Narricot union flap goes to federal court

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2008

BOYKINS—A federal judge will hear arguments on Friday on whether to temporarily reinstate a union that was disbanded last year at Narricot Industries in Boykins.

Attorneys for the National Labor Relations Board and the International Textiles Group, which owns Narricot, will argue the merits of a motion to restore the union before District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith at 10 a.m. in Norfolk’s Eastern District Court.

The government filed for a temporary injunction in April seeking to require the company to restore its relationship with the International Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners until the labor board in Washington, D.C., can rule on the legality of the company’s September decision to withdraw recognition of the union.

That ruling could be substantially delayed, because three of five seats on the board have been vacant since last year and are unlikely to be filled easily during the campaign season.

An administrative law judge has ruled that the company illegally interfered with what should have been an employee-led effort to expel the union from the company. A vote by 60 percent of the employees to pull out of the union was improperly influenced by company officials, the government alleges.

The company has since refused to negotiate with union representatives and has made changes to pay and benefits structures without their consultation. The labor board, represented by Patricia Timmins, the acting regional director, responded by seeking the emergency court action sought in Friday’s hearing.