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Gates & Sons Can't Cut Benefits After Strike, National Labor Relations Board Says

Brandon Burke

A three-member panel of the National Labor Relations Board says Kansas City-based Gates & Sons Barbeque engaged in an unfair labor practice after workers participated in strike last summer.

According to the complaint, which was filed by the Workers' Organizing Committee on the employees' behalf, about a quarter of the Main Street restaurant's workforce informed their supervisor they planned to strike on July 30, 2013, and return to work the next day. The strike was part of an organized effort among Kansas City fast-food workers to ask for higher wages.

Though the employees were eventually allowed to return to work, the restaurant announced it would no longer offer employees a free meal during their shift. The panel agreed with an administrative law judge's earlier decision that the free meals were discontinued because the employees went on strike.

Gates claimed that the decision to discontinue free employee meals had been made at a management meeting weeks before the strike, partly because of customer complaints. But the administrative law judgeruled that Gates had not produced any evidence to document that claim.

The panel has ordered Gates & Sons Barbeque to reinstate the employee meal benefit at the Main Street location. The restaurant also will have to post a notice reminding workers they have the right to unionize.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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