News Releases

Release: NLRB Shuts Down SC Trucking Company

The morning of November 22, 2013, Newberry, S.C. business owner Alton Piester received a frantic call from one of his customers—a local farmer. The farmer had received a notice from the National Labor Relations Board that the Board was seizing all amounts owed to Mr. Piester to satisfy a judgment…

The morning of November 22, 2013, Newberry, S.C. business owner Alton Piester received a frantic call from one of his customers—a local farmer. The farmer had received a notice from the National Labor Relations Board that the Board was seizing all amounts owed to Mr. Piester to satisfy a judgment against Mr. Piester’s small trucking company. This action is the last act of a dispute between the Board and Mr. Piester that has been going on since 2007. It appears that the Board will finally succeed in its six year effort to shut down Piester Trucking.

Piester trucking is a small farm-based trucking company. It employs five drivers, a mechanic and two office personnel. Mr. Piester is the President, the sixth truck driver, part time mechanic, and financer of the company. Since the dramatic rise in fuel prices in 2007, the company has barely stayed afloat. It has frequently teetered on the edge of bankruptcy and has had to frequently rely on the kindness of its vendors to stay in business. Mr. Piester pays himself less than minimum wage so he can keep the company going.

The current sad tale began in 2007 and had its roots in the dramatic rise in fuel prices that happened about that time. Because of those increases, Mr. Piester had to adjust his drivers’ commission schedule. Some of the drivers were not happy. Driver Darrel Chapman, in particular, would not let the matter rest. In April 2007, he went into Mr. Piester’s small office and began complaining loudly about how the commission change showed on his paycheck. At length, Mr. Piester tried to explain the situation to Chapman. Chapman, however, became angry and began yelling. When the company bookkeeper came into the office and argued with Chapman, he became irate and rose from his chair and took a step toward her. At that point, Mr. Piester fired Chapman and ordered him off the premises. Chapman refused to leave and Newberry Sherriff’s deputies had to come to escort him out.

Mr. Piester soon heard from the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency he had never heard of. The Board claimed that Piester had illegally fired Chapman for protesting wages and conditions of employment. Piester repeatedly tried to explain that was not true. Ultimately, Piester won his case at trial. The federal administrative judge found that Piester had not violated any labor laws. The judge also specifically found that Chapman was “not credible.” However, the same Board that charged Piester with violating the law, also reviews judge’s decisions. The Board is not required to give the judge any deference. The Board reversed the judge and held that Piester had to pay nearly $100,000.00 to the Board. Piester fought on and appealed twice to the federal courts of appeals. However, those courts are required by law to defer to the Board’s judgment and twice ruled to uphold the Board. Piester exhausted his appeals in November 2012.

At times, Piester attempted to negotiate with the Board for a payment plan. He also offered to rehire Chapman. Chapman refused. The Board, despite saying it would not attempt to bankrupt the company, never offered Piester any terms. Piester gave the Board his financial documents, and tax returns, and offered to let them talk to his CPA. The Board was not satisfied with the information. After losing his final appeal last year, Piester heard nothing from the Board until November 22, 2013 when he heard from the farmer. Without any notice to Piester, or his attorney Charles Thompson, the Board and local United States Attorneys, had been secretly researching Piesters business. Again, without informing Piester or his attorney, the Board obtained orders from the United States district court requiring Piester’s customers to pay the Board any amounts they owed Piester directly to the Board. The Board waited until later that same day (a Friday) to notify Piester what it ha d done.

Mr. Piester asserts that the company has no way to keep operating if his customers’ payments are diverted to the Board. Because of its poor financial condition, the company has no cash reserve or ability to borrow money. Mr. Piester states that the company will be unable to continue in a matter of days.

According to Mr. Thompson, the secret seizure without notice was illegal. He further argues that, according to recent federal court decisions, the Board was operating without jurisdiction because it did not have the proper number of Board Members and the administration improperly appointed some Board members.

At Mr. Thompson’s request, federal Judge Mary Geiger Lewis reviewed the Board’s actions today (November 25, 2103) and determined that the law provided for secret seizure and that there was nothing she could to stop the collection.

(Editor’s Note: The above communication is a news release from an attorney and does not necessarily reflect the editorial position of To submit your letter, news release, email blast, media advisory or issues statement for publication, click here).

Related posts


New Center To Help Victims of Abuse, Domestic Violence And Sexual Assault Opens In Colleton County

More News

SCDP Issues Statement On Ramon Schwartz

More News

Jeff Duncan: Senate Correct To Cancel Recess



Nobody Special November 25, 2013 at 3:58 pm

It’s always good to have money outside the banking system for times like those described above as well as a separate unregistered LLC that you can quickly register and fire up, with a very similar name, so that you are not subject to the unreasonableness of both individuals and government.

The above is a tough way to learn that lesson.

Manray November 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm

“The above communication is a news release from an attorney…” That pretty much says it all.

matt November 25, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Is Lee “not so” Bright going to claim this is what happened to his mismanaged company?

sweepin November 25, 2013 at 6:26 pm

I know Lee “not so” Bright, too. I can’t offer the same compliments and support for him as I did Alton Piester earlier this evening.

In fact, Lee is the antithesis of Alton Piester especially when comparing integrity, reliability, and personal honor.

Vanguard16 November 25, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Chalk one up for the working man!!

idcydm November 25, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Sounds like there will be some working men not working.

Roberto November 25, 2013 at 8:26 pm

What working man?

johnq November 26, 2013 at 6:40 am

Guy tried to cheat his employees and got his ass handed to him. He needs to be out of business.

I’m sure he pays himself less than minimum wage but I imagine his house and car will not be the kind most minimum wage employees own.

Good riddance!!

sweepin November 26, 2013 at 7:18 am

Actually, both are very, very modest. No one is going to get rich while trying to earn a living and paying off old farm debt from earnings gained hauling commodity type payloads including grain, fertilizer materials, sand, and/or other aggregates particularly with just 6 trucks.

You’re a bit off base here even if unintended.

SCDEW November 26, 2013 at 4:19 pm

He’s unemployed and bitter. Pay him no mind. All business owners are evil to him because he’s unemployable.

He’s the perfect poster child to lead a communist revolution or beer hall putsch.

nitrat November 25, 2013 at 4:40 pm

If I were Mr. Piester or his attorney, I would have contacted my US House representative and senators a long time ago.

Smirks November 25, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Maybe they already have.

No reality necessary November 25, 2013 at 7:59 pm

I’m sure that will be effective.

jimlewisowb November 25, 2013 at 5:14 pm

I am sure there are two sides to this story.

No doubt Cockroach Bill Nettles and his staff of little cockroaches did everything by the book and are to be commended for putting a nasty criminal like Mr. Piester and his 8 employees out on the street right before Thanksgiving

In fact I think I will do the commendation myself

To: Cockroach Bill Nettles, all the little cockroaches who work for him and to the bigger NLRB cockroach sons of bitches

I hereby commend you to eternal hell and damnation from this day forward

jimlewis, old white bastard

jim3k November 26, 2013 at 1:08 am

What does the South Carolina US Attorney’s office (Nettles) have to do with this? The NLRB (and its Atlanta Region) doesn’t rely on US Attorneys for anything. I’m afraid your ignorance is showing.

sweepin November 26, 2013 at 5:50 am

Perhaps yours is showing, too, or perhaps, inattention to detail is showing (worse). After all, you are the one who referenced NLRB Atlanta venue.

Region Assigned: Region 11, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

jim3k November 26, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Region 11 has been absorbed by Atlanta in a recent reorganization.

sweepin November 26, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Are you the effwad that prosecuted the case or do you sit on the appeals board? You seem a bit less than disinterested and a bit more than unbiased.

Oh, and you, effwad, presented the detail. Why didn’t you make the distinction in venue since you knew it to be a recent event?

jim3k November 26, 2013 at 9:39 pm

No. I have no connection to the case at all and never have. I would be considered a Board expert, having worked in the field for 45 years. I am now retired, though, but keep up with interesting disputes.

As for mentioning the regional office reorganization, I simply thought most people would have been aware of it. The Board’s website map covers it. The reorganization was in the news and has been in effect since January.

BTW, is there a reason for you to be rude and calling names in this discussion? I certainly have not been civil. Why not you?

Differences of opinion or factual mistakes are no reason to be calling names. But, I’m a big boy and can take it. Are you a big boy who can speak on issues like an adult? I bet you are.

sweepin November 26, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Let’s both be big boys. Why would you presume that those in this forum would know (or have reason to care about a recent reorganization of a Federal agency/board?). You, sir, would be the exception in this forum, an expert in labor law, not I, and not most others that post here.

It seems to me and I bet, most, that your presumption is at best misguided, or at least somewhat ill-considered.

This is not a committee of the ABA.

jim3k November 26, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Very good. Now, go downthread to the link and read the Board’s first decision (as well as the reversed decision of the first ALJ), and tell us why you think the Board’s decision is indefensible. And also, if you can, explain why Piester’s lawyer is trying to backfill his mistake by issuing this press release, blaming the NLRB instead of either Piester or himself. (Or keeping his mouth shut.)

If Piester was operating on such a thin margin as you say, why does any lawyer recommend litigation over settlement? Getting him out as cheaply as he can seems to be the wise choice. If Piester had cut off the backpay period (by offering the employee reinstatement) as quickly as the complaint was issued, backpay could have been extremely light, way lighter than the $77 grand found in the compliance case.

If I were Piester, and the lawyer advised litigation, I’d at least be consulting a legal malpractice lawyer.

sweepin November 26, 2013 at 11:27 pm

I’m not a lawyer. Like most, my lawyer is the finest guy in America. Also, like most, my adversarys’ lawyer is the biggest SOB in America (not really, in most of my adversarial proceedings I, and they, have enjoyed mutual and reciprocal respect; in some cases we became social if not personal friends).

I don’t know or know of the attorney of record. My advice to Alton would be as yours.

My observation is that Alton was in way over his head and ill-served by counsel.

sweepin November 26, 2013 at 11:39 pm

By the way, I read the case and the proceedings in their entirety. I keep an account on the Federal Court proceedings.


jimlewisowb November 26, 2013 at 8:13 am

Always nice to wake up and find some fuck face has pissed on your leg

Sometimes one can only work with what they are given. Post stated local “United States Attorneys” and the only “local” ones I know of are Cockroach Nettles and his little cockroaches

As for you being afraid of my ignorance who give’s a rat’s ass

idcydm November 26, 2013 at 5:54 pm

After reviewing the jim3k profile, nothing but an NLRB troll.

chuck November 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm

They get involved in collection because collection is done by the local U.S. District Court.

jim3k November 26, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Wrong. The NLRB does not use the district court for its enforcement orders and uses its own enforcement attorneys. It uses the appellate courts’ contempt powers.

chuck November 26, 2013 at 8:44 pm

They can bring a contempt proceeding in the appellate court. And you are right. This is what they usually do. Here’s an unusual situation. Piester can show inability to pay to the appellate court. The NLRB is usually dealing with companies that can pay and are just refusing to. So a proceeding under the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (in District Court) is a better option. They can seize accounts secretly with no prior notice. Hence the local U.S. Attorney gets involved. That’s why the S.C. U.S. Attorney is lead attorney on this case. Check the pleadings for yourself.

jim3k November 26, 2013 at 9:21 pm

In over 45 years of dealing with the Board, I’ve never seen them use the Federal Debt Collection Act. Maybe they should have done so before, but this seems rare. I don’t have access to the pleadings, Chuck, but if you do, feel free to link them.

chuck November 26, 2013 at 10:50 pm

LOL. I could probably now guess who you are then if I put my mind to it. I practice in this field too but rarely Board proceedings any more and my experience is far less than yours. I would have expected the contempt proceeding. Maybe the FDCPA is a brand new tactic? It seems pretty effective given the element of surprise it provides. I’ll see what I can do tomorrow on providing a link.

Salty Doggerel November 25, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Poor Alton Piester,
Whom the gubmint has kicked in the keester.
Send big bucks to me,
Says the NLRB
Or we will audit your seester.

Bless Alton Piester;
The gubmint finally released her.
But it’s just Alton’s luck
They will garnish his truck,
Returning it only next Easter.

sweepin November 25, 2013 at 6:13 pm

I’ve known Alton Piester for more than 25 years. He has provided services to at least two of my companies in the past (actually, I think three of them), though not in the last 10-12 years. I get quite a bit of satisfaction when I see his trucks while traveling on the interstates, primarily I-26 since I’m on it several times each week.

Alton is an honorable man and of great dependability as a provider of transportation services. I know many others that would make the same claim. Although unaware of his current predicament, I will tell you that it would take a pretty difficult person not to reach an accommodation with Alton Piester, up to and including a federal agency.

Alton’s trucking company was born of the Agriculural crisis of the mid 1980’s when he established it in order keep his head above water as his farming enterprise was struggling like most others. Like many farmers, he was forced to switch gears in an effort to stay afloat. He started with one truck and one driver, himself. He later added others as his favorable reputation grew.

I admire those who face adversity and difficulty with their heads high and their pride intact. Alton Piester is no exception.

I hope that Alton will be able to overcome his current travails.

CorruptionInColumbia November 25, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Government; how ever did the wheels of our country function before it managed to insert itself into every facet of our daily lives, often denying us due process as it did so?

Will Rogers November 25, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Government creating jobs once again, for those who can work for government of course. The parasites will pick the carcass of private industry clean until we have a national Detroit.

union4ever November 25, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Another victory for the nlrb…5 more unemployed Americans!

Jesus H. Christ! November 25, 2013 at 9:32 pm

This sucks, if true.

dwb619 November 25, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Well, this SUCKS!
However, I am taken aback by the statement, “a federal agency he has never heard of.”

jim3k November 26, 2013 at 12:17 am

This is pretty simple. The company lawyer is obfuscating. At this end stage, it’s nothing more than a collections case . The NLRB got a judgment against Piester for unlawfully firing the employee and it refused to pay. So the NLRB has begun seizing assets to satisfy the judgment. Pretty routine. And all of this happened after normal, and fair, NLRB legal proceedings. Win some, lose some. Piester could probably have settled before trial for half what he lost by litigation. Based on this lawyer’s press release, it seems to me that he did not serve his client well. If the lawyer is feeling bad, maybe he should forgive his fee. It’s always cheaper to settle, but this guy took his client down the litigation road to his detriment.

jim3k November 26, 2013 at 1:20 am

If anyone wants to take the time to actually learn about the NLRB’s case, here’s the link to the NLRB case docket.

It contains links to both the ALJ decision and the Board’s decision. It also notes that the case went to the Circuit Court of Appeals, but Piester defaulted and the court issued judgment against the company.

Hard to have much sympathy. The default means that Piester gave up.

sweepin November 26, 2013 at 6:09 am

Knowing a bit about the trucking business (I operated 4 rigs as an in-house enterprise within one of my companies) I would suggest that Alton, rather than “gave up,” simply made a good business decision that the judgment of $72K plus interest was “a bridge too far.”

I consider it highly unlikely that the company’s net assets are/were worth the amount of judgment. It is plausible that Alton made the correct decision and perhaps the NLRB and the Plaintiff made a bad decision in not settling. Let them handle the liquidation at their expense, not his. If the NLRB is seizing A/R’s, then I can only imagine they are coming up way short in gaining liquid assets. In fact, I must tell you I doubt greatly there are any significant liquid assets and his A/R’s would be minimal…..freight bills like his are most often paid on presentation of invoice which I bet occurs with great frequency in his operation….one week or less, usually when the next load is picked up for transport. Drivers are paid weekly and fuel bills are on short terms.

The judgment is against the company it appears and not Alton, personally.

Alton can start over. I’m not sure the Plaintiffs can squeeze blood out of a turnip.

jim3k November 26, 2013 at 7:51 pm

The contempt/collections procedure may or may not end with the company and its limited liability. Depends on how well Piester kept company finances separate from his personal finances. The company’s backpay liability is only $77,000 plus interest.

He needed to settle the case before it went to trial before the first ALJ. I’m betting he could have settled for half that at that stage. Why did this lawyer let him fall into the quagmire?

sweepin November 26, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Let me make this clearer. If Piester employed two clerical employees and a mechanic for a fleet of 5 trucks with him as the 6th stand in driver, there ain’t any net worth to the company because there ain’t been any profit of noteworthiness. I was born at night, but not last night.

My 40 years of experience in business with exposure to both trucking and farming as minority parts of my enterprises gives me an insight to his operation that others, not the least of whom would be you, don’t have.

I’m betting the corporate shield is intact. Nothing in the testimony suggested to me any contempt and a default is simply a default. It is not contemptuous insofar as what you have referenced with your exhibits posted prior.

jim3k November 26, 2013 at 10:19 pm

A refusal to comply with a court order is de facto contemptuous.

sweepin November 26, 2013 at 10:32 pm

To the point of attempting to penetrate the shield of incorporation? Even if technically and legally correct, is it practically imposed?

Both the plaintiff and the NLRB have been just as difficult as Piester. By the way, I agree with one of your first comments; Piester’s attorney is doing the classic CYA, bullshit rationalization for the benefit of himself, mainly, and that of his firm, secondarily, and tertiarially, Alton Piester.

For the record, I’ve not spoken to Alton in at least 10 years. He hauled for me as a “spillover” transporter as did 4 other independent truckers who were loaded on an almost daily basis. My four trucks were used everyday. When excess freight was needed (and it was considerable) I utilized Alton. When he was in my markets and empty, he could usually count on a back-haul into another market, if not Newberry.

And thanks for your goodwill gesture in the matter of civility. I was out of line.

jim3k November 26, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Apology accepted.

A refusal to comply is not the same as an inability to comply. The former is contemptuous, the latter not.

Before any finding of contempt, there would be a hearing of some sort before the court where issues of refusal or inability would be presented. So would issues of piercing the corporate veil.

chuck November 26, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Piester won the first trial. Case no. 11-CA-21531. Its in the decision dated 9/30/2008 on the sixth page. For some reason, that decision isn’t listed in jim3k’s link. Everything you guys are looking at came from the damages phase.

jim3k November 26, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Here is the Board’s link to the underlying liability case.

The first portion is the Board’s decision reversing the ALJ. The second part is the ALJ’s initial decision (rendered orally) in favor of Piester.

There is no second trial. The Board only reviews ALJ decisions; they are not re-heard ab initio. It only serves as an appellate body.

As noted, the case is now in the compliance stage. Debt collection.

ELCID November 26, 2013 at 11:40 am

Simple Solution> Sell off the company assets.
Then open up the next day under a new name.
Problem solved.

jurisdoc November 26, 2013 at 11:52 am

That’s a bullshit release from an attorney. I went and read the actual orders, etc. The only argument they put up is “we don’t owe him that much because we wouldn’t have rehired him anyway.” Doesn’t appear they ever fought the ruling as to the improper firing. Dumb ass lawyer probably billed him $25K over the last few years and is having a hard time explaining to his client that “Hey, guess we were wrong all along.” Guess he just wants to make the NLRB a boogeyman to cover up his own ineptness.

And they don’t just come and take your stuff. They’ve got a dang judgment, and to get to that point, you’ve been told you are wrong numerous times.

chuck November 26, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Your wrong. Look for the decision dated 9/30/2008 which has the trial judge’s decision included beginning on the sixth page. The trial judge ruled in favor of Piester and even found Chapman “not credible.” The NLRB gets to decide the appeal, it reversed, and the federal courts are required to defer to the NLRB’s judgment. You are reading from the later decision setting the amount of damages.

jim3k November 26, 2013 at 9:51 pm

See the link I inserted above.

The fact that the ALJ found in Piester’s favor is perhaps comforting, but not the final word before the Board. An ALJ decision is only a recommendation. If the ALJ has misanalysed the facts or applied the law wrongly, he or she is likely to be reversed. That seems to have happened here. You can read both for yourself in the above link

chuck November 26, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Update: New Order in the case by the District Court. Some of the assets are released so the company can meet payroll and some expenses and appears a settlement has been reached but not yet finalized. No details provided on the settlement.

I can’t do a link as you have to have access to the court records to see it.

sweepin November 26, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Good to hear, chuck. Keep us updated as the case developes. .


Leave a Comment