Eight tower technicians represented by the Tower Climbers Union/CWA, who established the first Tower Climbers Union at QualTek Wireless, have settled after they charged QualTek with unfair labor practices while technicians in their Henderson, Nevada, office were organizing.
The CWA, represented by two law firms, brought charges before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against QualTek on September 9, 2022, alleging that while the Tower Climbers Union was organizing, QualTek was at fault for the following violations: Refusal to Furnish Information, Concerted Activities (Retaliation, Discharge, Discipline), and Coercive Statements (Threats, Promises of Benefits, etc.).
In May 2022, the workers achieved formal union representation.
However, according to a December 21, 2023 CWA press release, “When QualTek filed for bankruptcy a year later and laid off the workers, the company was required under U.S. labor law to bargain with the union over the impact of the layoffs. The settlement is a result of that bargaining.”
“The total amount of the severance package is $40,000, which will be split among the 8 workers who were employed by QualTek in Henderson at the time of the layoffs,” the release stated.
A CWA spokesperson later informed Wireless Estimator that the severance wasn’t just about layoffs, but was to resolve the labor practices charges. “It was both a settlement of the Unfair Labor Practices and affects bargaining over the impact of the layoffs. The impact of layoffs is a mandatory subject of bargaining, even for newly certified bargaining units that have not finished bargaining their first contract.”
“The severance money is a big help for us and our families. The agreement we worked out for the company to remain neutral when workers want to join a union means that the movement for better working conditions and safety in our industry that we helped start will get stronger,” said Derek Combs, a member of the Tower Climbers Union/CWA and former QualTek tower technician.
QualTek may have accepted the negotiated settlement instead of arguing the NLRB charges to avoid legal fees that could far exceed $40,000 following preparation, discovery, and other litigation costs.
QualTek emerged from bankruptcy in July.
Employers must still adhere to applicable federal, state, and local labor laws and regulations when conducting layoffs, irrespective of the presence of a collective bargaining agreement. These regulations encompass aspects such as notice requirements, nondiscrimination, and other employment-related issues.