Delta Western Workers Seek Union Membership

Tuesday, February 18 2014

Pipa Escalante/KUCB

A labor dispute is brewing between a regional fuel distributor and its staff in Unalaska. As KUCB’s Lauren Rosenthal reports, employees of Delta Western say the company doesn’t want them to unionize.

Delta Western has about 16 employees in Unalaska to fill up commercial vessels and sell home heating fuel.

Early Sunday morning, about half of those workers walked off the job and onto a picket line with members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

[Chanting protestors]

Protestors: "Delta Western unfair, Delta Western unfair."

Leo Dacio is a dock driver for Delta Western. He's been with them:

Dacio: "About five years, yeah."

He and his co-workers want to join the union. But Dacio alleges that the company has been trying to discourage them.

Dacio: "Yeah, we have a 401k [retirement savings plan] but they say that the 401k company that they have won't be dealing with us if we're union. So they're threatening to stop that."

Dacio also alleged that for months, they’ve been harassed by their supervisor. During a recent snowstorm:

Dacio: "He had me shovel down at the dock where I could use an equipment. But he told me to use manual labor." [laughs]

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union sent an organizer to Unalaska last week.

Jon Brier helped put together the walkout. And he says the union also filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board on the workers’ behalf.

Brier: "It’s called an unfair labor practice. It’s discrimination against these folks for exercising their rights to be union."

In the complaint, the union alleges that Delta Western threatened at least two pro-union workers with disciplinary action and had their work assignments changed.

Brier says that all seven employees who walked out on Sunday morning were to back to work by the end of the day.

On Monday, the workers delivered a letter to Delta Western asking the company to recognize them as union members.

Brier says the company has not yet responded to that letter.

Delta Western’s site manager in Unalaska declined to comment. Representatives from Delta Western’s parent company, North Star Petroleum, weren’t available on Tuesday.

This isn’t the first time Delta Western’s employees in Unalaska have tried to unionize. In 2007, they considered joining the Teamsters and then the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The movement to join the ILWU went to a vote. But according to National Labor Relations Board records, the measure failed to get support from a majority of workers.

CLARIFICATION: The Delta Western workers are seeking membership in the Inlandboatmen's Union, which is the marine division of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. 

Dutch Harbor the rock on Thursday, March 13 2014:

The state of Alaska is an "At Will" state you can be let go from your job for petty reasons and replaced very easily. A union affords some protection for losing your job unfairly. Whatever Company polices are put out in a company is really worthless as long as this state is an "At Will" working state.

More Unions on Friday, February 21 2014:

OSHA, NLRB, FMLA, overtime, the weekend, child labor laws, ect all brought to you by UNIONS! Thank You! No one "deserves" to be harassed, treated like crap, or underpaid. Even "unskilled" processors....

unions sound like social injustice to me on Friday, February 21 2014:

Processors are unskilled labor - they deserve minimum wage.

We now have OSHA and the NLRB to protect workers. We have laws that protect workers, and the unions no longer serve any – ANY – purpose short of lining the union bosses pockets and electing other cronies with their huge member paid-for treasure chest.

Union members make 27% more than the average private sector employee and they want that private sector worker to pay for their union benefits.

hmmmmm on Thursday, February 20 2014:


Really on Thursday, February 20 2014:

That's all we need is lazy union processors lol

Equality for All on Thursday, February 20 2014:

The processing plant workers should strongly consider unionizing - the conditions in the plants are leaps and bounds behind what is considered acceptable working conditions in the rest of the country, and they're being taken advantage of TERRIBLY.

Encrypto de El Paso on Thursday, February 20 2014:

If you don't stand up for yourself you will be used and thrown away and probably not taken care of after you retire. You are giving a prime piece of your life in time to the company where you work so you better damn well make them share the wealth - to a point that takes care of employees and respects the rights of the company owner to make his profit. That's what unions do and by the way they also I still a level of professionalism that isn't found as easily elsewhere.

You can rest assured that without the right to organize we'd slip right back into the days of dangerous work conditions and minimal pay. It's impossible for owners not to be jaded if they see their money wasted by a lazy crew or are victims of the blue collar cold shoulder, and let's face it these things go on all the time we are a rude country. So of course the owners usually see most rank and file employees as pains in their asses.

:) on Wednesday, February 19 2014:

Unions help the people who work for companies get better pay and treatment. I can't believe someone would be against that? Also, jobs leaving the country and low profit margins are not because of unions, they are results of CEO's and other greedy assholes who want to be billionaires instead of millionaires. Always have to grow, never be happy with the millions they are already making! Absurd to think that we should help those greedy few and not the people who do the hard work make living wages. This is why the country is in the hole now, allowing corporations to crap all over the people.

Unions are a thing of the past on Wednesday, February 19 2014:

Unions have hurt our economy by forcing companies to pay wages and benefits that their members may like but are not competitive to competition. This means fewer overall jobs, lower profit margins for the companies, and more jobs leaving the country.

Hardworking and competent people who work for non-union companies do fine. Unions artificially inflate wages and costs. The market is the only fair way to establish the value of labor. There are plenty of organizations looking out for workers safety the remaining issue is wage and the labor market will sort that out.

About Time on Tuesday, February 18 2014:

workers united will never be defeated!!!!

Cindi on Tuesday, February 18 2014:

Awesome! Keep up the fight Delta Western Employees! We're behind you 110!

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