Union DEMANDS Company Rehire Racist Employee
Despite pressure from the federal government to rehire a union protester caught shouting racial slurs, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company has decided to stand by its decision.
“We do not tolerate racist remarks made by employees,” a company spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Our policy was applied in January 2012, when Cooper discharged employee Anthony Runion for making racist statements, which were captured on videotape.”
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decided Friday to ignore the racist remarks in its determination the company was wrong to fire the racist employee, because at the time he was involved in a union protest. During the protest Runion allegedly shouted the slurs at the nonunion replacement workers, many of whom were black.
“Hey, did you bring enough KFC for everyone?” Runion, a United Steelworkers (USW) member, shouted to the nonunion workers. “Go back to Africa, you bunch of fucking losers.”
Though Runion admitted to the first comment, he denied telling them to go back home to Africa. After reviewing a tape of the incident, however, the NLRB agreed Runion was the most likely person to have made both comments. Despite this, and an early arbitration decision upholding the termination, the board ordered the company to rehire Runion.
“Cooper’s decision was upheld by an independent arbitrator,” the company spokeswoman noted. “Dissatisfied with this result, the USW pursued an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.”
“Late last week, an Administrative Law Judge with the NLRB sided with the union, ordering Cooper to reinstate Runion’s employment,” the spokeswoman concluded. “As a company that does not tolerate harassment and discrimination under any circumstances, Cooper strongly disagrees with this decision and will appeal it.”
Though companies are prohibited from firing workers for engaging in union activity, it is not at all uncommon for companies to discipline or even dismiss workers for engaging in racist or hostile activity. Though the NLRB found Runion made the racist comments, in its decision it notes he must be rehired for engaging in protected union activities.
“Make whole Anthony Runion for any loss of earnings and other benefits suffered as a result of the discrimination against him,” the decision ordered. “Compensate Anthony Runion for adverse tax consequences, if any, of receiving a lump-sum backpay award, and file a report with the Social Security Administration allocating the backpay award to the appropriate calendar quarters for said employee.”
The NLRB and the USW did not respond to a request for comment from TheDCNF.
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