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Arbitrator Rules Quebecor World Violated Agreement with Teamsters

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Press release from the issuing company

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 -- An independent arbitrator has ruled that Quebecor World Inc., the second largest printing company in the world, violated an agreement with the Graphic Communications Conference of the Teamsters Union in a union election held at its Covington, Tennessee, plant in November 2005. In the decision issued Monday, the neutral arbitrator upholds the union's charges, saying, "I have no hesitancy in concluding the company was 'engaged' in a systematic campaign to convince its employees of the risks and futility of unionization." The arbitrator ruled that the company's actions were a direct violation of QW's May 2005 agreement with the GCC/IBT in which QW agreed to "make no statement or action showing opposition to unionization." The Teamsters engaged in a hard-fought two-year campaign to represent workers at QW's North American plants when the company agreed to negotiate a less adversarial process. After months of bargaining, Quebecor signed an agreement with the union that spelled out, in detail, company and union behavior during representation elections. According to Teamster representatives, the agreement was intended to allow workers a free and fair process to choose representation. The arbitrator cited company statements to workers about plant closings, wage freezes, and benefit cuts, ruling, "the systematic manner in which the company repeatedly placed carefully chosen and almost invariably negative facts before the workforce is sufficient to satisfy me that any reasonable reader or listener would conclude that the company was showing its opposition to unionization of its workforce at Covington." Among other examples, the arbitrator cited a flier issued the day before the election reiterating veiled threats of job loss and plant closure if workers chose to unionize. He concluded that, "...no reasonable, disinterested person can walk away from the totality of the presentations without a clear sense of the company's position: unionization and collective bargaining are nonproductive and dangerous for employees and should be avoided. I call that 'showing opposition.'" "We made a good-faith effort to begin a new relationship with this company," said Jeff Farmer, Teamsters Director of Organizing. "The arbitrator has supported our charge that the company broke its word to remain neutral and resorted to the same old anti-union playbook. This decision puts Quebecor World on notice that it can't get away with violating the neutrality agreement in the upcoming union elections in QW plants nationwide." Farmer added that the Covington workers would get another chance to vote for union representation next November. "If QW honors its agreement, Covington workers can finally make a decision free from company interference," he said. The arbitrator's decision comes on the heels of a January 31 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaint issued against QW for labor violations at its Fernley, Nevada, plant, where workers voted for union representation with the GCC/IBT in July 2005. The NLRB issued a complaint against the company for discriminating against its employees based on their union activity.

 

 

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