Union plans appeal after agency approves plant settlement

AP

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) A federal agency has approved a settlement for a potato processing plant in southern Idaho, but the union involved in the dispute plans to appeal the decision.

The National Labor Relations Board approved the settlement last month for the Lamb Weston plant in Twin Falls after the Teamsters union in Boise filed complaints against the company last year, The Times-News reported .

The union had claimed that company supervisors intimated and coerced employees before a union election in July.

Under the settlement, the company agrees to post workplace notices informing employees of their rights, but it does not admit to any wrongdoing.

"Our management team acted with integrity before, during and after the vote," Lamb Weston spokeswoman Shelby Stoolman said. "The overwhelming majority of employees 80 percent voted to not be represented by the union. The Regional Director of the NLRB has approved a settlement, and we are ready to move past this issue so we can focus on our business operations."

The union has until Friday to file an appeal on the board's decision, and it is seeking to move the case to state court, said Darel Hardenbrook, director of representation for Teamsters Local 483.

The union had sought criminal charges against the company, but local and state prosecutors rejected the request, saying there was not enough evidence to pursue a criminal case.

Hardenbrook said authorities are obligated to investigate complaints or violations of the right to work statute under Idaho law.

In a statement, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said his office reviewed the matter after they were contacted over the summer by Twin Falls County prosecutors.

"Federal law provides that once the NLRB became involved, state or local authorities including my office were immediately pre-empted from having any role," Wasden said. "At that point, it became a federal matter to be handled by federal authorities only."

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Information from: The Times-News, http://www.magicvalley.com

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