March 10, 2018; Boston Globe
The National Labor Relations Board has issued a formal complaint against a nonprofit serving people with disabilities in the Boston area. Coleman Nee, the CEO of Triangle, Inc., is alleged to have threatened to fire employees organizing for a union in conjunction with SEIU Local 509. According to the NLRB, the organization’s administration followed the threats up with a campaign of harassment, surveillance, and coercion aimed at ending the union organizing amongst employees. Subsequently, four employees targeted as organizers were fired.
Amy Banelis was told her job had been eliminated. “When you have certain individuals fired for organizing, folks are going to be scared,” she said. “Triangle had sent a clear message by firing us that they essentially don’t want a union there.”
Readers may recall that the field of disabilities services is facing a serious workforce challenge: In direct service work, salaries are low and hours and benefits can be subpar. Boston, of course, has one of the nation’s highest cost-of-living rates.
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The NLRB’s complaint found that the administration spent five months “interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees,” including interrogating employees about the union activities of others and documenting any such involvement in performance reviews. According to the NLRB, the firings were meant to “discourage employees from engaging in these or other concerted activities.”
Now, the group has until Wednesday to file an answer to the complaint, and they will then have to answer the allegations in court.
The filing of the complaint is itself rare, in that only around 6.5 percent of the 20,000 cases brought to NLRB last year led to formal complaints.—Ruth McCambridge