Chicago, IL (July 3, 2007) – Late yesterday, Treasure Island Foods employees successfully voted by over a 2-to-1 margin to kick the unwanted United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union out of all six area stores. The employees received free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation in overcoming three years of legal challenges by UFCW union lawyers to obtain the “decertification” vote, which was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The final tally in the election was 189 employees against the union, 91 in favor, with five votes being contested. As a result of the election, over 300 employees at all six Treasure Island Foods stores in the Chicago area will become nonunion and free to negotiate over their own wages and working conditions.
Treasure Island employees originally filed for the 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 stonewalled the vote by filing a series of “blocking charges” at the NLRB.
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 abuse the legal process by filing further unfounded blocking charges.
Finally, with help from attorneys at the National Right to Work Foundation, Schalin and his coworkers requested that the petition for decertification be reinstated. In late May, the NLRB Regional Director ruled in favor of their request and scheduled the election.
“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 an uphill battle for workers to obtain or win. In particular, union lawyers are adept at gumming up the works by filing baseless charges that often block an election for years. Employees can only obtain such elections during narrowly proscribed periods every few years, and incumbent union hierarchies often retaliate against dissenting employees.