United Water is an American water utility and a wholly-owned subsidiary of French MNE Suez Environment. The complaint alleges environmental and labour violations by United Water.
During 2010, the United States National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued five separate complaints charging that United Water has engaged in unfair labour practices during negotiations with the UWUA in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. The complaints charge that management has engaged in bad faith negotiations and has retaliated against workers for their union activities by withholding scheduled bonus payments.
One of the complaints issued by the NLRB in Pennsylvania in October charges that United Water President Robert Iacullo engaged in illegal conduct by distributing correspondence to employees undermining the unions status as the workers bargaining representative.
Furthermore, in December 2010, a federal grand jury issued a criminal indictment charging that United Water intentionally manipulated E. coli bacteria monitoring tests at a wastewater treatment plant in Gary, Indiana, between 2003 and 2008. The company has pleaded not guilty.
The indictment alleges that United Water manipulated the monitoring results as part of a scheme to reduce its costs for purchasing chlorine, which is used as a disinfectant before the plant discharges treated sewage into a public waterway near Chicago. United Waters president has publicly dismissed the seriousness of the charges, claiming the indictment involves disagreement about operating and monitoring methods.” In August 2011, the federal court denied United Waters motion to dismiss the indictment.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Version 2000 Chapter I
- Version 2000 Chapter I Paragraph I.2
- Version 2000 Chapter V
- Version 2000 Chapter V Paragraph V.1 Subparagraph V.1.B
- Version 2000 Chapter V Paragraph V.8
- Version 2000 Chapter VI
- Version 2000 Chapter VI Paragraph VI.1
- Version 2000 Chapter VI Paragraph VI.2
The US NCP held a meeting with the company to get its position on the issues raised in the complaint. The complainants also provided additional information as requested by the NCP. Given that United Water is a subsidiary of the French Suez Environment, UWUA requested that the French NCP get involved and engage the companys French management. French NCP declined to do so.
In February 2012, UWUA and United Water resolved the NLRB complaints that formed the basis of the Guidelines case. UWUA also resolved its collective bargaining disputes with the company in six locations, on very favorable terms for workers. According to UWUA, this success was as a direct result of the comprehensive campaign against the company. As a result of the settlement, UWUA withdrew its complaint with the NCP.
FWW decided not to continue the specific instance process but did not wish to withdraw its filing. Given the union and civil society organization’s positions, the NCP concluded the specific instance and issued a final statement, which was not made public.