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The New Look In Union Busting, And Tax-Free Too!

Frito-Lay, a major Northwest snack manufacturer of potato and corn chips had a large baking facility in Vancouver, Washington, that was unionized paying workers $16.96 an hour plus health, vacation and retirement benefits. Then suddenly in April 2008, the union jobs were suddenly terminated as jobs were then outsourced to a nonunion mystery source paying just $8 a hour with no benefits.depaul industries.jpg

Drivers for the the Teamsters Union found out that this mystery nonunion outsourcing operation turned out to be DePaul Industries in North Portland, Oregon , a claimed nonprofit labor outsourcing business that earns $20 million dollars a year tax free. DePaul Industries was founded by a grant from from the Catholic charity, the St. Vincent DePaul Society which closed thrift stores and other fund raising projects to help the poor, with the mission of DePaul Industries to supposedly give employment to persons with disabilities. Instead, this nontaxable business instead scavenges higher paying union jobs and hires workers at less than half the wages and without benefits.

And even worse for this business founded by Catholic charity funds, strong arm tactics including firing employees who simply signed union cards with the intention of wanting to become union members for better working condition or wages has been common place at DePaul Industries

In one case, an African American employee who attempted to unionize DePaul Industries was angrily fired by two managers, one shouting out racist statements. Hardly the sort of conduct one would expect from an organization founded with Catholic charity funds to supposedly help persons who are down and out due to disabilities.

The fact of the matter is that some big business lobby organizations such as the one run by the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce have spent millions of dollars to air ads and a misinformation campaign to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act which would have allowed exploited handicapped employees such as those at DePaul Industries to become union members simply by signing cards stating that they wish for a union to represent them. At DePaul Industries, a number of employees who simply signed these union intention cards have been fired by the company.

The racist abuse of the fired employee at DePaul Industries as well as the firings of other DePaul employees for merely signing union intention cards is typical of the abuses of employees who labor in the absence of job protections that the Employee Free Choice Act would offer.

Employees at DePaul Industries are supposed to be handicapped, yet have in the past become major sources of labor for potentially hazardous work duty such as some truck assembly for truck builder Freightliner or soldering work for electronics companies, which involves work around lead and lead fumes or machinery. Yet this claimed nonprofit organization can continue to pay no taxes, and uses outrageous firings of any who advocate for union representation and improvement of working conditions or wages.

DePaul Industries is a pretty good case example of why the Employee Free Choice Act needs to become law. Only if this current Congress finally passes this bill, would some of the worst of employee and manager abuses against workers who seek to improve their workplaces improve.

To say that handicapped workers are exploited at DePaul Industries, which also takes away good paying union jobs from other employers as they outsource to this enterprise is to say the very least here. High paying factory jobs disappear to a professional outsourcing company like DePaul Industries, ruining the American middle class which was created through high paying union jobs, and instead creating a lower class of underpaid workers living near the poverty level. That's hardly a godly mission for an organization supposedly founded by a church run charity to help the handicapped. That's mere labor exploitation.

Hey kids. If you want to make a lot of money in business, then start a $20 million dollar a year, nonunion, job outsourcing business that's tax-free. You can't lose. Even during this recession.

The fact of the matter was that DePaul Industries was named after the Catholic saint who helped the poor, and the St. Vincent DePaul Society was founded by a French college student who believed that the Catholic Church needed a greater mission towards the poor. However, I bet neither would recognize the works of DePaul Industries as anywhere near comparable to their own mission of charity and a helping hand towards the poor.


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Comments (6)

Eric:

Paul, there are a couple of errors in your article.

1)

At DePaul Industries, a number of employees who simply signed these union intention cards have been fired by the company.

It is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act to fire anyone for attempting to unionize, it's even against the NLRA for an employer to ask about whether an employee is unionizing. That said, the NLRB investigated those claims and the claims were dropped. The NLRB takes those claims very seriously, if the charges were dropped then they probably had no merit, so repeating them as factual is disingenuous.

"The unfair labor practice charges were dropped"

2)

Instead, this nontaxable business instead scavenges higher paying union jobs and hires workers at less than half the wages and without benefits.

No Benefits? This is from the Depaul Industries Website
Benefits Include:
Weekly Paychecks
Direct Deposit
Supplemental Medical & Dental Insurance
Personal Time Off (PTO)
Family Medical Leave, Military Leave, Bereavement Leave, & Leave Without Pay
Free Training Center Software Tutorials

Those look like benefits to me. So are you wrong or lying?

What would the union dues be for BCTGM-Local 364? What would the employees take home pay be after all of their union commitments vs. non-union take home pay with no such dues and commitments?

3)

...the Employee Free Choice Act which would have allowed exploited handicapped employees such as those at DePaul Industries to become union members simply by signing cards stating that they wish for a union to represent them.

Speaking of misinformation campaigns, would you care to fill me in as to the talking point du jour? It seems that one day its "EFCA will no way no how eliminate secret ballot elections" to "If the Employee Free Choice Act had been the law last year, the cards that DePaul workers signed would have been enough to get them their union, and management would have had to negotiate a decent first contract -- or have one imposed on them in binding arbitration."

Q: By the way, is DePaul Industries unionized?
A: No.

Q: Did the NLRB determine that DePaul Industries did anything illegal to prevent unionization?
A: No.

Q: Did the BCTGM Local 364 call for a secret ballot election to see if the employees wanted a union?
A: No.

Lee Ward:

"The NLRB takes those claims very seriously, if the charges were dropped then they probably had no merit, so repeating them as factual is disingenuous."

Not so. The NLRB may not have had the staffing or resources to investigate - or it may have been a situation where it was "he said-she said" and unprovable.

I have first-hand experience with the NLRB.

IN NO WAY WHATSOEVER does the fact that the charged were dropped prove that the claim was false.

Eric:
IN NO WAY WHATSOEVER does the fact that the charged were dropped prove that the claim was false.

It doesn't prove the charges true either. In the America where I grew up you were innocent until proven guilty. In this case, DePaul Industries was accused of violating FEDERAL LAW, it was investigated by the NLRB and the charges were dropped.

You are merely speculating as to why the charges were dropped. Why don't you try speculating that the charges were false? It is also an equally valid reason.

"he said-she said" and unprovable

As I said the NLRB takes those charges very seriously. You might even say that is their number 1 reason for existing. If an employee is unionizing and then fired with no other countervailing evidence as to why he was
fired, then the NLRB assumes he was fired because he was unionizing. It then launches a full fledged investigation with the weight of the federal judicial system.

If the charges are dropped it's because the company was able to demonstrate a valid reason to fire the guy or the charges were false.

Lee Ward:

We don't know why the charges were dropped, but we do know that your statement that the company was innocent "because" the charges were dropped is flat out false, as you now admit. You were only speculating as to the reason they were dropped - and we can speculate all day, and come up with reasons pro and con.

Eric:

And yet the charges were dropped and the union did not prevail. What part of the current labor law didn't allow the union to get into the company?

Rob:


Looks like this is all to push the Card Check non-secret ballot act across the line. Unions have destroyed the auto industry and have invested heavily in Obama. Now they are getting their payoff. Here and in other places like Detroit.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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