USW Promises to Continue Fight for Workers at Novelis

CONTACT: John Shinn (732) 287-4011

OSWEGO, N.Y. (March 15) – The United Steelworkers (USW) union will continue to fight for better treatment for workers at the Novelis aluminum facility in Oswego, despite a court ruling today from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that lifted a judge’s order that the company must bargain with the workers.

“The court upheld every unfair labor practice charge the workers made against this company,” said John Shinn, director of USW District 4, which includes New York as well as nine other states and Puerto Rico.

“Nobody should look at this decision as if it somehow vindicates Novelis,” Shinn said. “This court may have disagreed on the appropriate remedy, but this company is just as guilty of violating these workers’ rights today as it was yesterday.”

In January 2015, a federal administrative law judge upheld NLRB findings that Novelis interfered in a 2014 union election. The judge found that the company’s violations of the workers’ rights were severe enough to warrant a rare order for the company to bargain a contract with the union, despite the fact that the USW narrowly lost the election. In August 2016, a three-person NLRB panel unanimously upheld that ruling.

Novelis was guilty of numerous unfair labor practices, including demoting, threatening to fire, or cutting the wages of employees who supported the union, interrogating employees about union-related activities and prohibiting union messages from break areas and workers’ uniforms while allowing anti-union messages, among other violations.

“We do not for a minute wish to diminish the seriousness of the violations that the Board found and that we uphold,” today’s court decision said.

Should the workers decide to hold another election and Novelis continues to violate workers’ rights, the company could be held in contempt of court.

“We’re not going to walk away from these hard-working people, their families or this community,” Shinn said. “We are glad this long legal delay is over and now we can move forward. It will be up to the workers – as it must always be – to make the decision as to what their future holds.”

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