The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled against Wackenhut in a case involving security workers who sought to organize a union at the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, DC. Wackenhut, the U.S. government's largest supplier of private guards, is the U.S. subsidiary of London-based global security conglomerate Group 4 Securicor.
The NLRB upheld an administrative law judge's finding that Wackenhut illegally intimidated and interrogated security officers Anderson Carter and Terry Purnell, who were leading an effort to encourage their co-workers to become members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In the organizing drive a solid majority of Wackenhut officers signed cards expressing their desire to join SEIU, the nation's largest security union. Wackenhut fired both Carter and Purnell after a majority of workers at the site signed union cards indicating their support for unionizing.
"I never doubted standing up was the right thing to do," said Terry Purnell, a veteran security officer who had been at his IMF post for only 12 months. "I think Wackenhut's claims that it respects the right of workers to organize unions in the U.S. are ridiculous and now this decision proves that."
According to the NLRB ruling, Wackenhut violated workers rights by:
* Telling employees that the International Monetary Fund contract prohibited unions
* Threatening employees with the loss of their jobs if they unionized
* Creating the impression of surveillance of employees' union activities
* Telling employees they should transfer to another worksite if they want to continue their union activity
* Interrogating employees about their union activities
Wackenhut's actions caused a public uproar, particularly given the profile of the IMF. U.S. Congressman George Miller, who now chairs the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, intervened and encouraged the IMF to act.
Wackenhut soon lost the contract to provide security services at the organization. The contract was worth an estimated $4.4 million annually.