(Michael Chamberlain/Nevada Business Coalition) – “Just leave us alone.” That’s the request from a small Nevada contractor to the union that has hounded it for more than 3 years.
Since the Operating Engineers Local 3 will not leave MACH 4 Construction alone the company has decided to fight back.
MACH 4 is the general contractor that had signed an agreement with the Operating Engineers in 2007 with the assurance that if it wasn’t satisfied with the union in the first year it could end the relationship. But when MACH 4 attempted to do so a year later the union refused to recognize the withdrawal and now claims the company owes it more than a million dollars.
But MACH 4 has decided it is going to fight back. It has filed a lawsuit against the union claiming representatives of the union made derogatory statements to MACH 4’s customers and employees. According to MACH 4’s complaint, these statements caused the company to lose business and hurt its ability to attract and retain employees.
Angela Miller, co-owner of MACH 4, said, “We are in the fight of our life. We have 36 employees and their families that are counting on us and we will continue to fight, our business is not a place it is people! These actions by the Union reps have got to stop.”
The Elko County Economic Development Authority has expressed its support for MACH 4. Executive Director Pam Borda stated, “[W]e will stand behind MACH 4 and provide our full support to solve this issue. We will also encourage the rest of the community to rally behind MACH 4. It is very disturbing to see any union or business use these tactics to force an outcome.”
MACH 4 co-owner Angela Miller recently appeared on Sam Shad’s Nevada Newsmakers. It was during this appearance that she implored the union, “Just leave us alone.” In addition, she reiterated the complaints the company had with unskilled union workers and the union’s refusal to recognize MACH 4’s attempts to free itself from the union.
Miller’s attorney, Julie Cavanaugh-Bill, appeared with Miller and said, “The union was coming in like this 10,000-lb. gorilla. And I was thinking what happened about workers’ rights and labor law. This was supposed to be about protecting workers and we have a situation here where we have 38 families being threatened to be booted out.”
During this appearance, Miller also revealed, “For the first 6 months of our contract we could bring in whoever we wanted. However, they had to sign union. They had to pay the union dues and sign up and have their account set up to have their benefits deposited into [the union trust fund]. They couldn’t just work for us without being union.”
This would be a violation of the state’s right-to-work law. It is illegal to force anyone to join a union as a condition of employment. Even a company that has signed a union deal cannot force its employees to join that union. When the company is allowed to hire anyone instead of being forced to hire from the union hall, the onus is on the union to convince each of the company’s workers to sign up with the union.
MACH 4 Construction is worth more to the union dead than alive. The company is in a battle for its very survival and it has chosen to fight back against the bullying of Big Labor.
(Michael Chamberlain is Executive Director of Nevada Business Coalition.)