Union vote set at Merry-Go-RoundWorkers at the...

WORKPLACE & CAREERS

January 01, 1993|By Kim Clark

Union vote set at Merry-Go-Round

Workers at the Merry-Go-Round Enterprises warehouse in Joppa are scheduled to vote Jan. 14 on whether to join a union.

The International Ladies Garment Workers Union has appealed the decision to hold an election to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). But the union and company appear to be readying a short but intense campaign.

For nearly a year, the union and the company have been battling over representation of nearly 300 workers -- the largest single concentration of workers in the nationwide clothing chain.

Merry-Go-Round, a clothing store chain controlled by former diner denizen Leonard M. "Boogie" Weinglass, has nearly 1,000 stores and 30,000 employees across the country. It is headquartered in Joppa.

Union spokesman Joseph Danahy says the union had hoped to win representation without a vote, because most of the workers had already signed union cards.

He says he is afraid the company will pressure employees to vote against the union. Federal law allows companies to hold employee meetings at which managers can campaign against the union, he noted.

The NLRB previously alleged that Merry-Go-Round improperly questioned employees about the organizing campaign, he said.

The company settled those charges by posting notices without admitting guilt.

Gary Simpler, an attorney at Shawe & Rosenthal, who represents the company, says managers were glad the NLRB ordered a secret ballot election and believe it is the best way to gauge the desires of the workers.

He says Merry-Go-Round will put up signs and hand out fliers telling employees what union representation might mean -- emphasizing details such as union dues deductions.

None of the current workers are represented by unions, and the company has defeated two other unionizing drives.

Both sexes in study back firing harassers

A Pennsylvania State University study indicates that male and female workers agree sexual harassers should be fired.

In a test, workers played the role of a national sales manager who had been told that a co-worker had been proven to have sexually harassed someone.

Asked to rate a variety of punishments, the workers said firing was the "most just" option.

Quality teams are OK for now, lawyer says

Quality circles are safe, for the time being anyway, a local labor attorney says.

Towson lawyer Jay R. Fries is telling his corporate clients to continue organizing and running joint labor-management teams to improve quality, even though a federal labor board recently ruled that some teams violate laws against "company unions."

But Mr. Fries, of Kruchko & Fries, warns that rules governing quality teams are fuzzy and will probably change.

The much-anticipated ruling in the case that pitted the Teamsters union against Electromation Inc. of Elkhart, Ind., has "left more questions than it answered," he says.

Many managers had feared that the National Labor Relations Board would rule that any company that set up worker-management quality teams would either have to allow unions to organize those groups or would face penalties for setting up illegal company unions.

But the NLRB refused to set a precedent and decided the case on very narrow grounds, Mr. Fries says. The board indicated that it was improper for Electromation to set up teams expressly to avoid the Teamsters' organizing drive.

Mr. Fries says managers should worry if their worker teams address things that unions normally handle, such as working conditions.

But because the quality of work life can be important to product quality, Mr. Fries says, more conflict over the teams is likely.

Spending on schools may boost earnings

Attention parents: Sacrificing to send your children to a well-funded school probably will pay off in higher earnings for them.

A report by the Economic Policy Institute says that children who attend schools with higher per-pupil expenditures end up earning more.

And sending your kids to a good college is a great investment in their future, the Washington-based think tank reports.

People with high school educations or less lost economic ground in the 1980s, while college graduates saw their earnings improve.

If you think of a college education as an investment like a bond, it will pay about 10 cents on the dollar, the institute says. That is, the increased earnings of college grads pay for tuition costs within 10 years after graduation.

LTC

Study links company size, health coverage

The bigger the company, the more likely that workers will be covered by health insurance, one survey has found.

Consulting firm KPMG Peat Marwick found that big manufacturing companies provide health insurance for more of their employees than any other kind of business. Nearly nine out of 10 workers in high-wage industries get health insurance.

But retailers, and, ironically, health care companies provide the least coverage. Only half of the workers at health care firms receive coverage. And only 36 percent of retail employees get health insurance.

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