Friday, April 26, 2013

Chartwells intimidates its workers as they try to unionize

This letter was sent by Chartwells to all its "associates" at the University of Miami:


As we stated in our April 17, 2013 letter to you, Chartwells asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to allow each of our associates to vote if they wanted the Union, SEIU, Local 32BJ or not. We respect your right to choose for yourself! The Union challenged this request and because they challenged it, you will NOT  have an opportunity to vote if you do not want the Union to represent you or if you do want the union to represent you.  
Because they took your legal right to choose and vote away, there will be a Card Check on Friday, May 3, 2013.  
  • The Union and those who want the Union may visit your home or contact you at work within the week and try to convince you to sign a paper and put your personal information on that paper.  
  • What is that paper? -- That paper is called Union Authorization Card. If you sign that card, then you are saying that you want to be in the Union. If you do not sign the card, then you are saying you DO NOT want the Union. 
  • If the Union gets the majority of those cards signed by our associates, then that is all they need to win. If they win, then you will be forced to be represented by the union. 
Please make sure that you make an informed decision and if you DO NOT want to be in the Union, then you Do Not need to sign any document or authorization card.

Dear readers of Picketline, there is a well-worn name for what Chartwells is doing with this letter, and that name is "union busting." Chartwells is not disclosing to the workers that the NLRB threw out Chartwells' request for an election (as we have pointed out many times, for instance here, NLRB elections are not to the workers' advantage, but rather to the advantage of the employer) because the union pointed out to the NLRB that Chartwells was guily of several unfair, union-busting labor practices, such as intimidating workers and forbidding them from wearing pro-union buttons -- a practice protected by the First Amendment.

While Chartwells says that "they took your legal right to choose and vote away," what it is omitting is that an NLRB election would have taken years, during which years Chartwells would have had all the opportunities in the world to harass the workers, fire them, and of course subject them to false and intimidating letters just like this one. In fact, card check is precisely a "legal right to choose and vote," used all the time, and recognized by the NLRB itself.

During the days leading up to the card count and on the day itself, both the union and Chartwells will have access to the workers. This means that Chartwells, again, lies when implying that only the union will try to contact workers. Just think: these workers live all over Miami: is it easier for our fearsome union organizers to drive all over town and catch them when they are not on shift, or for Chartwells to indoctrinate them while they are all conveniently congregated in its facilities?

The union has absolutely no interest in collecting personal information about the workers. Chartwells, for which these workers have worked for many years, probably has more information than anyone else but the workers themselves.

Being forced to be represented by a union means only being forced to accept higher wages and better benefits. Florida is a right to work state. This means that all workers who don't vote for the union won't even need to pay union dues, but will still get the higher wages and benefits that the union bargains for.  


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