Wednesday, August 6, 2008

CBS3: Cops Storm Plant Following Christmas Bonus Mishap

FRANCONIA TWP., Pa. (CBS 3) ? A miscommunication over Christmas bonuses prompted the response of over 70 officers and emergency personnel from surrounding towns on a meat packing plant in Montgomery County Friday.

The incident played out just before noon at the Mopac Rendering Plant at 249 Allentown Road in Franconia Township.

Franconia Township Chief of Police Joseph Kozeniewski said two employees at the plant were involved in a fight that ensued after a miscommunication over Christmas bonuses.

Officials said hundreds of workers in the cafeteria became upset over, what they said, was a missing Christmas bonus that they received before.

"That's why everyone was mad, that's why everyone was complaining, people wanted their bonus, everybody works hard," said a worker who did want to be identified.

Dozens of emergency personnel from surrounding townships responded to the scene.

Kozeniewski said, at an afternoon news conference, the large response was a precautionary measure.

"We had 73 police officers, sheriffs, and state troopers from around the county respond to the scene, which represents about 22 law enforcement agencies," added Kozeniewski.

No injuries were reported and officials said order was restored at the plant in about an hour.

Mopac's parent company in Green Bay said that the workers were a week early and that they would get their Christmas bonuses in next Friday's paycheck.

Two workers were arrested as a result of the incident. Police said one was released and another will be charged with disorderly conduct.

(© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

JWJ steps up for the workers:

On December 15, 2006, workers at the Moyer Rendering Plant in Souderton, PA were angered to find out that their employer was not going to give out the traditional Christmas bonuses.

"Every year they gave us bonuses. We really looked forward to it to get through the holidays and maybe have something extra under the tree for the kids," says Maria Garcia, one of the five workers that was involved in the work stoppage that was fired.

"We did not refuse to go back to work to get bonuses. The workers united to get some answers." States Maximo Franklin another worker dismissed shortly after the brief strike.

After the work stoppage, which last approximately 90 minutes before it was broken up by Souderton police, the five most outspoken workers were terminated.

It was then that Jobs with Justice got involved.

It was clear to us that these workers were fired because they were leaders among their coworkers. These worker leaders were encouraging collective action. A company can deal with angry workers, organized workers is what they fear. Though these workers were not in a union, the employer thought that this could be a bad sign of things to come.

Jobs with Justice teamed up with Robert Curley of O'Donoghue & O'Donoghue LLP and filed labor relations charges on behalf of the five terminated workers.


Judge George Aleman found that five workers who lead a work stoppage after not receiving the expected Christmas bonus were acting within their rights. Furthermore,
Judge Aleman found that all reasons given for the terminations were "...nothing but pretext"

All five workers, Geovanny Guzman, Maria Garcia, Jensy Olivio - Munoz, Maximo Franklin Mercado Peralta and Armando Ortiz de Jesus have since found new jobs. Now they will consider if they want return to their old jobs at the rendering plant.

Moyer Packing is likely to appeal the decision.

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