Chris Smith backs workers’ rights at Shred-it
Lawrenceville, N.J. – Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) joined workers yesterday as they kicked off an election to vote on forming a union at the Shred-It facility on Whitehead Road near the Lawrenceville-Hamilton border.
According to Smith, employees are seeking union representation “out of an abundance of concern for health and safety protocols as well as a desire for better wages, pensions and other benefits, that motived them to seek representation by Teamsters Local 469.”
Smith met with Shred-It workers—including one Hamilton man who was fired the day he and other workers gave notice to the management that they had filed for an election to form a union—as well with Teamsters Local 469 President Fred Potter and Business Agent Christina Montorio at his congressional office for several hours on March 13.
At the meeting, workers detailed what they felt was retaliation for their efforts to organize, and shared their fears regarding lax protocols and possible exposure to the coronavirus. Smith expressed his deep concern that Breaion Grissom of Hamilton appears to have suffered retaliation for his leadership in support of holding a union vote.
"The dirty tactics used by the company to deny us of our right to form a union is backfiring. The day we announced that we had filed for a union election, I was unjustly terminated. Management thought they could scare us, but it only made us stronger. We know better than to fall for their tricks, and we won’t stop until justice is won,” said Breaion Grissom, who was fired on Feb. 22 hours after a letter was submitted—bearing his name as a leader—to Shred-It management about their support for an election for a union.
Smith said, “the National Labor Relations Act forbids employers from interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of rights relating to organizing, forming, joining or assisting a labor organization for collective bargaining purposes. The law is clear,” Smith continued. “During the election, Shred-It must refrain from threatening job loss, layoffs, transfers, work reassignments or benefit reductions, and enable workers to exercise their Section 7 right to join a union free from intimidation and coercion,” he added.
PHOTO: Above, from the left, are Shred-It employee Willie Castor of Hamilton, Local 469 Business Agent Christina Montorio, Rep. Chris Smith, Local 469 President Fred Potter, and fired Shred-It employee Breaion Grissom. (March 24, 2021)
The voting began Wednesday through mail-in ballots and will last through April 14. Results will be tabulated and announced on or before April 28 by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Smith noted workers told him they received little support from management during the COVID epidemic and instead have needed to fight for proper personal protective equipment (PPE). “Some believe they caught COVID on the job and were stunned when they were requested and permitted to return to their jobs before their quarantine was completed,” Smith said. After the March 13 meeting with workers, Smith wrote letters to the NLRB, the Shred-It facility on-site manager, and the President and CEO of Shred-It’s parent company, Stericycle.
Yesterday, March 24, the NLRB sent a letter to Smith confirming that an investigation into the allegations against Shred-It was underway and being conducted by NLRB’s Newark Regional Office. In part, the letter stated, “When the Newark Regional Office concludes its investigation, it will advise the charging party, Teamsters Local 469, of the determination,” wrote Jeff Cruz, Director of the NLRB Office of Congressional and Public Affairs.
“The Teamsters are committed to fighting for these workers’ right to organize. We are calling on Shred-it to put an end to the intimidation and retaliation of workers exercising their legal right to form a union for a better future. It is shameful and unlawful, and we refuse to stand for it. We demand a fair union election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board,” said Fred Potter, President of Teamsters Local 469, who was with Smith, Grissom, and other workers and union leaders Wednesday.
PHOTO: Above, Rep. Smith with workers and union officials across the street from the Shred-It facility on Whitehead Road on March 24.