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Boss Goes Berserk, Drives into Picketers
Written by Erin Johansson   
January 09, 2008

No, this isn’t a horror movie.  It’s not even the National Enquirer.  It’s a National Labor Relations Board case including an account of an employer who nearly killed her striking employees in an anti-union rampage. 

When the owner of Advanced Architectural Metals in Nevada refused to pay workers the wages and benefits defined in their contract, they decided to strike in protest in July 2006.  The owner responded by firing all the employees and leaving threatening voice mail messages: “I’ve got a gun and if any of yous [sic] are on my property…I’ll shoot you dead.” 

Here’s the administrative law judge’s account of what happened once the employees began picketing:

Irish [the owner] came out of the building, yelled at the employees, and said that she had a big truck and if the employees got in her way, she would run them over. She then got into her truck, and drove directly at Sala [an employee], who was standing on the sidewalk, away from the driveway.  Irish had to veer off the driveway and onto the sidewalk as she drove her truck at Sala. She stopped her truck within inches of Sala’s body. Sala reflexly [sic] put his arms out, and her truck hit his hands. Fortunately, a post in the sidewalk stopped Irish’s further progress at Sala.

As picketing lasted for weeks, the owner continued to recklessly drive at the workers.  Where was the government to protect these workers?  According to the judge, the police were called to the scene yet refused to arrest the owner, and instead warned the workers not to block the driveway. 

As for the NLRB, the agency could have pursued a 10(j) injunction to immediately reinstate the fired workers once it issued a complaint in July 2006.  Instead, the case went through the normal legal channels and was decided last month by the Labor Board, which upheld the judge’s order to reinstate the workers.  But of course, because of the law’s toothless penalties, the Board could only order the owner to post a notice in the workplace promising not to threaten and assault her employees again. 

UPDATE 4/1/08: I owe an apology to the hardworking staff of the NLRB who pursued two injunctions against Lori Irish, the employer who tried to run down her striking employees.  When I covered this unbelievable case, I wrongly assumed the NLRB had not pursued injunctions.  In fact, the NLRB successfully won a 10(j) injunction to reinstate the workers that Irish had fired before the Board issued its ruling, and won a 10(e) injunction to freeze Irish’s assets in order to recoup the backpay she owes the fired workers.  Nice work!