Monday, April 29, 2013

Live tweeting Chartwells dirty tricks: Monday 4/29

Note: The names of vulnerable individuals and of police and Chartwells management have been withheld. 

8:59 am   UC 245 is occupied by 3 faculty members and 4 workers. The room has been booked all day.

9:11 am  From Daniel Messinger: "Police outside not letting us in."

9:50 am  From Daniel Messinger: "A gentleman in a suit asked us leave room 245. We had arrived before anyone else. [Chartwells] set up with orange juice and water, and called UM police. Officers ___ and ____ arrived and asked us to leave. We chatted in the hallway. I was able to hear some of what the speaker said through the door. The most interesting thing I heard was “and if you did not sign a card and the Union wins, you do not have to pay dues.”

10:08 am  Campus police issues several faculty members a verbal trespass warning; says to faculty that the next time it will be a written trespass warning and the time after that it will be jail.

From Daniel Messinger: "Chartwells was in and out a fair amount messing with AV stuff. I think the format was Chartwells talked. Mostly someone who identified as management. Mr. ____ is I think the main Chartwells rep. The officers left with a verbal assurance that we would not re-enter the room. Mr. ____ left the room. Someone had their camera out. Mr. ____ called UM security indicating that we were taking pictures of people as they left the room. No one except for Mr. ____ had left the room. We left so as not to give any false impressions. The first meeting has adjourned, I believe. My guess is 15 or so people were in the room, maybe 1/3 management, maybe more."

12:27 pm  From Simon Evnine: "Merike Bloomfield, Mari Williams, Frank Palmeri, Jennifer Hill, and I went up to the door of UC245. On the way, we encountered John Murphy, Daniel Messinger, and _____, who had been there at 9. Daniel and John had been given a trespass warning and told they would be arrested next time (not clear why or what for). ______ took a pic of the Chartwells manager who immediately called the police about it. ______ left (not wanting to be arrested). When Frank, Merike, etc and I were outside 245, there were various workers arriving and several management types. At some point, the door opened and Jennifer... immediately inserted herself and started introducing herself, asking for people's names, writing everything down; I asked if we could attend the meeting. We were told no. At some point, management types stopped even responding to questions like "I'm sorry, I didn't get your name". They were rather rude. The workers went in; the door was closed, and after a bit of chatter, the meeting began."

From Simon Evnine: "When we were initially gathering, we saw a management person call; obviously they were calling the police. After about 20 mins, three police showed up. They said they had got a call saying we were intimidating workers. We talked with them a bit (Do we look intimidating? Who called you? Shouldn't you go into the meeting and ask the people in there? If you say you don't know who called, how do you know who's in that meeting?). They insisted on taking everyone's name, checked that we were faculty (they wanted ID) and eventually just left. They didn't warn us, and they didn't object to our taking photos (both of which had occurred with Daniel, John, and _____). After that, it was all quiet until the meeting ended; we cheerily and unintimidatingly wished the workers (and anyone else) a good day."

"Jennifer says that the content of the meeting was all pretty standard stuff; no guarantee you'll be better off with a union; they are outsiders - we all know each other; you don't need to sign a card; you can withdraw your card. _____ says they harped on the possibility of getting workers to withdraw their cards."

With the police's and Chartwells' acknowledgment, faculty sit outside the meeting to make sure there won't be "violations of human rights."

1:50 pm  According to a member of the Law faculty, Chartwells' barring of tenured faculty from a meeting that takes place on campus property is problematic -- unless Chartwells has an agreement with the University that gives Chartwells the contractual right to hold a private meeting with the company workers. But then in this case we can hardly continue to consider the University as holding a neutral position.

Simon Evnine contacted the President directly on behalf of the concerned faculty about her strong assurance that she would guarantee a fair process. That the employer, Chartwells, is allowed to hold mandatory meetings during work hours may well fall within the letter of the agreement it drew up with SEIU, but it is certainly not fair (see our previous post on Chartwells' considerable advantages with respect to the union when it comes to reaching and talking to employees).

President Shalala replied by saying that 1. there is already an arbitrator and 2. the matter should be sorted out between Chartwells and the union.

This does not address the unfairness of mandatory meetings held by management during work hours, when the workers don't have the liberty not to attend. Those meetings may not be intimidating on the surface (certainly Chartwells has a large enough legal team to be advised on how not to break the law), but one can easily imagine how an already embattled employee might perceive them. Which is -- let us not forget -- precisely the reason why they are held. 

2:26 pm  Frank Palmeri's and Jennifer Hill's report [edited: for full report contact us using the contact form]: 

"April 29, 2013
Outside 245 University Center, 11 am

When Faculty observers entered the room shortly after 11:00, they were asked to leave by a woman who said her name was ____ and said the meeting was a Compass/Chartwell’s meeting. She said no faculty could stay in the room and declined to answer any questions about her role, the meeting’s purpose, or why faculty could not observe. By about 11:10, the meeting was beginning, with about 4 workers present and 2-3 representatives of Chartwell’s management. Two other workers arrived later.  Another woman was present, but she refused to provide her name or affiliation. 

The management representative opened the meeting by asking people where they worked and how their weekends had been. The notes below represent a summary of the statements, as accurately as could be determined from outside the room and with interruptions.

Management Rep: There are a group of people who have been trying to come in to the meeting. We unfortunately had to call the police. They are listening to what we are saying now.

______ : Anything that is said might be heard through the door.

Management Rep: I am glad to be here. I was here last fall with _____ (unclear).

This is not a mandatory meeting. You can leave if you want. If you leave, please leave quietly.

For the last couple years, the union has been trying to organize you. They’ve made an attempt to have you sign up. They’ve been giving you documents. They have asked you to get involved. A lot of people were concerned and felt as if they were being harassed by union. They have come to your homes, your work. . .

We took the position of saying let’s go the legal, proper route. We decided to take the legal route. We went to the National Labor Relations Board and asked them to give you an opportunity to vote - a vote on unionization for each and every one of you. This is the legal process – the correct way to do it.

The NLRB allows you to vote even if you’ve signed an authorization card. Even if you signed a card, you can vote. Unfortunately, when we asked them for that vote, the union filed a charge blocking that. Because the union filed a complaint, you won’t have that right to vote, unfortunately.  We felt we had to agree to what is called a card check…
What is a card check? The card check is when the union tries to get you to sign a card for unionization and then a neutral person comes in to verify the cards. There will be an observer from outside who will be presented the cards. The card check will be this Friday. The union will present all the cards they can convince the employees to sign. This neutral observer will be presented with some documents from us with your signatures. We want to make sure there is no tampering. If 50% plus one of those cards is for the union, then the union will be recognized, and you will be represented by the union. There will be no vote on Friday.

At about 11:15, three UM Security officers, Sgt. ______ and Officers ____ and ____, arrived to say that they were investigating a called-in complaint that there was intimidation of workers occurring outside Room 245. They checked Faculty IDs, but declined to say who had made the call. The Faculty observers stated that they were there to ensure there were no human rights violations. When asked what constituted intimidation, Officer _____ said perhaps blocking people from going in to the room. The officers were assured all workers who arrived for the meeting had gone inside. When asked again what would constitute intimidation, Officer _____ said perhaps making threats. It was suggested that the officers go into the meeting to ask whether employees were hearing threats inside room 245. After about 5-8 minutes, the officers left, apparently having completed their investigation and having observed no evidence of harassment.

Chartwell’s Management: A lot of people are confused.

On Friday, a Chartwell’s official will let you know what happens. You can come to [did not hear where], and by 2:30 or 3:30 we’ll know the outcome.

…Please keep in mind that the only thing that is guaranteed if there is a union is that they have the right to negotiate with us.. Don’t believe anything where they make promises. Now we’re going to play a video about what signing the card means and what people do to get them to sign cards. It has some role-playing and the acting is pretty bad.

Video:  Pro-union character: Legally, we only need 30% plus one to sign. But our union wants 50% or 70%.

Skeptical narrator:  But once people find out about what the union really means, the truth is they don’t want it—living with its rules, having to pay dues, fines, and assessments . . .

Pro-union character: But the union gives you access to a lot of resources . . . You’ll be stewards . . . This is a war we’re involved in . . . Here’s what we need to do - sign up your friends. Just ask your friends to sign; they’ll do it as a favor to you. . . . Isolate them one-by-one and then tag-team them. Here’s how it works.

Character against unionizing: For crying out loud, I’m at home. I told you I’m not going to sign your card . . . All right, I’ll sign your card just to get you to go away, but this doesn’t mean I’m in favor of the union. I just want you people off my back.

Skeptical voice: The organizer will most likely go to the company with the signed cards and demand recognition if a majority sign authorization cards. This is a standard authorization card [describes fields on cards]. What you are signing over…is the right to speak for you. If the majority of the workers sign the cards, then the union speaks for all of you, even those who didn’t sign. You’re giving the union the right to speak about your working conditions. There’s no guarantee that things will get better. . .

Pro-union character: I can’t emphasize enough that this is a war – us against them. Section 7 of the NLRA says you have the right to organize – the government protects your right to join a union.

Skeptical narrator: The same Act protects your right not to join a union . . .

Pro-union character: Find out what your fellow workers are saying…Everybody’s got something to gripe about. . . .Draw that out, then say the union can solve it.

Voice of a worker: I’m so concerned about _____; she needs so much medication . . .”

Skeptical voice: Everyone’s got a problem. You’re told the union is the solution. . . . There are two reasons employees turn to unions: some have a problem . . . and there are those employees who don’t have a lot of problems but want to make it a better place to work. But unions can’t make supervisors into Mr. Nice Guy, can’t get him fired, can’t really change things.

When the union says the employees are the union,… don’t believe them. They will tell you that you are all their sisters and brothers. But the union officials have the power according to the union constitutions. And if the union organizer doesn’t volunteer this information, he wants the in-house pushers to do the same thing – wants the in-house pushers to say “we all of us are the union and by working together we’ll be able to make this a better place.”

…If the employees don’t really have problems, the union manufactures them. There’s no perfect company. But can the union solve problems or make changes? No way. All the union wins if it wins the election is the right to bargain – no guarantees. If someone asks you to sign a card, remember that the union cannot guarantee you will get a contract or that you will get more than you have now. There is no guarantee you won’t lose wages and benfits. The truth is you can lose salary and conditions in bargaining after a union comes in.

The union card says, ‘I hereby authorize my employer to deduct so much per month for monthly dues. . . .’ That is called dues checkoff. When you get right down it, that is why the union is here. They need your card, and they need it bad.

After the video, the management representative asked for questions. There were no questions. The meeting broke up at about 11:45. The management representative encouraged individuals to stay behind to talk individually.

Jennifer Hill taking her absolutely awesome notes. Thank you Jennifer and Frank for your notes!

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