From: Barbano@frontpage.reno.nv.us (Andrew Barbano) Subject: UPS & fired Bently workers
[Las Vegas Review-Journal][Donrey Newspapers] [Review-Journal Online] Monday, August 25, 1997
Feds probe firings related to UPS strike
[Site Map] [Image] Associated Press MINDEN -- A federal labor board has launched an investigation into the firing of two Bently Nevada Corp. workers who [Image] refused to sign for United Parcel Service packages during the Teamsters strike to show their support for striking workers. A National Labor Relations Board investigator took sworn statements last week from Jessica Gomes, 40, and Carlene O'Neil, 56, who filed unfair labor practices complaints after they were fired from their senior store clerk jobs Aug. 8.
Don Rhoads, a supervisory attorney at the NLRB office in Oakland, Calif., said investigators would talk with Bently Nevada officials within the next couple of weeks before the board issues a ruling. At issue is whether the workers' actions were protected under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, Rhoads said. "The act says employees who act concertedly with regard to an issue dealing with wages, hours and working conditions cannot be retaliated against by the employers," he said. "If there was (a violation), there would be a settlement of the case involving reinstatement and back payment."
Nevada union officials have rallied around the women and set up a relief fund for them. "To the best of my knowledge, I know of nobody who got fired that had nothing to gain (from the Teamsters strike) but to stand up for a principle," said union spokesman Andrew Barbano of Reno. "These women are unique in the country. The UPS workers are going back to work. They are not." Bently officials have declined comment on the case. The Minden-based company manufactures high-tech protection devices for rotating machinery ranging from turbines to drilling rigs. "It is inappropriate for us to have discourse on this issue in the public press," said Jim Schmid, Bently Nevada's vice president of human resources. Gomes and O'Neil refused to sign for a UPS package when it was delivered to their office on Aug. 6, three days into the UPS strike. But they stressed they arranged for another employee to sign for it. Two days later, supervisor Gene Sorem fired them because of their personal beliefs, they said. "Bently is not union and is very anti-union," Gomes said. "But we were raised you just don't cross picket lines, and signing for a package would have been like doing that. You're taking bread and butter out of people's mouths if you do it." Gomes, a union shop steward at a previous job, and O'Neil, the daughter of a longshoreman, are optimistic the NLRB will rule in their favor. "I really think justice will prevail," Gomes said. "We really think they broke the law. We feel we never impeded the company. We made sure that someone signed for the package." Gomes, the sole support for her disabled husband and 9-year-old twins, also has held down a part-time job as a casino keno runner. O'Neil, who's single, still is unemployed. Both had worked at Bently at least five years. ------------------------------------------- Give us your FEEDBACK on this or any story. ------------------------------------------- Fill out our Online Readers' Poll [Image]
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