U.S. Government Issues Complaint Against Quebecor World
Friday, October 01, 2004
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 -- Today the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against Quebecor World, Inc., formally accusing the multinational printing company of intimidating, threatening, coercing, and spying on workers in Mississippi and Tennessee because of their union activities, and firing a worker for refusing to spy on his pro-union co-workers. A complaint is equivalent to an indictment under NLRB procedures. In a separate development, the NLRB's Region 32 director announced that he has found merit in two new charges against Quebecor World pertaining to alleged unlawful anti-union conduct at the company's Fernley, Nev., facility. In issuing today's complaint, the NLRB has indicated that it has concluded its investigation of charges filed by company employees and the Graphic Communications International Union (GCIU), strongly believes in the validity of the allegations, and will prosecute a case against the company. The complaint alleges that Quebecor World violated U.S. federal labor laws on 22 counts, accusing the Quebec-based printing company of aggressively preventing workers from forming a union at its Corinth, Miss., and Covington, Tenn., facilities. According to the complaint, Quebecor World repeatedly threatened, intimidated, coerced, and spied on employees attempting to organize; forced employees to actively campaign against the union; prevented employees from distributing union literature; discriminated against and reassigned pro-union workers; and terminated a worker for refusing to spy on his pro-union co- workers. The labor board will present its evidence in support of the charges to an administrative law judge in December. According to Ronald K. Hooks, Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board in Memphis, Tenn., who signed the complaint, Quebecor World violated the National Labor Relations Act by: * "interfering with, restraining and coercing employees in exercise of [their] rights"; * "discriminating in regard to the hire or tenure or terms or conditions of employment of its employees, thereby discouraging membership in a labor organization"; * "threaten[ing] employees with discharge because they supported the Union." "I got fired for refusing to spy on my co-workers who were trying to organize a union," stated Carl Rogers, a printing press worker formerly employed in the Covington plant. "We have been saying all along that the company uses illegal, union-busting tactics, and now we have the full weight of the U.S. government behind us. The company can no longer hide behind the false claim that it treats its workers fairly." The complaint is significant because it demonstrates a pattern of coercion by Quebecor World management in an effort to deprive workers of their right to form a union. The NLRB previously found merit in three additional unfair labor practice charges filed by workers employed at Quebecor World's Versailles, Ky., plant, and the company agreed to a settlement of those charges with the labor board. In addition to these charges, the NLRB regional director in Oakland, Calif., has found merit in two new unfair labor practice charges filed by Quebecor World employees at the company's Fernley, Nev., plant. These charges pertain to Quebecor World's actions prohibiting employees from distributing union materials, threatening union supporters for engaging in lawful distribution of union literature, and instituting access policies designed to stifle union activity. Non-union Quebecor World workers have been campaigning for months for the right to join a union free from management interference and harassment and through a fair majority verification process (also known as "card check"). "The labor board complaint validates our charges that we are working in an environment of management harassment and intimidation," stated Keith Rushing, a worker employed at the Covington, Tenn., plant. "The company has been mistreating its employees who want nothing more than to exercise our right to freedom of association." "The U.S. government is making the case that these workers have been intimidated and harassed," stated GCIU International President George Tedeschi. "It is clear that Quebecor World has destroyed the 'laboratory conditions' necessary for free and fair elections on union representation. These workers deserve a just process to decide whether or not to form a union -- and that process must include a halt to the company's unfair interference with the employees' choice and an expedited and fair mechanism to determine majority support." During a previous organizing campaign in Dickson, Tenn., the National Labor Relations Board found that the company unlawfully fired a worker who openly supported forming a union. The labor board forced the company to reinstate that worker with back pay, and the workers eventually organized with the GCIU. Quebecor World workers throughout the United States are trying to form a union with the GCIU as part of the Justice@Quebecor campaign. The campaign continues to win growing support from elected officials such as Sen. John Kerry, religious leaders, community leaders, and many of Quebecor's customers. The Justice@Quebecor campaign, launched in December 2003, is an unprecedented effort by Quebecor workers and their unions throughout the world to win basic human rights on the job at Quebecor World's facilities. Workers in the United States want a fair, democratic process to form a union -- free from management's harassment and intimidation.