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Amglo Kemllte Laboratories, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 17, 2016

Amglo Kemllte Laboratories, Inc., Petitioner/Cross-Respondent,
v.
National Labor Relations Board, Respondent/Cross-Petitioner.

          Argued February 11, 2016

         Petition for Review and Cross-Application for Enforcement of a Decision and Order of the National Labor Relations Board. No. 13-CA-065271

          Before Bauer and Williams, Circuit Judges, and Adelman, District Judge [*]

          Williams, Circuit Judge.

         Amglo Kemlite Laboratories makes specialty lights, such as those on airplane wings. Its employees in Illinois went on strike to protest low wages. The National Labor Relations Board found that Amglo unlawfully retaliated by transferring some work from Illinois to a separate Amglo facility in Mexico. The Board issued a remedial order. In this case, the Board asks us to enforce its order and Amglo asks us to set it aside. Because the order has a reasonable basis in law and is supported by substantial evidence, we enforce it.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Strike and Response

         On September 19, 2011, Amglo's President, Izabella Christian, visited Amglo's Illinois facility. Before her visit, several employees had complained to her-and to the Illinois plant manager, Anna Czajkowska-about low wages. During the visit, a supervisor reminded Christian about the employees' complaints, but she responded that Amglo would not raise wages.

         The next morning, nearly all of the plant's 94 employees went on strike. Christian and Czajkowska arrived shortly after the strike began, told employees that Amglo would not raise wages, and directed employees to return to work or go home. The employees asked to speak to Amglo's owner, Jim Hyland, but Christian responded that Hyland was not as "pro-Polish" as he used to be. (Nearly all of the employees were of Polish descent.) Czajkowska said: "I'll tell you what he's going to say. He will tell us to get rid of half of you. And you're not going to do anything. You're not going to scare him. You're not going to threaten him. You're going to lose." Czajkowska held resignation forms in her hand and told employees that if they did not like their wages, they could quit. Christian discussed globalization and explained that companies can move production to China and Mexico (two places where Amglo had plants). The employees made a written demand for guaranteed annual raises and for backpay since their last raise. They got no response.

         Employees arrived at the plant at 5:00 a.m. the next morning and continued striking. Two hours later, Christian and Czajkowska arrived and ordered employees to return to work or get off the company's property. Choosing the second option, employees reassembled on public property and continued their strike-but not for long. Over the next week, several employees returned to work, with no raise.

         On September 27, all of the employees who remained on strike-more than 50 people-signed an unconditional offer to return to work without a raise. Christian said that she could not give them a timeline for recalls, nor could she say how many of them would be recalled, because Amglo was transferring some work from Illinois to Mexico "because of the situation." By September 30, Amglo had recalled all but 22 employees. A month later, Amglo sent those 22 people a letter stating that, in part because of the transfer of work to Mexico, there were no jobs available. The letter informed the employees that, if a job opened up, they would be recalled before any new employee was hired. As of February 2012, none of the 22 had been recalled.

         B. Administrative Proceedings

         The National Labor Relations Board includes a General Counsel, who is responsible for investigating and prosecuting unfair labor practices. It also includes a "Board, " which is a quasi-judicial body that decides such cases. The General Counsel is independent of the Board. See generally https://www.nlrb.gov/who-we-are. Here, after an investigation, the General Counsel charged Amglo with unfair labor practices.

         An Administrative Law Judge held a hearing and issued findings and conclusions, which were appealed to the Board. The Board concluded that Amglo engaged in unfair labor practices by: (1) threatening to fire employees for striking, and (2) transferring work from Illinois to Mexico in retaliation for the strike. The Board ordered Amglo to avoid taking such actions in the future, to return the transferred work to Illinois, to offer full reinstatement to any employee who lost ...


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