Workers at the Silicon Valley recycling plant that was central to a recent landmark National Labor Relations Board ruling have voted in support of being represented by the Teamsters union.
The vote involved Browning-Ferris Industries, a Houston waste management company that used a subcontractor, Leadpoint Business Services, to staff its recycling center in Milpitas, Calif.
Teamsters Local 350 tried to organize the recycler’s workers but wanted to bring Browning-Ferris to the table too. The case was appealed to the NLRB, which decided last week that Browning-Ferris, which is part of Republic Services Inc., was a “joint employer” even though it didn’t directly hire or have immediate control over people hired by Leadpoint.
Experts say the decision could redefine the relationship between employees and employers, with potentially far-reaching effects, especially at a time when many businesses are turning to temporary workers instead of hiring full-time employees.
Ron Herrera, director of the Teamsters’ solid waste and recycling division, said the 73-17 victory was huge for the waste industry, where temporary and direct employees often work side by side. “We’re elated because we can bargain for all workers,” he said.
The recycling facility’s workers originally cast their ballots in 2013. But until Friday, the votes remained uncounted as both sides battled it out.
Representatives for Republic Services couldn’t be reached for comment.
The losing side often files objections, said Teague Paterson, a lawyer representing the Teamsters. If those objections do not stand, then the NLRB will certify the Teamsters local as the collective bargaining representative for the recycling center’s workers. Then negotiations can begin for future contracts.
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