No Independence Day for Charlie Brown and Selland Auto Transport

Decert vote remains blocked as Selland continues to violate the law

June 30, 2017

As Independence Day rapidly approaches and Americans prepare to celebrate their freedom, employees at Selland Auto Transport remain locked in battle with an employer that acts like it is above the laws of this great nation. Even though freedom to assemble is protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, Selland Auto Transport and its President, Charlie Brown, seem to believe that their own personal beliefs and hatred of Unions trump what rights the Founding Fathers saw fit to give to all Americans.

After more than two years of negotiations – negotiations in which the Teamsters have proposed significant upgrades to wages, benefits and working conditions, while the Company has refused to bargain in good faith and has received numerous rulings against it from the National Labor Relations Board – Selland employees who voted in December of 2014 to join the Teamsters are still demanding a first contract.

The Company has dragged out the process of negotiating a contract for one simple reason: Charlie Brown and his crew hope to get rid of the Teamsters and thereby deny the drivers, owner-operators and mechanics working for Selland Auto Transport their rights under law to have their wages, benefits and working conditions guaranteed by an enforceable, written collective bargaining agreement.

In the high-dollar finished vehicle logistics industry, Selland workers are the key link between the vehicle manufacturers and the customers who purchase the vehicles and generate the revenue. The manufacturers have contracts – contracts with all the rail and port operators, with transporters like Selland, and with the car dealerships. The consumers purchasing vehicles from the dealerships have contracts too. The Teamsters’ goal is simply to bargain an enforceable contract that the Selland workers deserve.

However, Selland’s total inability and unwillingness to follow United States Labor Law is the problem that has prevented a contract from happening. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that Selland management directed many newly hired drivers to sign a decertification petition, filed in March of 2016, which the man filing the petition said came from just 39% of the employees. A 39% level of support is barely enough to trigger a possible decertification vote, and it not nearly enough to win one – especially when many of its signatures came under duress.

Given the unbelievable and illegal intervention by Selland in bullying its newest employees into signing the petition, the Teamsters took action to protect the rights of all Selland workers by filing several Unfair Labor Practice charges. The goal was to draw the NLRB’s attention to the incredible and blatant law-breaking that had been perpetrated by Selland management.

These meritorious charges filed with the NLRB were numerous and egregious, and were described in a three-page Government Notice sent to each Selland worker in April 2017 and posted at the terminals. The violations included: soliciting and coercing drivers to sign a petition seeking to decertify the Union as their collective-bargaining representative; threatening employees by informing them that they are disloyal because they support the Union and engage in Union activity; unilaterally changing terms and conditions of employment, without first giving the Union notice and an opportunity to bargain over those changes; and refusing to meet and discuss in good faith with the Union any proposed changes in wages, hours and working conditions before putting such changes into effect.

The NLRB investigated the charges and received testimony from several witnesses employed at Selland. They were convinced that the charges had merit, and so the NLRB blocked the decertification petition from going forward – as was their legal responsibility given Selland’s law-breaking behavior.

Since then, Selland’s law-breaking has only gotten worse. When Brown and his crew reached a settlement with the NLRB in April of 2017 resolving their prior violations of the law, they proceeded to ignore many of the provisions of the settlement and continued breaking Federal Labor Law.

“It is unbelievable how little respect this company has for the US Government and the rule of law that this country was founded on,” said Roy Gross, Assistant Director of the Teamsters Carhaul Division. “A government entity ordered them to do something and they blatantly disregarded it. If you or I did that, we’d be in jail.”

Since sending the company’s management to jail wasn’t an option, the Teamsters did what they could and filed even more Unfair Labor Practice charges against Selland. This time around, the list was similar to the first round: direct-dealing with bargaining unit members, failing to provide notice and bargaining over bargaining unit issues, and discriminating against Teamster supporters – all of which is clearly illegal under US Labor Law, and is well-documented by testimony from various witnesses.

The NLRB was once again convinced that rights of Selland workers have been violated because of Selland management’s actions, and so as of today, June 30, 2017, the decertification vote remains blocked. Given Selland’s awful record, it is doubtful that the old 39% petition filed eighteen months ago will even be allowed to proceed, and that is assuming that Brown and his crew can bring themselves to actually obey the law for a couple months.

A Selland Auto Transport truck loaded with vehicles

“Tough day for Charlie Brown and the rest of Selland’s management,” said Teamsters Local 174 Business Agent Carl Gasca, who has been involved in the fight with Selland from the very beginning. “They were hoping to celebrate Independence Day by getting rid of the Teamsters so they could smack their employees around without us there to stop them. Well, no such luck. We’re still here and we’re not going anywhere.”

Meanwhile, Selland has also been using some of its employees as puppets at the NLRB in an attempt to get rid of the Teamsters while making it seem like it was the employees’ own idea. One employee, Curt Rigney, has written several letters to the NLRB insisting that the decertification petition go forward in spite of the long list of Labor Board charges both settled and pending against Selland. Brown and his crew have made sure that these letters have been placed in employees’ mailboxes at the terminals.

The problem with these letters is that Rigney clearly received help from a lawyer in writing them – almost certainly a Selland Auto Transport lawyer. In a letter dated April 7, 2017 that seems to have actually been written by Rigney, there are numerous grammatical errors, and the word “proceed” is misspelled every time it appears. And yet, in another letter dated January 23, 2017, supposedly penned by Rigney, we see the opening line “this letter serves as a request for the above-captioned representation case to proceed to election, notwithstanding the ‘blocking charge’ filed on March 2, 2016.”

No offense to Mr. Rigney, but it seems highly unlikely that the letter was written by anyone other than a lawyer for Selland Auto Transport.

Selland has also been making use of employee Tommy Jackson, who has been sending out anti-Teamster literature to his fellow Selland employees. The evidence that Jackson has been receiving help from Selland is clear and irrefutable: when one employee moved to a new home, he informed Selland HR of his new address and then immediately received mail from Jackson at this new address. How did Jackson get the updated address information? The answer is clear: Selland provided it to him, in yet another violation of the law.

“It is so frustrating watching this Company break the law over and over and over again without a care in the world,” said Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “They’re the moral equivalent of a guy with 8 DUIs. At what point do you take away his keys? At what point do you send him to jail?”

“We’re not going to stop filing Unfair Labor Practice charges against them,” Hicks continued. “Not until they stop breaking the law!”

Meanwhile, Selland and its few, lonely supporters continue to lament the fact that their master plan to decertify the Teamsters Union has not yet borne fruit. Tommy Jackson sent out a letter in April proclaiming that the upcoming Independence Day would be celebrated with a decertification vote that would “free” Selland employees from the “tyranny” of the Teamsters.

Unfortunately for Jackson, his employer couldn’t stop breaking the law for long enough to let that happen. And so, instead of celebrating ‘freedom’ from the Teamsters this Independence Day, we hope that Selland employees celebrate the ideals upon which this country was founded: laws that apply equally to everyone, and consequences for breaking them.

“All we want is for Selland to follow the law,” said IBT Carhaul Director Kevin Moore. “Why can’t they do that? Do they think they’re so special that the United States Constitution has a special exception just for them?”

“Charlie – stop breaking the law,” he said.

Selland Auto Transport employee Tim Charles

As for Selland’s employees, they have little faith that the atmosphere at their workplace is going to change anytime soon. “Selland, stop breaking the law?” said longtime Selland employee Tim Charles.  “I won’t hold my breath.”

“Charlie and his crew want you to think this fight is over and the Teamsters lost. Well, we’re just getting warmed up,” Rick Hicks said. “Meanwhile, we hope that all our Brothers and Sisters have a great Independence Day. You all deserve it.”

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