Judge orders Nipomo landscaper to rehire employees, bargain with union

December 5, 2011

A U.S. District Court judge ordered a landscaping company in Nipomo to temporarily rehire two employees who were laid off after seeking to organize a union, filing complaints, and offering testimony to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), according to the NLRB website.

As part of the temporary injunction, Central District of California Judge R. Gary Klausner also ordered Jason Lopez’s Planet Earth “to bargain with the Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition, and refrain from threatening, interrogating or otherwise interfering with employees in response to their activity on behalf of the union.”

Several Planet Earth employees began a campaign to unionize their facility in January 2010 following Lopez’s repeated failure to pay employees on time, the NLRB website says.

In May 2010, the union filed a representation petition with Region 31. The union was voted in during a September 2010 election.

Immediately after the election, Lopez fired one of the employees promoting unionization. On the following Monday, Lopez laid-off the second employee, the NLRB website says.

The region investigated and issued a complaint alleging that Lopez “refused to bargain with the Union and laid-off, interrogated, threatened, promised benefits, and granted benefits in response to the Union organizing campaign,” according to the NLRB website

The federal order will remain in place until NLRB Administrative Law Judge Gerald Etchingham, who recently heard the case, comes to a decision.

The NLRB is an independent federal agency that protects the rights of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve their wages and working conditions.


I do find it supremely ironic that the “free market” crowd here is lambasting the decision of the court on behalf of the union; this is a fine example of “free markets” at its best. The employer was “free” to abuse his employees, to not pay them on time, to have them work through breaks or whatever, the employees were “free” to find another job, OR they were “free” to look into joining a union. They decided to join a union since they didn’t believe that the employer was going to play fair, and they followed the rules for doing so. The employer was given a contract with the union represented employees and did not want to deal with any of the situation; he had a “free” choice to make at that time, either sign the contract and abide by the terms, or dissolve his business. He chose to ignore the terms of the union agreement and the union represented employees took him to court to have the contract enforced, which is a function of a free society, to have your grievances addressed. The employer is against a rock and a hard place now, and it is because of his actions that he is in the position he is in now, so he needs to “man-up” and face the consequences. If he cannot make a profit with the union contract in place, maybe he isn’t that good of a business man.


I’m gonna take a stab at guessing that his “slow to pay” situation was likely a direct result of “slow pay” from customers as well as a cash flow crunch that plagues many small businesses from time to time. This doesn’t justify the ocurrence but I don’t know a small business in this type of trade that HASN’T experienced this at some time or another.

Someone please explain to me how a Union is going to help this small business with this type of problem? To be forced into Union status when 99% of your competition isn’t, and 50% of those are forced or willing to pay under the table, how is this business expected to survive?

Do tell!

The Gimlet Eye

I wonder whether the employees are illegal aliens? That would be ironic! Illegal aliens trying to unionize!


So if they are illegal they shouldn’t get paid?


I just have to shake my head at how you stick words in everyone’s mouths. Geezzzz


It was a question. Without an answer then one can only guess what Gimlet means.


They better do some thing there are fewer and fewer everyday


The employers’ ability to pay is inconsequential to the issue at hand. The issue is the employer’s illegal actions.

It sounds very much like the employer was beyond abusive. Pretty much, an employer can treat you as badly as they want…unless it is when you are engaging in a protected activity.

Joining a union, and the process of joining a union, talking to union people, etc., are protected activities.

I think it is a reasonable decision that laying them off is a retaliatory measure, which is a form of harassment. That is being a class-A jerk, which really only seems to become a legal problem for the employer because he did it in retaliation for a protected activity.


He needs to contact all his clients and inform them that he has started up under a new name otherwise he will have to charge higher prices. His clients will appreciate his plight and continue to use his services under his new business name.

Good Luck to this business man and to hell with the Union’s. If people weren’t paid on time then that was something that would have been corrected with a complaint to the labor board.

The Gimlet Eye

I have to agree. It’s fine for the employer to fire them. It would also have been fine for the employees to say to hell with the employer and simply quit. Life’s a two-way street. There are other employees. There are other jobs.

Ted Slanders

deleted by authors request


Slanders, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Forming a UNION because the boss couldn’t pay you on time is not how the system works. There are check and balances in place to protect workers who don’t receive their pay as agreed. This incident simply calls for a complain to the CA Labor Board for relief. The CLB not only make sure you get your pay but they fine the Employer and require that the Employer pay additional monies (up to double) for the time that the Employee’s went without a timely paycheck. The whole process takes less than 2-4 weeks.

Now go back to your Bible thumbing and leave this stuff to the people in the know. Frankly, you shouldn’t even be commenting on this subject since you’re education seems to be deficient in just about everything other a limited home study Theology course.

Ted Slanders

Oh, Cindy,

My main premise was your cavalier attitude with the employees not being paid on time and your bashing of the Unions that have given you so much since their existence. Can you spell “h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e?” Sure you can.

Your position that it takes 2-4 weeks for restitution to the CLB is comical upon it’s face! LOL Even if you do win at the CLB, the employer still has the right to appeal that decision. If you do manage to win a significant amount at the CLB, it is likely that the employer will appeal. AT THIS POINT THE CASE STARTS ALL OVER AND GOES TO COURT!!!! HELLO?

Thusly, you may be waiting a long time to get anything by going to the California Labor Board. For sure, if you were on the receiving end in this issue, and experiencing actual FACTS, instead of your ever so wanting and insidious facts, you would be taking a different tone! lol

Before you become the “pot calling the kettle black” once again, relative to your education scenario directed towards me, you need to practice what you preach. I am NOT disparaging you, but I want to help you, educationally, relative to YOU using proper English, therefore appearing as educated.

In chronological order within your post above; it’s “complaint” instead of your use of “complain”. Two mutually exclusive concepts. You forgot to use the plural of “makes” instead of your singular use of “make”. It’s the plural of “requires” instead of your singular word of “require”. There is no need for an apostrophe in the word “Employee’s” as you’ve done, because it is not followed by possessive words, ex; “… the employee’s John and Julie….”

Your use of “you’re” is not correct, whereas it should be “your education”. You forgot to place the conjunction “than” before the adjective “other” in your last paragraph as well.

This is just another example of why the woman should remain silent! (Timothy 2:11-12)


You’ve got me on the typo’s. As to the rest, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Everyday that the Employer fails to make restitution the fine increases, starting from the day of the offense. I have been taken to the labor board so don’t tell me how it works.

Ted Slanders

Cindy, you’re not getting it!

The question remains, HOW LONG IT TAKES TO RECEIVE THE FINES AND BACK PAY! GET IT? The fines can increase to a million dollars or more, but the FACTS are, when is it going to be paid?! Meanwhile, the worker has not put food upon the table for their family! Do you understand this most simple deduction?????!

I have two labor attorney friends that tell me it is taking forever to seek restitution in these cases, especially in NON-UNION work places! I wonder why? In part, it’s because of no protections under a UNION contract! So don’t try and tell me, and others, that you know in what the hell you’re talking about under the current economic conditions, because you’re blowing smoke!

This bible passage is so true in your case, where women are silly and are easily led into error! (2 Timothy 3:6)


You don’t know what you’re talking about and I have attorney friends too. I consulted them when I got dragged to the CLB for not paying terminated Employees every penny they were owed including any accrued vacation time within 24 hours of terminating them. I had paid them on their regular pay date but I still had to pay them full pay for every day that had lapsed past the date they were terminated and the date they were paid (4 days).

Starting a union because you were paid late and then taking it to court is the LOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGG way to go. It makes no sense. I have news for you, the CLB can shut your business down faster than a union can. Ever hear of scab labor vs not being legally allowed to operate?

Ted Slanders

Your quotes;

“This incident simply calls for a complain to the CA Labor Board for relief.”

“Everyday that the Employer fails to make restitution the fine increases, starting from the day of the offense.”

“I have news for you, the CLB can shut your business down faster than a union can. “

Once again, your reading comprehension goes wanting. In my post relative to your somewhat of a refutation, the main premise was the TIME IT TAKES FOR REPARATIONS, and any other monies due to the worker! Reread my post!

Your use of “starting a union because you were paid late” has absolutely NOTHING to do with what I presented. Once again, and for the last time, my premise in my last postings was the FACT in how long it can take to get one’s pay and fines with the CLB. You are NOT addressing this entity, but only want to assume as a premise, the conclusion in which you wish to reach to save face!

I am sorry to hear, as an employer, that you didn’t follow the correct procedures with your employees and was taken to task by being reported to the CLB. If you’re in business, you have certain protocols to follow and to be aware of, therefore, you were obviously at fault. Any reparations that you had to pay shows that you were wrong at the onset! Not that it matters to you, but in a Union environment, the shop steward would have worked with you to save the grief and penalties.

Reread your previous comments, and my rebuttals once again. Learn to differentiate between what I proposed, and what you want to hear. I refuse to take any further time with you because of your lack of comprehension, and that you only want the facts that you present to substantiate your otherwise “sandcastles of speculation!”



Ted Slanders


Certainly you can understand the law of “cause and effect?” Yes? Good. The CAUSE of these employees in doing what they did was the fact that they weren’t being paid. Get it? Therefore, they used their FREE SPEECH and filed complaints, and went before the NLRB to seek restitution. God forbid, isn’t that just terrible?! This all takes time to file these complaints and the waiting period, meantime, no pay, but probably only promises were given.

Furthermore, barring the threats and interrogation by their employer, and further promises, they probably wanted to unionize for the sake of protection of this nonpayment of wages from happening again! Once again, cause and effect. Such insolence to take against their employer just because they weren’t being paid! Terrible!

Oh sure, you can facetiously say that they should leave and have gotten another job, since they’re so many to be had in our county, NOT, and the unemployment rate being so high to begin with! What’s better, actually being paid for the job you have, or getting back into looking for another one?

By just reading your posts and seeing your attitude here a CCN, I can just see you under the same circumstances of NOT being paid for your work and what you would do under the same circumstances! LOL It’s so easy to “Monday Morning Quarterback” situations like this, without experiencing it yourself!

Furthermore, if you have the time between your godly womanly duties, read what I stated BELOW in what Unions have done for YOU, or your possible spouse. In doing this, you might take just a “little” different stance and refrain from stating “the hell with the unions”. . But, I doubt it.


Okay, I’m still banking on this Bible stuff as an act. You just make to much sense on this topic to be as radical on this Bible stuff as you claim. I believe that you let your act drop for a few minutes.

Ted Slanders


Barring the FACT that you were NOT going to discuss anything with me anymore because of me being an alleged “troll”, I am surprised that you broke down at this time to do so!

Relative to the topic at hand, always ask yourself this very simple Christian acronym; WWJD? Now, does my discourse within this thread make any more sense to you? Of course it does.


I wasn’t reading your stuff until you replied to Cindy. I still think you’re a fake but other than your last sentences I like posts in this thread, it’s like a whole new TS.

I am enjoying this discussion between you and Cindy, its’ a shame that the mod. deleted your post.


its’ a shame that the mod. deleted your post Ted emailed and requested his duplicate comment deleted.


He could do that, but his ex-employees would certainly learn about it and, if the ex-employer mentioned one word about the employees, why he closed his business, his union issues, etc., he would REALLY be in trouble.

Whether or not they went to the labor board first is their own decision. YOU weren’t the one being harassed by the a**hole employer.

The employees were within their rights to join a union and the employer really screwed up when he retaliated by laying them off.

The Gimlet Eye

Absent the union issue, he would still be facing “consequences”; he fired his employees, and now he must find new ones. The only reason that he had those employees in the first place was that his business had grown beyond what he could do himself.

If he has done wrong, the wrong will not be removed by firing the employees or finding new ones.

But neither will the wrong be removed by the state forcing him to hire those employees back, or accept “unionized” employees. The state cannot force him to run his business “right” (whatever that means), or be a better businessman.

That is something that he must learn to do for himself.

Ted Slanders

Virtually ALL the benefits you have at work, whether you work in the public or private sector, you enjoy everyday because the unions fought hard and long for them against big business with their billions of dollars of bonuses to their hierarchy. Corporations did everything they could to prevent giving you common and decent rights! READ YOUR HISTORY! Many union leaders and members even lost their lives for things YOU take for granted today.

The next time you of God’s creation whine about unions, Jesus wants you to remember these 36 Reasons why you are to thank a Union, because over time they gave you the following, to wit;

Weekends, All Breaks at Work, including your Lunch Breaks, Paid Vacation,

FMLA, Sick Leave, Social Security, Minimum Wage, Civil Rights Act/Title VII (Prohibits Employer Discrimination), 8-Hour Work Day, Overtime Pay, Child Labor Laws, Occupational Safety & Health Act of a SAFE WORKPLACE (OSHA), 40 Hour Work Week, Worker’s Compensation (Worker’s Comp), Unemployment Insurance, Pensions, Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations, Employer Health Care Insurance, Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees, Wrongful Termination Laws.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Whistleblower Protection Laws, Employee Polygraph Protect Act (Prohibits Employer from using a lie detector test on an employee), Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS), Compensation increases and Evaluations (Raises), Sexual Harassment Laws, Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) , Holiday Pay, Employer Dental, Life, and Vision Insurance, Privacy Rights, Pregnancy and Parental Leave, Military Leave, The Right to Strike, Public Education for Children, equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 (Requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work), Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States.

ANYONE, and I repeat, ANYONE, that whines about Unions in any way whatsoever, but uses ANY of the above entities within their nonunion workplace, are total and complete hypocrites, period! We know what Jesus thought about hypocrites, don’t we?!

Yeah, just pay everyone minimum wage and be over with it. Who cares that the Banksters, Wall Street, the Republican and Democrat Party, the Federal Reserve, and off shore business practices, have taken this country to it’s knees to no fault of the MIDDLE CLASS.

Who cares if the GOP wants to put the final sword into the MIDDLE CLASS by wanting to eliminate Social Security and Medicare, along with other benefits?! Then, there is a certain faction that doesn’t want God’s creation to have a livable and decent wage along with protections of collective bargaining? ARE YOU KIDDING? WWJD?

Jesus said: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless.” ( Proverbs 31:8) As this passages signifies, JESUS WAS PRO-UNION AND AGAINST CORPORATIONS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE WORKER!

To my fellow Christians, you better start reading your bible, instead of having it spoon fed to you on Sunday Mornings! Hypocrites make Jesus and I sick!


Ted, I am proud to say that I have never availed myself of any of your 36 reasons that you credit to unions. Further more, I strongly question your assertion that the unions gave us all of these conditions. But then again, I also strongly question your assertion that Jesus had anything to do with this.

But we do agree about Hypocrites. I worry for you. Please be careful!


Just shut the business down and open a new one with a new name. Then take applications for new hire’s. The gub needs to get out of our lives.


You were foolish, Jason. You should have just shut the operation down. I’d suggest you do it now! In a landscape trade in California, you’ll never make enough money to keep the business afloat with a Union involved.


I totally agree. If I was faced with this, I would just close up shop.


Just let the free market take care of this. If they are bad employers, no one will work for them – that will make them change or go out of business. If they are breaking employment laws (not union laws) then they will be fined. No employer should be forced to unionize.

It is called taking responsibility for yourself and your own future.

With all due respect, Ron, the free market should decide what is a fair wage for a fair day’s work. Not you, not me, and not the govt.


That’s not true, people are so desperate for work that they will put up with abuse. According to this article this guy isn’t taking responsibility for his actions. Free market, you like the insurance companies and the banks and all the other ‘free market’ thieves that are robbing us blind everyday. Your term for ‘free market’ has huge amount of people declaring bankruptcy over medical costs and too many people living in poverty. Free market has it’s place but it also needs guidelines and oversight. We absolutely need govt. oversight or else greed will take over as it is now and there will be class warfare. The rich will keep getting richer and the 99%ers will keep getting poorer if we have it your way.

[singing] Look for that union lable.

The Gimlet Eye

“the insurance companies and the banks and all the other ‘free market’ thieves that are robbing us blind everyday.”

That scenario hardly constitutes a “free market”! Those corporations are getting away with those ripoffs with the blessing of their confederates in the government. That’s what we call “crony capitalism.” A less polite way of putting it is “fascism.”

A “free market” DOES NOT preclude the rule of law; it is BASED upon it!

If those people have done wrong, they should be punished for it. If they are not, then one can only conclude that this society is not run by the rule of law, but by the law of the Gangsters!

The Gimlet Eye

Exactly, sloweb. It is the MARKET which determines prices, and that includes wages. Wages are also determined by labor productivity.

There is a lot of post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning going on here. From that point of view, the rise in wages in the early twentieth century was due principally to the actions of the unions.

In fact, the rise was due to the growth of capital investment and scientific and technological advances.

The biggest mistake and delusion is to consider the rise in wages only in the short run, while failing to consider the affects of this advance on all workers.

It’s entirely possible that unions have actually suppressed wages somewhat.

The challenge of economics is that it is often counterintuitive.

The positive side of unions is that they have done much to protect the health of their members.

Unfortunately, in recent years, union actions have done much to decrease productivity.


How deftly forced conformity by government plunder falls on the socialist mind. I will hire and fire whomever I please, whenever it suits me. Don’t like it, don’t let the door hit you on butt on the way to the unemployment office.


So far we have two people posting that don’t care if employees don’t get paid and I’m sure that there will be many more. Let them eat cake, those little low life employees don’t need to pay their bills. I knew that we’d have the anti union people that would chime in and once again not worry about the workers. This is a perfect example of just why we need unions. I know it’s hard especially for a small business but if he can’t pay his employees then he needs to find a new line of business. I’m sure that if this guy had been paying his employees then this wouldn’t even be an issue.


Typo, I have not seen anyone say that they want care if any employee is not paid. Don’t mix the facts.

The only thing that I see people objecting to is the imposition of unions onto employers that don’t want to run their business that way.


That’s how I read it. I’ve seen a couple of ‘if they don’t like then they can quite’ statements. That to me is saying that they don’t care about the employees. Not one of you has had any sympathy for the employees. The posters here (most) would rather these employees be unemployed than get paid on time. I don’t want to pay workman’s comp for my business but I have to. Employers must do things that they don’t want to do and if it takes a union to help this guy get on the right track then that’s the way it should be. Everyone’s entitled to fair working conditions. If the employer can’t handle the union making sure that it’s members get fair working conditions then the guy should find a new line of work.

It’s stories like this one and comments like I read here that make me even more pro union.


Typo, I support your right to run your business the way you want to. If that is unionized – good for you. Really, I mean it.

But you don’t sound willing to let me run my business the way I want to. You want me to run it the way *YOU* want me to. Typical.

Free market is when you run yours your way and I run mine my way and if either or both of us have good ideas about how we run our business, then we are successful. Now THAT is the American way – or at least it used to be!


So if you want to not pay your employees that’s okay because of the ‘free market’, you should be able to run your business ‘your way’. Wow, we need to make sure that we don’t let the repubs win the next election. We can’t keep squishing the little guy and taking their rights away. Slave labor is right around the corner,,,oh wait it’s already here, thanks Koch Bros and all of your pawns. where else can filthy rich people get laborers for 23 cents an hour while making huge profits,,aw the good ole USA. Now you don’t care whether people get paid at all,,yes, that’s the American way.

Mr. Holly

This makes it as clear as it can get. Away with individual freedom and power to the unions.

Why would anyone want to be a business owner and put everything you have earned on the line and then have a union, endorsed by the judicial system, come along and dictate how you will hire and pay your employees. This is really unbelievable if you are a business owner. If you are a do nothing employee you have to love the unions.


You are so right, screw those judges that demand that employees get paid on time so they can pay their rent and feed their families. The bums should work for free.


Typo, ever hear of the Labor Board? That is where you take a complaint when you don’t get paid on time. The CA Labor Board works well and will fine Employers and even make them pay extra for breaking the labor laws. You don’t go to a court or union oriented judge because you got paid late when there is no union to begin with. This is pure BS.


What ever happened to – If you don’t like the job, find another?


What ever happened to paying to paying an honest days pay for an honest days work? Ontime!


Ron, sometimes the bad economy hurts employers too, and they get caught in a cash squeeze. When this happens, you either go out of business or pay employees late. The banks are not giving credit lines for situations like this anymore.

Just because an employer pays late does not mean they are evil. It means they are having a cash flow crunch.


I can understand that and I have empathy for such employers. You’re absolutely correct, the banks (b@stards) aren’t giving credit lines anymore even to employers with good credit so I get that. But I also have empathy for the employee. If he can’t pay his employees then he needs to cut back on his employees. Not as much work=less employees. The employees have bills to pay and families to feed, they need to know when they are going to get paid and it needs to be reliable.


And it’s so easy to find another job.