IMI prevails against NLRB challenge to non-bargaining unit mixer mechanics

Sources: National Labor Relations Board; CP staff

Administrative Law Judge Arthur Amchan dismissed an NLRB General Counsel complaint alleging that Irving Materials (IMI South) violated the National Labor Relations Act during a recent shift of mixer maintenance from a Louisville, Ky., plant to a new shop across the Ohio River in New Albany, Ind.

The NLRB General Counsel pursued a case on behalf of Teamsters Local 89, which challenged a) the transfer of duties of Louisville bargaining unit mechanics to non-unit peers in New Albany; and, b) IMI South’s refusal to reinstate six Louisville mechanics following a fall 2011–spring 2012 strike at their home plant. During the work stoppage, the producer hired two replacement mechanics in Louisville and two others for the new shop.

After a lengthy period of centralized truck servicing in Louisville, IMI South sought to add maintenance at its New Albany ready mixed plant. The new shop could serve that site’s fleet and mixers from five other southern Indiana operations, all having previously routed trucks to Louisville. Behind the New Albany shop opening was a State of Kentucky plan to repair the Interstate 65/Kennedy Bridge, one of only two truck-grade, Ohio River crossings linking Louisville and the markets IMI South serves from its southern Indiana plants. The shop was expedited after the Interstate 64/Sherman Minton Bridge—the second major Louisville–Indiana link—was closed, delaying for at least six months any Kennedy Bridge work.

In his case discussion, Judge Amchan indicated that Teamsters 89 officials were aware that some Louisville mechanics duties were being transferred to New Albany as collective bargaining proceeded on a successor to a contract expiring in May 2011, then extended through August, when the strike began. He also noted how the union had the opportunity to confirm if mixer maintenance at New Albany represented a permanent transfer of Louisville bargaining unit work, or a temporary measure in response to the work stoppage.

“When a union has actual notice of a change in conditions of employment … it must take advantage of that notice to preserve its bargaining right. Lack of diligence by a union amounts to a waiver of its rights to bargain,” Judge Amchan concludes.