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Strikers at Spa Firm Denied Reinstatement

July 25, 1998

Overruling the National Labor Relations Board, a federal appeals court has denied reinstatement to 200 striking workers whose employer, a Pomona spa manufacturer, illegally videotaped a union meeting.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling was unusual because it rejected the board's finding that the labor law violation was one cause of the strike.

If an employer's lawbreaking is a contributing cause of a walkout, the strikers are entitled to reinstatement and back pay when the job action ends. But if the strike is caused entirely by economic issues or the union's bid for recognition, the strikers can be permanently replaced and are only entitled to rehiring, without back pay, when jobs become available.

The ruling involves a June 1993 strike at Cal Spas, where the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America was trying to organize employees.

The action that the labor board found to be a cause of the strike was a security guard's videotaping of a meeting between employees and union representatives after the union had asked for an election.

The board ruled the surveillance illegal and said it was a partial cause of the strike, entitling the strikers to reinstatement and back pay. The appeals court agreed that the taping was illegal but said it was unrelated to the strike.

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