Union challenging election at Merry-Go-Round NLRB allows vote despite protest

January 17, 1993|By Frank Lynch | Frank Lynch,Staff Writer

The International Ladies Garment Workers Union refused to participate in Thursday's election for representation of the Merry-Go-Round Enterprises Inc. Joppa warehouse workers.

The company said that 314 employees are eligible to vote, but theunion has challenged that number through the National Labor Relations Board, saying that the figure is closer to 275.

The NLRB in Washington will rule on the validity of Thursday's election.

More than 800 people work for Merry-Go-Round at the Joppa location, but none is represented by a union.

Gary Simpler, an attorney representing Merry-Go-Round, said, "The union has never been in favor of holding a secret ballot to determine representation."

The union has charged that the company included among eligible voters job classifications that should not be represented. Mr. Simpler said the classifications are the same ones used when another union tried to gain representation in 1986.

Connie Brown, the union's regional organizer, has said that many workers who may want union representation have been intimidated to the point of either "not voting or casting a negative vote."

She said that warehouse workers demonstrated overwhelming support for the union last February when "a majority" signed authorization cards.

Shortly after those meetings, she said, the union brought charges of unfair labor practice against Merry-Go-Round, accusing it of:

* Unlawful intimidation of employees.

* Placing written warnings of dismissal in employee files.

* Not allowing workers to campaign for representation on their own time.

* Barring union campaign literature from bulletin boards throughout the workplace even though the company broke its nonsolicitation rule by allowing other literature to be posted.

The regional office of the NLRB said that it allowed Thursday's election, which drew about 300 ballots from the warehouse workers, to proceed because the union challenge had arrived too late.

Louis D'Amico, NLRB regional director, said, "We ran the election and immediately impounded the ballots."

"The board will rule as to the validity of the election and then make the results public," he said.

Ms. Brown said, "The union did not campaign in this election, and we informed union supporters in advance of our refusal to participate in the employer-requested election."

Mr. Simpler termed the union's challenge "a power play."

He cited an opinion rendered in 1967 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

In response to a union's demand for recognition based on authorization cards, the chief judge said that a secret ballot is necessary to decide on union representation, so that each employee can make a free and unfettered choice.

The judge ruled that, "It would be difficult to imagine a more unreliable method of ascertaining the real wishes of employees than a card check unless it it were an employer's request for an open show of hands."

*

Add Browning-Ferris Industries to the growing list of waste service companies competing for customers in Harford County.

BFI, which purchased the assets of Joppa Sanitation Jan. 9, began serving customers last week.

The acquisition gives BFI entry into the county's residential waste collection business and will increase the company's commercial and industrial accounts.

Bill Davis, BFI district manager, said that the company began serving Harford County commercial and industrial customers early last summer with recycling and solid waste removal service.

At that time, its trucks were based at BFI's location near Pulaski Highway and the Baltimore Beltway.

"I am very pleased to now have a facility in the Edgewood-Joppa area and look forward to providing our new customers with superior service," said Mr. Davis.

Joppa Sanitation Inc. was owned by Leonard and Harvey Hardesty.

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