New Labor Board validates order favoring Aggregate Industries NE

Sources: National Labor Relations Board; CP staff

The newly constituted NLRB has adopted an administrative law judge’s decision dismissing a Teamsters Local 42 complaint that alleged Aggregate Industries Northeast Region failed to negotiate in good faith during collective bargaining sessions for a May 2008–April 2011 contract successor. It marked one of the first pending-case actions for the agency, which as of mid-August has four new Members and a Chairman beginning a five-year term—all following Senate confirmation last month.

Board Members officially dismissed a complaint by a union representing mixer and haul truck drivers at Aggregate Industries NE ready mixed and quarry sites in Saugus and Swampscott, Mass., respectively. The producer has collective bargaining agreements with Teamsters Locals 25 and 170 covering additional Boston area operations. In his June 2013 decision, NLRB ALJ Steven Davis noted that in May–August 2011 bargaining sessions with Local 42—on the heels of contract renewals with Local 25 and 170 members—Aggregate Industries NE sought changes in provisions for unit drivers’ territorial jurisdiction; seniority and job bidding; work guarantees; plus health and welfare, pension and vacation benefits. Negotiations proceeded with the producer offering an economic package equivalent to $36.25/hour—$7 below the prior contract—and the union seeking a $44/hour package.

After failing to reach an agreement, the producer implemented final contract offer terms for Saugus and Swampscott drivers in early August 2011, with changes in wage rates, work and seniority rules, and work guarantees to unit members within a certain geographic boundary. They triggered Local 42’s complaint alleging that Aggregate Industries NE had not bargained to a good-faith impasse.

In testimony to ALJ Davis, an Aggregate Industries NE human resources manager indicated that changes sought in the post-April 2011 contract reflected dramatic declines in concrete business following the 2005 completion of Boston’s Big Dig project. Decreasing sales saw the price of concrete drop, competition increase and “loss of millions of dollars in earnings per year.” The producer attributed losses to onerous contracts with various unions, Local 42’s agreement having “the most expensive cost structure.” The HR manager also noted that through 2007, Aggregate Industries NE was bidding work at a loss. It changed course in 2008-2010, pursuing jobs where it could profit—typically ones that could be performed without Local 42 members. The Saugus and Swampscott plants were closed from early 2009 through 2011, although drivers worked sporadically at other facilities.