Job-Saving Wins Set Stage for Upcoming Contract Talks
Four Local 132 members’ jobs were recently saved, thanks to successive arbitration victories won by the local’s leadership. An arbitrator found Edwin Riley, Frank Zavala, Simon Mendoza, and Juan Torres were wrongfully terminated and they have either returned to work or are in the process of doing so.
“At a time when the company is struggling to keep up with state and California Public Utility Commission requirements, it makes no sense for them to engage in counterproductive action,” says Local 132 President Javier A. Salas. “Their gross misconduct resulted from not applying fair and equitable treatment of employees based on our contract, labor laws, and regulations set forth by the National Labor Relations Act.”
Riley was wrongfully discharged for using a mechanical coupler to shut off gas in an emergency. Although the company stopped using the component, thousands were still in use in the field. What should have been a case of failure to follow policy, a minor offense, lead to Riley’s discharge.
Frank Zavala, Riley’s shop steward, was targeted by the company for defending his co-worker during his discharge case. A minor infraction (failure to follow policy) led to Zavala’s discharge. The union saw this as a clear attack on a shop steward and successfully took his case to the NLRB and arbitration. As a true shop steward, although discharged, Zavala was present and supported Riley during his arbitration.
In another case, the company unjustly discharged Simon Mendoza after he was involved in a motor vehicle accident. The union challenged this and won.
Lastly, Juan Torres had a special agreement with the company that set forth a list of requirements that the company failed to meet. After his discharge, the arbitrator ordered the company to put Torres back to work.
With contract negotiations coming up, these four victories could not have come at a better time!