A small Elko contractor targeted by a Union will be slugging it out with the Union in court. A judge in Reno has set a December 6 court date for Mach 4 Construction to have its case heard against Operating Engineers Local 3.
The company was unable to come to a settlement agreement with the Union and its Trust Funds earlier this week. The Union once again was unwilling to agree to accept amounts that would allow Mach 4 to stay in business. Judge David Hicks also dismissed the Union’s motion for summary judgment and set the date to hear the case at trial.
Mach 4 will be claiming “unclean hands” on the part of the Union in the dispute. This defense alleges the Union and its Trust Funds have acted unethically or in bad faith.
The company signed what it believed to be a one-year contract with the Union in 2007. While the Union assured the Millers they would be thrilled with the deal and want to extend it, they were anything but. Duncan Miller complained of being sent unqualified workers from the union hall and having to waste time with remedial training of supposedly highly-trained operators.
When the company attempted to terminate the agreement at the end of that year, the Union rejected the termination and today claims Mach 4 has been subject to the terms of the agreement ever since. Because of this the Union and its benefit Trust Funds assert the company owes them in excess of a million dollars in back pay and benefits for union members, even though the company has not used union labor since it attempted to end the deal and its 36 current employees do not want the Union.
Angela Miller, one of the principals of Mach 4, along with her husband Duncan, indicated that the ongoing litigation has hurt the company. Not only is it costly but some potential customers are hesitant to hire Mach 4 because of the possibility the Union could succeed in driving it out of business.
According to Nevada law, were the company to be forced to close its doors the Union could go after its customers for the money it claims it and the Trust Funds are owed by Mach 4. Rather than knuckle under and give up, Mach 4 has chosen to fight.