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NLRB files a complaint against fireproofing firm

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A Draper commercial fireproofing company in April illegally fired workers who walked off the job, the National Labor Relations Board has alleged.

In a complaint and hearing notice filed Friday, the NLRB also alleged Utah Structural Coatings managers threatened to turn undocumented workers over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service if they did not go back to work.

About 60 workers at Utah Structural Coatings walked off the job April 20, contending the company failed to compensate them for overtime hours, deducted insurance premiums without paying benefits and forced them into unsafe working conditions.

Employees who did not return to work were replaced, an issue at the heart of the NLRB matter.

Company attorney B. Ray Zoll rejected the workers' assertions and the NLRB's complaint.

"Point by point, we've been able to disprove their allegations," Zoll said. "We're winning all the way along. We are in settlement negotiations with the NLRB, and we want to settle this. But we do not want to be held hostage."

Zoll said Utah Structural Coatings was justified in firing workers because it believed they sabotaged equipment.

But NLRB spokesman Wayne Benson said the agency found cause to further investigate.

"We have determined that there is a basis for further proceedings on the allegations set forth in the complaint," Benson said. "We have attempted unsuccessfully to settle those allegations. But it does not mean that the settlement will not eventually happen. We will continue to pursue a settlement."

The NLRB is an independent federal agency charged with administering the the law governing relations between unions and employers. If the NLRB regional director finds reasonable cause to believe the law has been violated, and settlement negotiations fail, a formal complaint is issued. The matter then goes before an NLRB administrative law judge for a hearing.

A hearing is set to be held in Salt Lake City, Benson said, though a date has yet to be scheduled.

Zoll said the company and NLRB haven't given up on a settlement, but that he is willing to fight.

"I'm not rolling over," Zoll said. "If we have to, we'll go all the way to the mat. Because a Utah employer doesn't have to be held hostage. We are not going to succumb to that kind of pressure. We're anxious, if we can't settle, to get to a hearing so the rest of the story can be told."

E-MAIL: jnii@desnews.com