Government Orders Queens Sanitation Company to Bargain with Teamsters
Planet Waste Unlawfully Threatened and Spied-On Workers who Testified to Government Investigators about Abuses
The National Labor Relations Board this week ordered a Queens sanitation company, Planet Waste, to end its efforts to remove Teamsters Local 813 as the union representing its employees, through a settlement of outstanding charges before the board. If the company had not settled the case, agreeing to correct the activities that led to unfair labor practices charges, the NLRB would have proceeded through the enforcement process. If Planet Waste violates any conditions of the agreement, it gives up its right to contest the underlying allegations and the NLRB can order immediate relief to protect workers.
Under the agreement, Planet Waste, of Maspeth, NY is required to bargain with Local 813, which it has previously refused to do to, and discontinue the unlawful actions that led to unfair labor practice charges. Those charges asserted that Planet Waste:
- Retaliated against workers for supporting Local 813
- Retaliated against workers who cooperated with NLRB investigators
- Threatened to fire workers for supporting the union
- Installed cameras in trucks to surveil union supporters
- Called police to remove Local 813 representatives from the facility
- Threatened to make work more difficult for union supporters and workers cooperating with NLRB investigators
- Interrogated workers about their support for the union
- Interrogated workers about their testimony to the NLRB
- Provided unlawful assistance to a notorious, company-friendly union, called LIFE 890
The company also agreed to return one employee to his past terms of employment, after he had been punished for supporting Local 813.
“This is the federal government saying no to union busting and no to threatening workers who stand up for themselves,” said Sean Campbell, President of Teamsters Local 813. “These abuses are not unique to Planet Waste, they happen every day at private sanitation companies across the city. Local 813 is pushing back and we are winning.”
“Planet Waste wanted to get rid of the Teamsters so it could take advantage of our members. The company lost,” Campbell added.
Planet Waste had partnered with a notorious union called LIFE 890 in its attempt to remove the Teamsters and replace the real union with LIFE 890. Earlier this year, Planet Waste and LIFE 890 claimed that workers wanted to change unions, and called for an election, amidst a flurry of unfair labor practice charges against Planet Waste. It is illegal for a company to initiate a union decertification. In April, the NLRB blocked the election while it investigated the charges, and today’s agreement stops the union busting campaign for good.
“Planet Waste used the same union-busting playbook as many other private sanitation companies in New York City. I’m glad the National Labor Relations Board is finally putting a stop to it,” said Campbell. “Sanitation is one the most dangerous jobs and employers often hire workers that can be easily exploited, like immigrant and formerly incarcerated New Yorkers. These workers need a strong union like the Teamsters to stand up for their rights and give them a voice at work.”
LIFE 890, headed by John Mongello, Jr., operates out of a Bay Ridge townhouse owned by Mongello. The small union and its benefit fund pay Mongello nearly $300,000 a year in salary and rent, in addition to employing his wife and daughter. According to the Daily News, Mongello is the former leader of LIUNA Local 445 and created LIFE 890 through “a scheme to break away from LIUNA and steal its contracts.”
The NLRB decision is the latest win for the Teamsters union, which has been campaigning for better wages and working conditions in New York’s private sanitation industry. Earlier this year, workers at the city’s largest recycling plant joined the Teamsters. The union has also worked with environmental allies to improve New York City oversight of the private sanitation industry, through the City’s announced Commercial Waste Zone policy.