Local

Yakima Labor Dispute Led To Presidential Powers Ruling

Northwest News Network | June 26, 2014 7:29 p.m. | Updated: June 26, 2014 10:22 p.m.

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File photo of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

File photo of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

Daderot, Wikimedia

A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday stemmed from a labor dispute in Yakima, Washington. The court’s ruling narrowed the president’s power to make recess appointments when the Senate is not in session.

It all started over 40 cents. That’s the hourly pay raise Teamsters Local 760 in Yakima claims a Pepsi bottling plant agreed to and then backed away from.

In 2012, the National Labor Relations Board upheld the union’s position that it had a ratified contract. But that’s when the local parties became pawns in a much larger game between national business interests and the labor-friendly Obama Administration.

Teamsters negotiator Bob Koerner said approximately 40 workers remain in limbo, working without a contract. He said it is, “unfortunate for the employees. It is not fair for them.”

Koerner said the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on presidential appointments during Senate recesses does not directly address the contract dispute in Yakima. The underlying case will now be re-heard by the NLRB, with members who’ve been duly confirmed.

The Pepsi bottling franchise involved in this contract dispute, the Noel Canning Corporation, referred inquiries to its attorney, Gary Lofland. 

He proposes an alternate next step. “We’re certainly hoping that the Teamsters will come back to the table to bargain,” said Lofland. Asked how a labor contract dispute involving a family-run bottling company evolved into a lofty ruling on precepts of Constitutional law, Lofland said, “It was happenstance and timing. It could just as well have been another case.”

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