Workers could get new union

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 1999

JONESVILLE, La. – A judge has ruled that Concordia Electric should strike a deal with its union as soon as possible — more than six years after employees first voted to start the union.

The recommendation was handed down last month by U.S. Magistrate Judge Lance M. Africk of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals at the request of the National Labor Relations Board.

Africk was appointed to make findings of fact and recommendations regarding the case. It would be up to the NLRB to issue an order forcing the company to execute a deal with the union. In February 1995, workers who were forming the union local asked Concordia Electric officials to enter into collective bargaining negotiations.

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When the company had not done so by August 1998, the NLRB filed suit with the Court of Appeals, asking the court to hold the company in civil contempt because it had not executed a contract.

In the past, the electric cooperative has said it is exempt from the NLRB’s requirements because it is a public body, a view rejected by the NLRB and the Court of Appeals.

Most recently, it argued that the union and the company agreed that union members would have to ratify an agreement before it would be executed.

But Africk disagreed, and has now said the company should execute a contract with Local 788 of the International Board of Electrical Workers — a union that was certified almost five years ago.

Africk also recommended that the company be made to post copies of his order for 60 days and to mail copies of the order to all people who worked at Concordia Electric on or after June 26, 1996.

Billy Harris, general manager of Concordia Electric refused to comment Tuesday. DeWayne Guice, president of Local 788, could not be reached for comment, and Darrell Welch, Concordia Electric’s chairman of the board, did not return calls Tuesday.