Tuesday, April 13, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 6

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on April 6th, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 22, Issue 6 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 22, Issue 6

Santa Maria delivery drivers successfully vote out union, but union officials say members were swayed

By Malea Martin

Workers at a Santa Maria delivery driving company recently voted to remove their union from representing them. While the workers’ legal representatives called it a case of “unwanted monopoly ‘representation,’” union officials say the vote is the result of a “massive anti-union campaign” by one of the largest private companies in the United States.

The process started when Allied Central Coast Distributing delivery driver Julian Marroquin submitted a decertification petition to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in December 2020, according to Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. The foundation provides free legal aid to workers pursuing union decertification. 

Petitioners must gather at least 30 percent of their co-workers’ signatures for the NLRB to hold an election, according to the board’s website. On March 23, 2021, the board reported that the workers voted in favor of removing the union, Teamsters Local 986, as their bargaining representative. The results were certified on March 31, and Semmens said the vote was split 10-7.

“A state like California doesn’t have a right-to-work law, so that means that workers can be required to pay some union fees, even if they’re not members,” Semmens said. “That’s why you then run into situations where workers say, ‘Look, we don’t want this union here,’ and the mechanism for removing it under federal law is a decertification.”

But union officials allege that their members were swayed and intimidated into voting against the union.

“Allied Central Coast Distributing is backed by a billion-dollar company, the Reyes [Holdings] corporation, so they launched a very massive anti-union campaign against us to try and get our group to decertify, and they were successful in it,” Jeff Lee, business agent for Teamsters Local 986, told the Sun.

According to Forbes, Reyes Holdings is the eighth largest private company in America.

Lee alleges that Reyes brought in non-union drivers from other facilities to ride along with Allied drivers and spread what he called “anti-union propaganda.” 

“We actually filed a CalOSHA [California Division of Occupational Safety and Health] complaint against them for bringing drivers in from the outside during a global pandemic … and forced the employees to ride together in their trucks all day with these, we call them union busters,” Lee said. 

Semmens said he wasn’t aware of the specific issues that his clients had with the union.

“We kind of take the point of view that it’s their right to hold a vote, and whatever the reason why people want to get rid of the union, that’s up to them,” he said. “In this case, I’m not aware of what specific motivations there were, except obviously they felt they’d be better off without the Teamsters there.”

He added later in an email statement, “The union could have challenged the election outcome if they believed the company broke the law, but obviously did not do so.”

The National Labor Relations Board certified the results on March 31 after no union challenges were brought up against the vote. Lee said the CalOSHA investigation based on the union-filed complaint is still ongoing.

“Of course the vote has already gone through, so we really have no stake in it other than being the plaintiff,” Lee said. “But CalOSHA is investigating what they did during the pandemic.”

Allied Central Coast Distributing couldn’t be reached for comment. 

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