NLRB POSTPONES COMPLAINT AGAINST GUESS
Byline: Kristi Ellis
LOS ANGELES — The National Labor Relations Board has delayed filing a formal unfair labor practices complaint against Guess Inc. that it had planned to file Friday, to give the company time to discuss a possible settlement.
In its complaint, the NLRB charges Guess executives illegally fired 18 employees who supported joining UNITE, the apparel and textile union, and threatened to close or move its factory out of the U.S. if workers continued to support the union.
“We have agreed to a brief time to try to settle the case,” said William Pate, the NLRB’s regional attorney.
Pate said the agency would file the complaint soon if a settlement were not reached. The NLRB could file the complaint and hand it over to an administrative law judge for action.
Glenn Weinman, general counsel for Guess, said the company denies all of the allegations, but could decide to settle the case, which might mean the workers would be reinstated.
Weinman said the 18 part-time employees who were terminated were not needed after Guess moved another 63 employees from part-time to full-time.
“The timing was bad on our part,” said Weinman, referring to the layoffs, which occurred at the time the union started its campaign last summer.
Weinman said Guess laid off the 18 employees because the company did not need them; the action was not a retaliation against the union.
UNITE filed four complaints against Guess with the NLRB in August, charging it with unfair labor practices. The union also alleges Guess interrogated workers who favored union representation and secretly investigated their activities.
“We believe that they should fix the unfair practices and reinstate the workers with back pay,” said Rebecca Kessinger, assistant director of UNITE’s organizing project in Los Angeles. “Since Paul Marciano, president of Guess, said he would close the company and move it, and blacklisted and fired employees, we also think that he should stand in front of his employees and tell them that they have the right to organize as part of the settlement.”
Guess has been the target of the union’s organizing campaign for several months. As part of the campaign, union organizers have filed a separate lawsuit alleging that Guess uses sweatshops and its contractors violate labor laws.