IBEW no longer representing workers at Concordia Electric

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 1, 2000

JONESVILLE , La. – The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers will no longer represent employees at Concordia Electric, at least for now, an IBEW official said Wednesday.

That is because an employee of the electric cooperative, Kenneth Trisler, submitted a petition late last month to decertify the union, and IBEW has decided it does not have enough support at the company to push for a vote on the issue.

The union needs a simple majority of the company’s 54 workers to vote against decertification to continue representing workers there, said Joe Pledger, an international representative based at the IBEW’s Birmingham, Ala., regional office.

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Besides, if an election was held and the union was decertified, the union would have to wait one year to hold another election, Pledger added. But without an election, the union can return in six months to petition to become the employees’ representative once again.

&uot;We just felt we didn’t have a need for a union. Things are going really good the way they are,&uot; Trisler said. He said about 80 percent of employees favored the petition. According to the National Labor Relations Board, with whom the petition was filed, a petition must have the support of at least 30 percent of employees.

Pledger said he believes workers supported the petition because they felt intimidated by the Dec. 1 firing of former Local 788 President DeWayne Guice.

&uot;When employees saw that a strong union guy like that could get fired, they got quiet really quick,&uot; Pledger said.

Guice filed charges on Jan. 31 with the NLRB, claiming he was fired as retaliation for his involvement with the IBEW.

But the NLRB’s New Orleans regional office and Washington Office of Appeals both rejected Guice’s charges, saying an investigation showed that Concordia Electric fired Guice for work-related reasons and did not violate the National Labor Relations Act.

&uot;The investigation disclosed that the employer had a good faith belief that Mr. Guice had engaged in various infractions on company time,&uot;&160;said Office of Appeals Director Yvonne Dixon.

The charges followed several years of union-management problems at the company.

In December, U.S. Magistrate Judge Lance Africk ordered the company to strike a deal with Local 788 — more than six years after workers first voted to start the union.

The company has said it is exempt from NLRB requirements because it is a public body, a view rejected by the NLRB and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

It has also 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.