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SEIU Affiliate Accused of Punishing Dissenting Employees


"Coercing employees in the exercising of rights guaranteed."

Two employees who voiced support for a rival union were wrongfully dismissed during contract negotiations with a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) affiliate, according to a complaint issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

According to the complaint, the SEIU-affiliated Rochester Regional Joint Board of Workers United carried out unfair labor practices by "negotiating to insert new language in a labor contract that reduced the pay and work opportunities of the employees," The Examiner reports.  Both dismissed individuals were employees of Sodexo who worked in cafeteria and catering jobs in New York.

After an investigation, NLRB found there was enough evidence to support the employees' allegations that Workers United engaged in illegal conduct against them in retaliation for their support of a rival union, Local 471-UNITE HERE. The NLRB complaint specifically alleges that during negotiations for a new contract in May 2010, Workers United, an SEIU affiliate, demanded new contract language that reduced the vacation pay of Rodrigue.

The SEIU affiliate reportedly also demanded that catering assignments be based on seniority, reducing the work opportunities and pay of one of the anti-union employees.

The NLRB alleges that the SEIU affiliate engaged in this illegal conduct to retaliate against [the two employees], who supported Local 471-UNITE HERE, and also "to discourage other employees from supporting" Local 471-UNITE HERE.

By this conduct, the union "has been restraining and coercing employees in the exercising of rights guaranteed" under federal labor laws, according to the complaint. As part of the remedy for the alleged unfair labor practices, the NLRB is seeking to have Workers United pay lost wages, with interest, to the affected workers.

The SEIU-affiliated union -- not the Sodexo company -- must answer to the complaint by Wednesday and an NLRB Administrative Law Judge will rule in a hearing on the complaint in January.

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