Workers at Anchor Brewing Co. in San Francisco have filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company for allegedly ordering employees to stop wearing pro-union pins at work.
The directive “looked like targeted discrimination against union activity, particularly because workers have been allowed to use other insignia,” Nicole Teixeira, an attorney at Leonard Carder LLP who represents the organizing workers, told Bloomberg Law March 8. That type of order from management is a potential violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
Meanwhile, the group will have to wait another week to vote on whether to unionize due to an electrical fire at the San Francisco brewery last week. The National Labor Relations Board postponed the elections until March 13 at the company’s request after the fire.
“We are very fortunate that nobody was hurt as a result of the fire, which resulted in a historic stoppage of production for over five days while we assessed the damage to our facility,” a spokesperson for the company told Bloomberg Law in a March 8 e-mail. “Because our employees had their shift-time reduced or canceled as a result of this fire, we decided to pay them for the hours they were scheduled to work.”
Teixeira noted that the organizing committee “made a request for backpay first, and Anchor granted it.”
Teixera questioned whether the company was also motivated to ask for an extension in order to have more time to advocate against unionization. The organizing group said on Twitter March 8 that management has been holding “intimidating 2-on-1 meetings” with workers saying they’ll “face a years-long wage freeze after the election.”
The charge against the company was filed on behalf of the workers—including a group that works at a company-owned bar across the street—by Local 6 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
The NLRB will investigate a charge and issue a complaint if it finds some evidence of a violation. Labor law remedies for directives like the one the union challenged typically involve posting a public notice at the workplace informing workers about the NLRB’s conclusions and stating that management won’t repeat the unfair labor practice.
Ramirez and Teixera told Bloomberg Law that employees of the electrical company hired to repair the damage happened to be members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Some of the electricians had joined the Anchor Union group at an earlier organizing action in support of their their efforts, they said.
Anchor Brewing maintains that it will respect the results of the elections and collaborate with the union if the workers vote to form one.
“The Union, NLRB, and Anchor have agreed to hold the election next Wednesday, March 13,” the company spokesperson said. A separate election for workers at the Anchor Public Taps bar remains scheduled for March 15.