Workers win settlement over retaliation case
AUBURN — Three workers who lost their jobs during a union organizing drive at an Auburn aerospace company have been reinstated and awarded cash settlements.
The National Labor Relations Board approved the settlements last month in a case that started with complaints filed by Machinists Union District Lodge 751 against Imaginetics LLC.
The union filed unfair labor practice complaints against Imaginetics in 2015, after the company let go three workers it believed were taking part in a union organizing effort that started at the Auburn plant in November 2014.
The company brought the workers back about five months later, after District 751 filed the complaint with the NLRB. Lawyers for Imaginetics denied that the workers had been fired as a result of any union involvement.
“They tried to say the timing of the terminations and re-hiring was a coincidence, but this was a pretty clear-cut case of retaliation and attempted intimidation against working people who were exploring their options,” said IAM 751 Unionizing Director Jesse Cote.
Imaginetics agreed to settle the case after several days of testimony during a trial before a federal administrative law judge.
In addition to getting a cash settlement to cover the back pay they were owed, the workers also won guarantees making them “just cause” employees instead of “at will” — meaning they cannot be fired in the future unless the company could document specific problems with their work performance or other evidence they were intentionally trying to harm the company. .
The NLRB also ordered Imaginetics managers to post 30-day notices stating that workers at the company have the right to join a union and pledging that the company will not retaliate against workers who show interest in union membership.
“The Machinists Union has a long and proud history of having workers’ backs as we help them bring a union to their facilities,” said IAM 751 President Jon Holden. “All workers should know their federally protected rights under the National Labor Relations Act.”
Imaginetics, which is owned by Kidd & Co., a Connecticut-based investment fund, employs about 120 people at its plant in Auburn. Workers there fabricate and assemble parts for Boeing Co. airliners, as well as a number of Boeing military planes and helicopters. The company also provides parts for other aerospace suppliers.
Boeing has honored Imaginetics as one of the industry’s top suppliers every year since 2010, which is a strong testament to the quality of its workforce, Cote said. “These are highly skilled manufacturing workers, and they deserved to be treated as such.”
Under the terms of the settlement, the size of the cash payments to the three Imaginetics workers cannot be disclosed, but Cote said it was enough to resolve the issues at hand.
Similar settlements in previous cases involving other companies have ranged as high as $50,000, Cote said.
Originally formed in 1935 by hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents more than 33,000 working men and women at 52 employers across Washington and California.
Think you’d benefit from a union contract? Click here to talk to an IAM 751 representative about how to join the Machinists Union.