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Workers win settlement, back pay from Alaska fuel distributor

delta-western-dutch-harborDUTCH HARBOR, Alaska (Oct. 26, 2015) — In March, The Stand reported that fuel distributor Delta Western — whose corporate parent is Seattle-based Saltchuk Resources, Inc. — was facing charges for retaliating against workers who supported a union and for a pattern of discrimination targeting Filipino-American and Asian-Pacific Islander American workers in Dutch Harbor, including termination, demotion, substandard work conditions, and a ban on speaking Tagalog at work.

On Oct. 22, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union reported that Delta Western has agreed to pay workers who filed claims of illegal retaliation and discrimination for supporting a union. The settlement came roughly one year after Manolito “Mo” Reyes was terminated at Delta Western’s fuel terminal there, the remote location known to millions of Americans as home port for the “Deadliest Catch” television series.

Reyes will receive a settlement to compensate him for one year’s worth of lost wages after managers improperly terminated the union supporter. The settlement was signed by the company’s managers and officials from the National Labor Relations Board.

“When management fired me, my co-workers went on strike to protest Saltchuk’s conduct,” said Reyes. “Today, we succeeded in having managers clear my good name and restore the income that I lost.”

In addition to paying Reyes, the company agreed to expunge the unfair discipline from his personnel file.

delta-western-picket2“This settlement confirms that Mo is a good worker and a good union man, who should not have been fired by the company,” said Leo Dacio, a co-worker at the Dutch Harbor fuel dock.

Dacio says he also faced retaliation and harassment for supporting the union, explaining that Saltchuk’s affiliate demoted him and cut his pay just months before they fired Reyes.  At the same time, the company promoted two employees who didn’t support the union and provided them extra pay for “housing expenses.”

As a condition of settling the federal charges, the company agreed to promote Dacio with a raise, while providing him with compensation for his lost wages.  His personnel record will also be cleared of unfair entries.

“This is a vindication,” said Robin Marquez, another employee. “We knew all along that Mo and Leo were unfairly disciplined, and now the public knows, too.”

Delta Western workers in Dutch Harbor last year successfully formed a new labor union through the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific, an ILWU affiliate, and went on strike several times in the last year over federal charges they filed against the company. Currently, employees are bargaining a contract with managers.

“This settlement is important, but what we want is respect on the job and a fair contract so that we can take care of our families.  This is a very hard job and it is really expensive to live here,” said employee Erwin Riodil.

“All of us have been bargaining an agreement with the company, whose representatives have unfortunately slowed the process almost to a halt for months,” said fuel dock worker Art Guiang. “If management had just signed a fair contract with us, we could have used the new rules to resolve these issues.”

IBU-logo“Saltchuk’s fueling operation in Dutch Harbor is being forced to address some serious violations of federal law,” said Alan Coté, president of the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific (IBU).  “Workers are telling us that they want a fair contract to protect their rights on the job.  I have reached out to the company, telling them to work cooperatively with these newly unionized workers.  I am hopeful these unfortunate incidents are behind us and that we can all move forward in a productive way.”

For more information about the IBU, visit their website.

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