participate in union activities, including the current strike.

Workers have been on strike from Titan since early September.

The union also charged that Titan has tried to discourage workers from joining the union by &uot;conditioning wages, benefits … upon refraining from (union activity).&uot;

But the union later withdrew those charges and, on Jan. 29, submitted more detailed ones to the NLRB.

In the documents, Local 303L&160;charges, among other things, that Titan violated the National Labor Relations Act by:

n Promising employees increased benefits if they resigned from the union.

n Questioning applicants about their willingness to cross a picket line.

n Failing to consider union members for employment.

n Requiring applicants to attend pre-employment training without prior notification and bargaining with the union.

&uot;Those charges are currently under investigation,&uot;&160;said Rodney Johnson, Wells’ assistant, who is based at the NLRB’s regional office in New Orleans.

&uot;It’s our intention to make a decision on these new charges within the next 30 days,&uot;&160;he added.

Of the new charges, Ash would only say that &uot;it’s their right to file charges are often as they want to, and there’s nothing we can do about it.&uot;

If Wells decides that there is enough evidence to support the union’s charges, he will first attempt to negotiate a settlement that is agreeable to both parties.

If a settlement cannot be reached, Wells will issue a complaint and the case will be assigned to an administrative law judge.

If Wells decides there is not enough evidence for a trial, he will ask the union to withdraw its charges. If the union refuses, the NLRB will dismiss the charges itself.