Rotek in Aurora faces complaint from National Labor Relations Board

By Mike Lesko | Aurora advocate Published:

The National Labor Relations Board's Region 8 issued a complaint against Rotek Inc., alleging the Aurora company's unfair labor practices have caused a prolonged labor dispute with United Steelworkers Local 8565.

The complaint was filed Jan. 7 by NLRB Region 8 Director Frederick Calatrello.

The NLRB set a hearing on its complaint against Rotek for March 10 in a hearing room of the NLRB on East 9th Street in Cleveland before an NLRB administrative judge.

In the complaint, Calatrello alleges Rotek violated federal labor laws by failing to bargain in good faith.

Kellie Harris, director of media and communications for ThyssenKrupp of North America, the parent firm of Rotek, disputed the complaint.

"We are extremely disappointed and in complete disagreement with the complaint issued by the National Labor Relations Board. At every point in the negotiations, Rotek has bargained in good faith with USW Local 8565. We have asked for clarification from the NLRB regarding the reasoning behind this decision, since it runs contrary to previous rulings of this type."

The complaint alleges Rotek illegally engaged in surveillance of employees engaged in activity protected by federal labor law, and that Rotek allegedly illegally fired an employee for engaging in activity protected by federal labor law, doing so to discourage other employees from engaging in such activities.

"We feel we haven't been dealt with fairly," said Bill Hyslop, president of Local 8565. "They haven't given us the information to justify the type of cuts they're asking for. So this (complaint) affirms that what we say is going on is really going on.

"We believe there has been bad-faith bargaining on the part of Rotek," Hyslop said. "But we're still open to negotiate and trying to get a fair contract."

"We intend to answer the complaint and vigorously appeal it through the judicial process," Harris said.

On Saturday, union members will reach the one-year mark of picketing in front of Rotek on S.R. 43. The last bargaining session was Dec. 13.

Harris said in May the union rejected a settlement offer, and Rotek began the process of hiring replacement workers if Rotek employees on the picket line did not return to their jobs.

Hyslop said the steelworkers union has filed numerous complaints in the last year with the NLRB, a neutral party, against Rotek. "The fact that the NLRB filed complaints against Rotek means it feels there are serious breaches," Hyslop said.

Harris said Rotek has "a responsibility to protect the long-term viability of our business. We are trying to protect all of our employees and move forward.

"We hope the union will end its year-long economic strike of our facility. We urge them to come back to the (bargaining) table, ready to help us finally resolve this issue."

Contact this reporter at 330-541-9400 ext. 4187 or mlesko@recordpub.com

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