Press Release
May 7, 2007

Federal Court Jury Finds For Graniterock Against Teamsters Union

On Thursday, May 4, a seven-day jury trial in San Jose concluded with a unanimous verdict in favor of Graniterock. In 2004, Graniterock filed the lawsuit originally seeking an injunction requiring that the strike end and employees return to work. The lawsuit also sought damages from the Teamsters for breach of contract. The jury agreed with Graniterock that on July 2 of that year the Union’s members ratified acceptance of Graniterock’s contract proposal. The jury rejected the Teamsters’ claim that the ratification was only a “straw poll” regarding one of the items in the proposal. The Teamsters then told employees that they were still on strike until August 22, 2004, when a second vote was taken.

“The jury saw through the Union’s claim that the vote was advisory,” said Alan Levins, of Littler Mendelson’s San Francisco office, who represented Graniterock during the trial. “The Union tried to have it both ways,” he said, “committing Graniterock to its last, best and final offer, while attempting to use the employees’ strike to get Graniterock to give the union a ‘free pass’ on past wrongful conduct.”

The jury trial began on Tuesday, April 24, 2007, and involved more than thirty witnesses. The jury rendered its decision after seven hours of deliberation.

The jury decision concurs with a decision by the National Labor Relations Board issued in May 2006 that the Teamsters Union committed an unfair labor practice by insisting on a waiver of past wrongdoing when all terms and conditions of a new contract had been reached. In a unanimous decision, the NLRB held that the effective date of the contract had to be applied retroactively to the date on which agreement was reached on the new contract. The Union has appealed the NLRB decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the NLRB has filed papers to uphold the decision.

In newspaper reports in July 2004, the Teamsters Union maintained that no agreement had been reached and in fact that there had never been a vote of its members. Evidence was presented at trial that supported Graniterock’s contentions that the Union had changed its focus from getting its members back to work during the negotiations to using its members in an extended strike to try to force the Company to drop previously filed monetary claims against the Union.

Both the NLRB and federal court decisions have concluded that the terms of the contract were enforceable between Graniterock and the Teamsters’ Union as of July 2, 2004.

This includes the promise not to strike contained in the new contract. The decisions clearly affirm that the long strike of 2004 should have ended on July 2. The strike did not end at that time and eventually forced more than 400 Graniterock people to lose work and wages.

In upcoming legal action, the Company is seeking payment of damages by the Union for harm inflicted on its own members, who are Graniterock employees, and the Company. In addition to all the traditional damages sought against a union for an illegal strike, the Company has also claimed that this should cover back pay for employees who could not work because of the strike.

“The unlawful actions of Teamsters Local 287 are contributing to a growing view that the union movement must change. Undemocratic behavior and a style of self-serving justice are a form of arrogance that has no place in today’s globally competitive world. The federal jury and NLRB decisions are clear evidence that the Union did not act in accordance with its members’ wishes or best interests,” said Bruce Woolpert, President and CEO of Graniterock. “Unions are increasingly being sued by employers today and members are left covering the damage and legal costs of decisions by union officials who seem to escape close scrutiny of their actions by members,” he continued. “We learned in discovery that in recent years, Teamsters Locals in Santa Clara and Monterey Counties resolved lawsuits by borrowing money from the International, and using member dues to pay principal and interest,” said Woolpert. “Unfortunately, the pattern seems to be that Union officials are not required to pay for their own mistakes, but instead bill their members,” concluded Garry Mathiason of Litter Mendelson, another attorney who represented Graniterock.

“Justice was served,” said Tom Treanor, a Graniterock employee affected by the strike, in reference to the jury’s verdict. “In 2004, I was unable to do my normal maintenance management responsibilities since it was necessary to run equipment at the Quarry to support customer needs and continue business operations. I know many people at our Wilson Quarry were deeply hurt by this strike, and I felt horrible about their being forced from work by their own union. It was a great day when they came back to work. The jury decision helps to put the matter behind us all.”

About Graniterock: Graniterock was founded on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1900. Graniterock People have proudly lived in and served the communities of Watsonville, Cupertino, Santa Cruz, Seaside, Salinas, Hollister, Aromas, Felton, San Jose, Redwood City, Oakland, Turlock, and South San Francisco with high-quality products and services for over 107 years. In 1998, when Graniterock’s name first appeared onFortune magazine’s ranking of the “100 Best Companies to Work for in America,” the Company was thrilled that its workplace practices had placed it among such leaders as Marriott Hotels, Microsoft, J. M. Smucker, and Nordstrom. Graniterock is only one of thirty-seven companies to have appeared on that initial 1998 list that remains on the “Best Companies” ranking today—nine years later. In 2006 Graniterock was again selected for national recognition, making the list of “Best Workplaces” by the Society of Human Resource Management. Graniterock received the 1992 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the 1994 Governor’s Golden State Quality Award.

There are over 800 Graniterock Team Members working in heavy engineering construction, construction materials production including mining, and in manufacturing plants producing ready-mix concrete and hot mix asphalt, as well as operating retail landscaping supply stores and design centers.

For more information, contact:
Bruce Woolpert, Graniterock, 831.768.2001
Alan Levins, Littler Mendelson, 415.677.2156
Garry Mathiason, Littler Mendelson, 415.677.3146