A local private bus company’s CEO set up a company-run union to thwart Teamsters’ efforts to build a legitimate workers’ union, according to recent court filings.
Now, a federal agency is moving to halt what it calls a “sham” union.
In a rare move, the National Labor Relations Board filed a petition for an injunction against Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation, requesting the U.S. District Court to step in and halt the practice.
Bauer’s runs commuter shuttles for Bay Area tech companies like Cisco Systems and Electronic Arts. The NLRB and Teamsters allege Bauer’s engaged in “intimidation” tactics, such as following employees and photographing them as they met with union organizers.
The Teamsters said they are trying to organize the tech shuttle drivers in efforts to garner higher wages and fair working practices.
The injunction was filed by the NLRB’s Region 20, headquartered in San Francisco. The filings express support for Teamsters Local 665 in seeking temporary relief from Bauer’s practices until matters are resolved at the NLRB.
That resolution is likely a year down the road, the NLRB argues, which is why it’s asking the court to halt Bauer’s alternative union in the short term.
“Such restraint is necessary now to prevent the irreparable harm likely to result from Respondent’s unlawful foisting upon its employees of a textbook, sham ‘company union,’” wrote local NLRB attorney Carmen Leon, to the court.
The “sham” union in question is the Professional Commuter Drivers’ Union. In the filings, Leon wrote that a Bauer’s road supervisor, Clarence Murdock, with support from Bauer’s owner Gary Bauer, “prevailed on employees to sign a blank piece of paper — not disclosing that their signatures would be used to furnish a veneer of legitimacy” to the commuter drivers’ union.
The San Francisco Examiner was unable to reach Bauer’s for comment.
In a filing to the NLRB, Bauer’s attorneys provided few details.
“Respondents deny each and every allegation contained therein,” Bauer’s wrote in the filings more than a dozen times, without specifics.
“It’s been one thing after another,” said Rome Aloise, principal officer of Teamsters Local 853, of organizing Bauer’s drivers. He alleged Bauer’s alternative union won’t protect workers.
With Bauer’s union, he said, “Let’s say you get fired or disciplined improperly, who makes the decision? Your employer, [who is also] the head of the phony union.”
Labor attorneys the Examiner spoke with described requests for injunctions from the NLRB as extremely rare, though that may be changing. According to its website, the NLRB issued less than 60 requests a year since 2012.
“I’ve been around for a long long long time, and I haven’t seen this happen very often,” Aloise said.
The U.S. District Court may consider the injunction in October, according to filings.