Judge Orders NCI to Rehire Fired Union Supporters

An NLRB administrative law judge in Fort Worth, Tex., found that the National Captioning Institute violated federal law when it fired two workers for their union activity, and committed other labor law violations.

NCI is a nonprofit corporation that provides closed captioning, subtitling, and other media services in Dallas; Santa Clarita, Calif.; and Chantilly, Va. NABET-CWA has been working with NCI workers who want union representation.

Judge Robert Ringler outlined management's illegal actions, which included firing two workers, interrogating employees, searching employees' chat logs for union discussions, sending anti-union emails to employees, maintaining an unlawful social media policy, and maintaining an unacceptable behavior policy.

Ringler found "abundant evidence of union animus" and pointed out that management's overblown reaction that resulted in stringent disciplinary measures and the termination of employee Mike Lukas was suspect. The reasons cited for termination of a second worker, Marie Hall, were "nonsensical" and "suggest invidious treatment," the judge said. Ringler also found that management was "untrustworthy for many reasons."

Ringer ordered NCI to cease and desist all unlawful practices, rescind illegal and overbroad policies, and offer the two fired workers reinstatement with full back pay, plus interest. NCI also was ordered to notify employees of the NLRB order by email and Intranet.

Eric Seggi is the NABET-CWA staff representative who has been working with the 150 captioners and other workers at NCI to gain a union voice. "This ruling is great news, especially for the two fired workers who have been out of work for more than a year. It’s been a tough fight," he said.

The workers at NCI include captioners for major networks and sports programming as well as workers in engineering, Internet Technology, and maintenance.