UNION TOWNSHIP - The nation’s largest Indian food manufacturer has been accused of trying to prevent its employees from unionizing.
The National Labor Relations Board has determined that Deep Foods, based in Union Township, must rehire four employees who were fired for trying to organize the company’s workers.
Cesar Suarez was one of the employees who was let go. Suarez performed maintenance at Deep Foods since 2010. He and three other co-workers were trying to organize employees into a union to improve conditions at the business. Workers say that they were often verbally abused by management and worked 11 hours days with only one break.
Suarez works two jobs. He had an agreement with his boss that he can come into work late because of this. However, he says he was fired in August and felt it had to do with the fact he was trying to organize employees.
"For four years I was working late but in the last month they told me ‘You work late, so you are fired’ because they knew I was organizing the people."
Suarez says that the company’s plant manager, Francisco Figueroa, first offered him a new position with more money. Suarez says that he turned the offer down, but Figueroa kept pushing.
“On the fourth or fifth day [Figueroa] says ‘OK we know you are organizing the people you are inviting for meetings and that's against the company,’" Suarez explains.
The National Labor Relations Board sited the company and managers like Figueroa after they illegally interrogated employees, promised promotions if they agreed not to organize and created the impression that employees were under surveillance.
An attorney for the company tells News 12 New Jersey, “The Company denies all allegations. Since we are in litigation, I can’t comment any further.”
The attorney also says that the company will appeal the decision that the fired workers should get back pay.