North Liberty utility allegedly violated federal labor law - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

North Liberty utility allegedly violated federal labor law

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South Slope Telecommunications Cooperative has been under fire for alleged violations of federal labor law.

The National Labor Relations Board says it found enough evidence during its investigation to prosecute the North Liberty utility.

In November 2013, the Communications Workers of America filed unfair labor practice charges against South Slope with the NLRB after management locked CWA employees out for a day, then allegedly imposed harsh new contract changes.

The NLRB found South Slope threatened CWA employees with benefits losses, unlawfully locked them out, and implemented a contract offer before negotiations broke down.

"We hope the NLRB's announcement serves as a wake-up call, and that South Slope management will take this opportunity to revoke their unlawfully imposed contract changes and return to the bargaining table with intent to bargain toward a fair contract," CWA staff representative Kay Pence wrote in a written statement.

The board will now try to negotiate a settlement with South Slope, giving management the chance to fix the violations and begin bargaining in good faith.

South Slope employee Matt Holub commented the decision brings relief, but he's not surprised.

"We sincerely hope the results of the Labor Board's investigation will encourage South Slope to work with us to move bargaining forward," said Holub in a written statement. "All of us are eager to reach a fair contract agreement and keep focusing on the quality customer service that makes South Slope successful."

South Slope CEO Justyn Miller says the claims have no bearing on current negotiations.

"Since November, the company has met three times with union representatives and a federal mediator," said Miller. "An additional meeting is scheduled for February 27. South Slope bargained in good faith at all times and with an open mind. We hope to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution that will keep the Cooperative competitive in the future."

Miller says the NLRB has not filed a formal complaint or conducted a full hearing.

If South Slope refuses to remedy and settle the charges, the NLRB will move forward with scheduling a hearing to prosecute South Slope with violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

Miller says once NLRB proceeds by filing a formal complaint, he looks forward to having a chance to have a full hearing on the allegations.

"We will continue to meet with union representatives at their convenience and work together to ensure the future viability of the Cooperative," said Miller.


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