Unionization victory spoiled by accusations at New York solar firm

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EmPower Solar stopped 40% of its workforce but says the action is unrelated to the recent triumphant election of employees to join UAW.
EmPower Solar stopped 40% of its workforce but says the action is unrelated to the recent triumphant election of employees to join UAW.

EmPower Solar stopped 40% of its workforce but says the action is unrelated to the recent triumphant election of employees to join UAW.

EmPower Solar, a New York-based solar panel company, has faced allegations of union busting after furloughing a significant portion of its workforce following a successful union election. The move has drawn scrutiny and sparked accusations of targeting unionizing workers.

Unionization Efforts and Victory

Employees at EmPower Solar, dismayed by poor working conditions and job-related challenges, sought representation from the United Auto Workers (UAW) after witnessing the gains achieved during strikes at major automakers. 

Despite resistance from the company and consultants specializing in union avoidance, the workers at EmPower voted to join UAW Local 259 just before Christmas.

Allegations of Retaliation

However, within a week of the successful union vote, EmPower furloughed 21 workers until 2025, drawing immediate accusations of employing a “union busting” tactic. UAW Local 259 contends that this action directly targets workers involved in unionizing efforts.

Company’s Response and Counter-Claims

EmPower Solar refuted allegations of retribution, asserting that the decision to furlough employees was unrelated to the union vote. 

They cited a business slowdown as the primary reason for the workforce reduction, emphasizing its detachment from the UAW or the election outcome.

Worker’s Perspective and Ongoing Protest

Daniel Lozano, a furloughed solar installer at EmPower, expressed concerns over inadequate compensation for the risks and demands of the job, including working at heights and challenging weather conditions. 

The union plans to stage a rally outside the company’s headquarters in protest against the alleged retribution.

The situation at EmPower Solar underscores the tension between labor rights and management decisions, with accusations of unfair treatment following a significant unionization victory.

Gary Monroe

Gary Monroe is a seasoned contributor to the Los Angeles Business Magazine, where he offers insightful analysis on local business trends and economic developments. With a focus on Los Angeles' dynamic commercial landscape, Gary's articles provide valuable perspectives for entrepreneurs and business professionals in the city.

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