The United Steelworkers of America has filed a charge against Kennecott Corp. saying the copper giant "has refused to bargain collectively" with 14 locals of seven international unions since April 26.
The charge was filed Friday with the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board in Denver.The charge says Kennecott "refused to provide relevant information the unions had requested by terminating the negotiations at 11:30 a.m. on June 30, 1993, when the agreements did not expire until midnight."
The charge says Kennecott officials refused to meet with union negotiators "other than for purposes of clarifying the company's final offer."
"The procedure takes time. There has to be an investigation. We have to prove our case but I think we have a very excellent case," said Bob Petris, chief negotiator for the Kennecott unions, in a telephone interview Friday.
Kennecott spokeswoman Alexis Fernandez said the company had not received official notice of the charge and therefore would not comment.
The unions have been working without a new contract since the old agreement expired at midnight Wednesday. Neither management nor union representatives expect communications between the parties to resume until after the Independence Day holiday.
Clint Elges, assistant to the regional director, said preliminary investigation of the unions' charge will take at least 30 days. The case will be assigned to an agent who will conduct an investigation by obtaining evidence from the unions. If the investigation indicates a violation occurred, the agent will request that the company provide an affidavit regarding the allegation and a statement of its position.
NLRB decisions ultimately could be appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court, though few are, Elges said.
On occasion, the charges are filed as a tactical maneuver in contract negotiations, Elges said.
"It's not that unusual, especially in big negotiations where the parties don't come together rather quickly, then the charges are frequently filed. Many times, and understand I'm not making a judgment in this case, they are just tactical charges to get the other side to do something they haven't done. Other times they're matters of substance and they drag on for a long time," Elges said.