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Garcia v. Sacramento Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

August 20, 2010

OLIVIA GARCIA, ACTING REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF REGION 20 OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, PETITIONER,
v.
SACRAMENTO COCA-COLA BOTTLING CO., INC., RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Frank C. Damrell, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the court on petitioner Olivia Garcia's ("petitioner"), Regional Director of Region 20 of the National Labor Relations Board, for and on behalf of the National Labor Relations Board (the "Board"), petition for an injunction under § 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act. Petitioner seeks an interim order required respondent to recognize and bargain with Teamsters Local 150 (the "Union" or the "affiliated Union") pending the Board's final disposition in this case. Respondent Sacramento Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Inc. ("respondent" or the "Employer") opposes the petition. The court heard oral argument on August 20, 2010. For the reasons set forth below, the Board's petition for a § 10(j) injunction is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND*fn1

Respondent is a California corporation that owns franchise agreements with Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Inc., under which it is authorized to manufacture, distribute, and sell Coca Cola products in the Sacramento and Modesto geographical areas. (Decl. of Rob Siebers in Supp. of Opp'n to Inj. ("Siebers Decl."), filed Aug. 18, 2010, ¶ 2.) Sacramento Coca-Cola Bottlers Employees Union ("SCCBE") was an in-house union, formed by the employees of respondent in 1966. (Affs. In Support of Pet. for Inj. ("App,"), filed Aug. 13, 2010, at 13.) The unit is comprised of all regular employees engaged in production, distribution and maintenance. (App. at 48.) The unit is currently comprised of approximately 310-320 of respondent's employees. (App. at 31; Siebers Decl. ¶ 6.) The collective bargaining agreement between respondent and the unit extends from November 1, 2009 through October 31, 2013. (Id. at 47; Siebers Decl. ¶ 36; Ex. O to Siebers Decl.)

On March 21, 2010 a vote was held to elect ten new Board of Governors for SCCBE (the "SCCBE Board"). New SCCBE Board members included Jerry Rezendes ("Rezendes") and Dennis Young ("Young") as Chairman and President of the SCCBE Board, respectively. (App. at 1, 13, 25.) During the three years prior to taking office, Rezendes and Young had been in contact with Rocky Thomas ("Thomas"), an organizer/business representative of Teamsters Local 150, to discuss the possibility of merging SCCBE with Teamsters Local 150. (Id. at 29.) After the March 21 election, these discussions took on a more serious nature. (Id. at 30.)

A few weeks later, a SCCBE meeting was scheduled for April 25, 2010 as "a general meeting to introduce the newly elected members of the board," discuss finances, and exchange contact information. (Decl. of Robert Giron in Supp. of Opp'n to Inj. ("Giron Decl."), filed Aug. 18, 2010, ¶ 2; Ex. A to Giron Decl.) Prior to the meeting, approximately four SCCBE Board members were aware of the merger discussions. (Id. at 2, 6, 7, 29.) Immediately before the meeting, several more were made a aware that there were on-going merger discussions that were kept secret because Rezendes was afraid of retaliation by respondent for suggesting the merger. (Id. at 2, 6, 18.)

Fifty to sixty members attended the April 25 meeting. (Id. at 7.) Thomas and Teamsters 150 attorney, David Rosenfeld ("Rosenfeld"), were invited to the meeting by Rezendes and were also in attendance. (Id. at 26.) After the SCCBE Board members were introduced, a member brought up the possibility of merging with Teamsters 150. (Id. at 21.) A motion on the issue was made and seconded.*fn2 (Id.) A heated discussion ensued, during which respondent asserts that Young told the audience that if the vote to merge was not taken straight away, respondent would make the members jobs very hard on them, harass them and/or fire them. (Id. at 44, 11; Siebers Decl. ¶ 17; Ex. D to Siebers Decl.) Eventually, Thomas took the floor and read the proposed merger agreement ("Agreement")and answered questions about the potential merger. (App. at 30.)

Members were asked to stand on opposites sides of the room to show their support or opposition to the merger. (App. at 12, 23, 30.) Around 50 members supported the merger; approximately 5 members opposed the merger. (Id. at 8, 14, 27, 30.) However, in light of the discussions and the fact that most members were not aware of the merger idea, the SCCBE Vice President suggested that any merger vote should be held at a later time so all members could be consulted. (Id. at 44.) Young did not agree. He stated that everyone had notice and was invited to come and that the meeting was one of the largest turnouts they had ever had. (Id. at 18.)

A hand vote of the SCCBE Board was taken and the merger with Teamsters 150 was agreed upon by a majority of the Board of Governers. (Id. at 14.)

Following the vote by the SCBBE Board, SCCBE's president executed the Agreement with Teamsters 150. (Id. 34.) The Agreement called for retaining the current collective bargaining agreement between SCCBE and respondent in full force and effect, with no changes in terms or conditions. (Id.) The collective bargaining agreement is set to expire in October 2013 and at the time the Union will bargain a new contract. (Id. at 47.)

Under the current Agreement employees can become members of the Union without paying an initiation fee and dues will remain for the same for another 18 to 36 months. (Id. at 34.) Any later increase in dues must be approved by the Union members employed at Sacramento Coca-Cola Bottling Co. following the April 25 membership meeting. (Id. at 40.)

All Board members were asked and agreed to serve as shop stewards for the Union. (Id. at 3, 9, 28, 38.) Once they receive the requisite training, shop stewards will be able to settle grievances at the first or second step of the grievance procedure without assistance from a Union representative; six shop stewards who are former Board of Governors members attended the shop steward training on June 19. (Id. at 39.)

All assets and liabilities of SCCBE were transferred to the Union, including the sole assets of approximately $87,000. (Siebers Decl. ¶ 6.) These funds were deposited in a separate checking account controlled by the Union to be used only for representation expenses related to the Sacramento Coca-Cola Bottling Co. unit employees. (App. at 34.)

On April 27, 2010, the affiliated Union sent a letter to respondent, advising it that SCCBE had merged with Teamsters Local 150 and designating Thomas as the Union representative. (Siebers Decl. ¶ 14; Exhibit B to Siebers Decl.) In response, on April 28, respondent posted a letter at the worksite, questioning the validity of the merger. (App. at 37.; Siebers Decl. ¶ 15; Ex. C to Siebers Decl.) On April 29, ten employees posted a letter protesting the merger, stating that members would be asked to sign a petition to dissolve any relationship with Teamsters Local 150. (Siebers Decl. ¶ 19.) On May 3, 2010, a petition stating "I DO NOT WANT TO BE AFFILIATED WITH TEAMSTERS LOCAL 150" began circulating among the employees. (App. at 103-119; Siebers Decl. ¶ 7; Ex. K to Siebers Decl.) Fifty-five signatures were obtained on the first day of the petition. (Siebers Decl. ¶ 21.)

Three days later, on May 6, 2010, the Union conducted a noticed meeting for respondent's employees. Only 10 of the 308 bargaining unit employees attended. (Siebers Decl. ¶ 31; Ex. L to Siebers Decl.)

On May 20, 2010, respondent's counsel sent a letter to the Union's counsel, expressly providing that it did not recognize the affiliated Union. (App. at 125.)

During the summer of 2010, several grievances were filed by the Union on behalf of employees. (App. at 32, 33, 39.) Petitioner asserts that all 16 of these grievances were ignored and remain unresolved. (Decl. Vigent ¶ 9.) Respondent asserts that it has attempted to resolve all grievances filed since April 25, 2010 only with representatives of "SCCBE," not the Union. (Id.)

1. Respondent's and Employee Filings with the Region

On May 13, 2010, respondent filed a charge with Region 20 (the "Region"), claiming the Union violated Section 8(b)(1)(A) of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") by restraining, coercing, and threatening employees in order to gain support for the merger. (Decl. Acting Regional Director in Supp. of Pet. for Inj. ("Garcia Decl."), filed Aug. 13, 2010, ¶ 6.) The charge was investigated, and on June 30, 2010 the Region dismissed it after determining it was without merit. (Decl. of Dennis S. Murphy in Supp. of Opp'n to Inj. ("Murphy Decl."), filed Aug. 18, 2010, ¶ 5; Garcia Decl. ¶ 6.) On July 12, 2010, respondent appealed the decision. (Garcia Decl. ¶ 6; Siebers Decl. ¶ 34.) A month later, on August 12, 2010, respondent's appeal was denied by NLRB Office of Appeals. (Murphy Decl. ¶ 4-5; Ex. C to Murphy Decl.)

On May 25, 2010, an employee submitted a petition to the Board, seeking to recall the current Union officials. (Decl. of Robert Giron in Supp. of Opp'n to Inj. ("Giron Decl."), filed Aug. 18, 2010, ¶ 4.) The Board would not accept the petition. (Id.)

On June 28, 2010, respondent filed petitions for a representative (RM) election with the Region. (Murphy Decl. ¶ 6.) Attached to the petitions, respondent submitted a supplemental petition, stating that the signatories did not want to be affiliated with Teamsters Local 150, signed by 56% of the bargaining unit employees. (Id.; Siebers Decl. ¶ 7.) The employees continued to gather signatures and, as of the date of the hearing, the employee petition has been signed by 173 bargaining unit employees. (Giron Decl. ¶5.) On July 7, 2010, the Region dismissed the employer's petitions for an election, citing both the contract bar rule and a charge filed by the Union. (Ex. to Pet'r's Reply Brief, filed Aug. 19, 2010.)

2. The Current Litigation

On May 3, 2010, the Union filed an unfair labor practice charge against respondent alleging violation of Section 8(a)(1)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") for refusing to bargain in good faith. (Decl. Acting Regional Director in Supp. of Pet. for Inj. ("Garcia Decl."), filed Aug. 13, 2010, ΒΆ 3.) On June 2, 2010, respondent submitted a response to Teamsters 150's charge with a petition attached, signed by approximately 130 ...


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