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Union files unfair labor practice charges

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / October 19, 1998

CONVENT – United Steelworkers of America filed unfair labor practice charges against Kaiser Aluminum Wednesday for what they say are unlawful activities during strike negotiations.

Also, in a statement released Friday, meetings are set Oct. 21 and 22between Kaiser and union representatives, both of whom have agreed to meet with a federal mediator, in a location to be announced, according to Kaiser spokesman Chris Talley. He added, “details of a mediator’sinvolvement have yet to be finalized.”The charges, filed before the National Labor Relations Board in Oakland, Calif., allege Kaiser “has discriminated in regard to terms and conditionsof employment to discourage membership in a labor organization; has refused to bargain collectively in good faith with the representative of its employees (including but not limited to refusing to provide requested information relevant and necessary to collective bargaining negotiations); and has otherwise interfered with, restrained, and/or coerced employees in the exercise of the right guaranteed in Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.”Talley responded to the NLRB charges, “They’re false and totally without merit. That kinda sums it up, wouldn’t you say?”Union negotiator David Foster commented, “Our members sacrificed for 15 years to restore Kaiser’s profitability after leveraged buyouts and other corporate misadventures saddled the company with a billion dollars of debt.”Foster continued, “In the wake of a ‘best-ever’ performance that earned Kaiser over $168 million last year, it’s not unreasonable to ask the company to honor its word and restore the cuts our membership accepted to put the company back on its feet.”According to a union press statement, the labor practices included: “They told us they needed to take radical measures to improve productivity – and then unlawfully refused to provide us with critical information we needed to bargain over their demands.

“They told us they respected our rights – then they made a contract offer that would punish us if we exercised our legal right to strike.

“They told us we deserved to retire in dignity after a lifetime of service to the company – then unlawfully proposed to take away pension service from employees in retaliation for going on strike.

“They told us they wanted to work together to solve problems – then refused to bargain over important issues like safety welding and return to work protocols.”The strike began Sept. 30.

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