Trentonian article on Smith support of workers'Shred-it faces unfair labor charge, workers hold union vote'
By Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman -
Alabama warehouse employees for Amazon. com Inc. aren’t the only workers across America holding elections to potentially form a union.
Breaion Grissom, a Hamilton Township resident, said the Lawrence-based Shred-it facility off Whitehead Road has illegally terminated his employment for attempting to organize such an election here.
“The day we announced that we had filed for a union election, I was unjustly terminated,” Grissom said last week in a press statement. “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.”
Teamsters Local 469 filed an unfair labor practice charge with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board on Feb. 22 alleging Shred-it discharged former employee Grissom “because of his membership and activities on behalf of Teamsters Local 469.”
The NLRB’s Newark Regional Office is investigating the allegations, The Trentonian has learned.
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from Hamilton Township, is supporting his constituent Grissom in this labor dispute.
The congressman called upon the NLRB to conduct a “fair, comprehensive and timely investigation into the charges of union-busting brought by Teamsters Local 469.”
“Mr. Grissom’s termination appears to be an act of retaliation for his leadership and advocacy in the organizing drive,” Smith said in a letter to the NLRB chair Lauren McFerran dated March 22, “and an effort to intimidate and create fear among fellow workers.”
Smith met with Shredit employees at his office on March 13, he said, adding the workers complained of receiving “little support from management” in the fight against COVID-19.
“Several workers believe they caught COVID on the job,” Smith said in his letter to McFerran, “and were stunned when they were requested — and permitted — to return to their jobs before their quarantine was completed.”
Shred-it employees will decide democratically whether they shall form a labor union. Their voting began March 24 through mail-in ballots and will last through April 14, according to Smith’s office. The results will be tabulated and announced on or before April 28 by the National Labor Relations Board.
“The Teamsters are committed to fighting for these workers’ right to organize,” Fred Potter, president of Teamsters Local 469, said in a press statement. “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.”
PHOTO: Congressman Chris Smith (center) stands with workers and union officials across the street from the Shred-it facility on Whitehead Road in Lawrence Township on March 24, 2021, after Teamsters Local 469 filed an unfair labor practice charge against Shred-it. (From left) Shred-it employee Willie Castor of Hamilton, Teamsters Local 469 Business Agent Christina Montorio, Rep. Smith, Teamsters Local 469 President Fred Potter and fired Shred-it employee Breaion Grissom. CONGRESSMAN CHRIS SMITH’S OFFICE
The New Jersey State AFL-CIO in a statement thanked Smith for “continuing his long support of the labor movement by standing with our Teamsters brothers and sisters who are organizing the workers at Shred-it in Lawrenceville.”
Shred-it is a fully acquired brand of Stericycle Inc., a publicly traded corporation that generates billions of dollars in annual revenue.
Stericycle spokesperson Kelly Hilton said the company is “committed to maintaining a supportive and inclusive workplace in full compliance with all National Labor Relations Act and Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements and protections.”
“While we cannot comment on personnel matters, the health and safety of our team members is a top priority,” Hilton said in a statement this week. “Team members are encouraged to bring such matters to our attention, at any time, without fear of any adverse action being taken against them.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, “Stericycle’s Environmental Health and Safety, Human Resources, and Engineering teams have been focused on ensuring adequate supplies of PPE for our team members,” Hilton added. “We also implemented a number or protective measures for our drivers and front-line staff, including staggering shifts to promote social distancing, dedicating trucks to specific drivers, and implementing more rigorous cleaning protocols.”
Founded in 1989, Stericycle offers specialized medical and hazardous waste management services and secure information services to customers in the United States and around the world. It specifically provides secure information destruction services under the Shred-it brand.
This article and photo originally ran ion Page 1 & 3 of the Sunday, April 4, 2021 print edition of the Trentonian daily newspaper, and can be found online at: