NLRB says union violated labor laws

Michael P. Tremoglie Jun. 12, 2012, 9:45am

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The National Labor Relations Board has upheld an administrative judge's verdict against a union president who allegedly tried to tale unlawful action against an organizer for District 13 of the Communications Worker of America.

The NLRB ruled that James Gardler, the president of CWA Local 13000, AFL-CIO, "attempted to cause Communications Workers of America, District 13, (Pamela) Tronsor's employer, to discharge or otherwise discriminate against her." The matter involved a 2011 NLRB hearing at which Tronsor was supposed to testify. The hearing concerned an alleged unlawful termination of another CWA employee.

Gardler believed that Tronsor was trying to obtain press coverage of the NLRB proceeding. According to official documents Gardler expressed that "he was shocked that Tronsor would attempt to have someone cover a hearing that could embarrass the union and hamper it in organizing drives."

According to these same records though, NLRB determined that Tronsor "was fearful that publicity about the Board hearing could damage the CWA and the union movement generally." Tronsor contacted someone and asked if a particular Philadelphia Inquirer reporter could be assigned to cover the hearing. Allegedly, it was an attempt to have a reporter, sympathetic to the union, assigned to the case to show the union in a good light.

But Gardler interpreted Tronsor's effort in the opposite way. When Tronsor asked for assistance in an organizing effort, Gardler responded to her, "As I stated in that letter, you are not deserving of a staff position or any position within the CWA. This Local and our members will not work with you on any level."

Gardler defended his action and stated that Tronsor is not employed by his local and he did not make a request that District 13 take any action against Tronsor.

But the NLRB issued a cease and desist order. The stated reason offered, according to the official order, said, "It is obvious that an attempt to publicize a Board proceeding constitutes protected concerted activity, even when it could cause harm to the employer's or the union's reputation ,and that threats against an employee in retaliation for assisting the Board in an unfair labor practice or a representation case."

Addressing the issue of not being employed directly by Gardler the NLRB said, "The principal allegation is that the Respondent attempted to cause District 13 to discharge, or otherwise discriminate against, Tronsor. This allegation does not require that the alleged wrongdoer, herein the Respondent, have an employer-employee relationship with Tronsor, and neither does the Act, which, in defining the term "employee," states that it "shall not be limited to the employees of a particular employer, unless the Act explicitly states otherwise."

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