Justice prevailed in El Paso, Texas yesterday. For the first time in 35 years, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of an NLRB injunction, which requires a garbage collection and disposal company to rehire 32 union-supporting employees.
In the fall of 2007, the employees of El Paso Disposal (EPD) went on strike after the company refused to bargain with their union, the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). Within a week, EPD hired a team of strikebreakers to replace the union members. By December, the union offered to end the strike and return to work, but EPD refused to re-hire them.
Under the National Labor Relations Act, if workers call a strike over unfair labor practices, they must be given their jobs back if and when they offer to return. Even if replacement workers have been hired. By keeping the strikebreakers and denying the union members their jobs, EPD violated the Act.
In July 2009, after issuing several complaints against EPD, NLRB Regional Director Cornele Overstreet sought a temporary injunction to halt the illegal activity until the matter was resolved through the NLRB’s administrative processes. The district court granted the injunction, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision after EPD appealed.
The court said it best: “A refusal to reinstate in this case would merely reward EPD for its unfair labor practices.” The Fifth Circuit’s decision was a great victory for the employees of El Paso Disposal, and a reminder to businesses everywhere that there are consequences for mistreating workers.