Union Wins Against Nevada Gold Mines in Unlawful Conduct Dispute

The world’s largest gold mining complex; the Nevada Gold Mines, was formed in 2019 as a joint venture between Barrick and Newmont. The mining entities stated that they expected the business combination to generate $500 million in savings every year within the first 5 years.

Newmont is the world’s biggest gold miner and owns 38.5% of NGM and Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE: GOLD) (TSX: ABX), who is the world’s 2nd largest gold miner, owns the remaining 61.5% and operates the business.

In the first 12 months of its operation, NGM showed a strong performance despite a dispute with its union. The union that represented employees filed an unfair labor practice complaint after NGM withdrew recognition of the union in December of last year. This union has represented employees from Newmont for more than half a century, Operating Engineers Local 3 filed the complaint with NLRB (National Labor Relations Board), which is a federal agency

House Counsel, Gening Liao told reporters that NGM withdrew recognition, which left bargaining unit employees with no protection under their collective bargaining agreements and no union representation. Liao stated that in the first few months of operation, Nevada Gold Mines had a good working relationship with the union. Previously, the union had been assured that the collective bargaining agreements would continue to be recognized.

Liao says that when NGM withdrew recognition officially, the employees received letters that stated that their employment was at will. This was contrary to the protections outlined under the collective bargaining agreement.

Earlier in June, the National Labor Relations Board claimed in court documents that NGM had taken part in unlawful conduct by failing to recognize the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 3.

Through the usual administrative process, getting a remedy can take anywhere between 2 to 3 years for a final decision to be made by NLRB. It seems the parties opted to settle out of court because days before oral arguments began, settlement talks had been initiated. Nevada Gold Mines settled after NLRB ascertained that the harm from withdrawn recognition was irreparable and the other party was preparing to go to court to seek an injunction.

On December 23, 2019, recognition was withdrawn and on August 6, 2020 it was reinstated. Liao notes that during the time frame that the company had withdrawn recognition, several people lost their jobs, changes were made to employee benefits and pension contributions were lost. While people were still paid out, the benefits that many had relied on had changed overnight.

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