Union files unfair labor practice charge against All State Crane
by Cassandra Bondie
HOLLAND — Drivers along Eighth Street on Friday, April 5, may have noticed the demonstration outside All State Crane has disappeared.
But it isn’t gone for good. It’s just been moved for the afternoon.
“Today, we’re at a job site where All State Crane is working,” said Dan McKernan, communications director for Operating Engineers 324, a labor union based in Bloomfield that represents more than 14,000 operators across the state.
Throughout the week, the union has demonstrated outside All State Crane and Rigging — a company that rents, operates and hauls heavy equipment — at 500 E. Eighth St. to protest what they believe are substandard wages and benefits.
All State has not returned repeated requests for comment from The Sentinel.
Now, McKernan said, the union has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board because of All State’s ongoing interference.
“They cut a hole in one of our banners earlier in the week,” McKernan told The Sentinel on Wednesday, April 3. “They put out a crane and a banner of their own. They’ve sent people out on a regular basis to get in our faces with cameras, trying to get out guys to say the wrong thing. I’ve never seen a company act so aggressively.”
All State also created a barrier with trailers alongside the roadway.
“They blocked the right of way and our access to be there,” McKernan said. “If the board rules in our favor and supplies an injunction, they’ll have to stop interfering with us.”
It’s not clear how long that might take.
“It varies pretty wildly,” McKernan said. “It’s not an overnight thing. They’ll send an investigator out to look into the problem.”
According to McKernan, the demonstration began after All State refused to meet with the union to discuss the interest of one or more employees in joining.
McKernan was unable to specify whether Operating Engineers has remained in contact with the employee or employees that initially contacted the union.
“I might have been able to make a statement on that,” he said. “But when the owner of the company interviewed with the local radio station earlier this week, he made it very clear that All State is a nonunion company and unions aren’t welcome here.
“After hearing that, I went back to our shop and we agreed to do everything we can to keep employees from getting in trouble for talking to us. We always have that fear, so we go to great lengths to protect those employees.”
According to McKernan, the demonstrations will continue until something is done about wages or collective bargaining rights.
“We don’t want to force anyone to be in a union,” he said. “I can point to dozens of examples where we just want contractors to be fair to employees. So, if no one joined the union but the company raised wages and compensation to what’s standard for the area, it would be a different story.”
— Contact reporter Cassandra Bondie at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @BizHolland or @SentinelBondie.