**Chicago, IL (May 30, 2007)** – After multiple attempts by United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Locals 881 and 1546 lawyers to block a decertification election, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 13 ruled that over 300 employees of Treasure Island Foods, Inc. at six local stores have a right to vote on whether to oust the unwanted union.
Treasure Island employees originally filed for a union decertification election in 2004, after UFCW officials ordered an unpopular boycott and fell out of favor with the vast majority of employees. Even though the employees’ petition was timely filed, UFCW Local 881 and 1546 officials thwarted it by filing a series of “blocking charges” at the NLRB against Treasure Island Foods for allegedly encouraging employee dissatisfaction with the union.
In 2005, after obtaining signatures from an overwhelming majority of employees at the grocery chain, Dan Schalin and his coworkers filed another decertification election petition at the NLRB. Threatened by the independent-minded employees’ petition, UFCW union officials continued to file multiple unfair labor practice charges against Treasure Island to block the election. UFCW union officials alleged that Treasure Island illegally sent letters to its employees encouraging them to file the petition, but an administrative law judge rejected that claim.
Finally, with help from attorneys at the National Right to Work Foundation, Schalin and his coworkers requested that the petition for decertification be reinstated. Late last week, the NLRB Regional Director ruled in favor of their request, stating that Treasure Islands’ written letters never tainted the employees’ showing of interest in the petition.
“UFCW officials have thrown up every stumbling block possible over three years to block Treasure Island employees from exercising their free choice,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The hostility of the union hierarchy to workers’ interests shows why Illinois needs a Right to Work law that would make union affiliation and dues payment strictly voluntary.”
A decertification election, an NLRB-supervised secret ballot election to oust a union, is generally an uphill battle for workers to obtain, particularly because union lawyers are adept at gumming up the works by filing baseless charges that often block an election for years. Under the National Labor Relations Act, a decertification election gives employees the opportunity to cast a vote to remove the union as the “exclusive bargaining representative” in a workplace, but one can only be sought during narrowly proscribed periods every few years. If the Treasure Island employees vote to revoke the unwanted UFCW union’s “certification,” employees at all six stores in the Chicago area will become nonunion and free to negotiate over their own wages and working conditions.