INDIANAPOLIS (CN) – Marsh Supermarkets, a Midwestern chain with nearly 100 outlets, prohibited workers from unionizing, “interrogated” workers about their union “sympathies,” “threatened its employees with discharge if they engaged in union activity,” barred union literature from workers’ rest areas, and “created an impression among its employees that their union activities were under surveillance,” the National Labor Relations Board claims in Federal Court.
The NLRB sued Marsh for unfair labor practices, asking that it be enjoined from interfering with workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act while awaiting a decision by an administrative law judge.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 700 filed a charge with the NLRB in June 2010, accusing Marsh of violating employees’ right to organize.
After a field investigation, the NLRB filed a consolidated complaint, alleging that Marsh managers in Indianapolis and Beech Grove, Ind., discouraged membership in a labor organization.
Marsh, based in Indianapolis, operates more than 90 supermarkets in Indiana and Ohio and employs nearly 9,000 people.
According to the NLRB’s federal complaint, Marsh managers Mike Vickery and Garland Simpson “threatened its employees with discharge if they engaged in union activity,” and “created an impression among its employees that their union activities were under surveillance.”
The NLRB says that Marsh managers “interrogated its employees concerning their union membership, activities, and sympathies,” and “orally promulgated and since then maintained a rule prohibiting employees from discussing the union on company time.”
Marsh managers prohibited employees from soliciting union membership on company premises, and in a human resources vice president at one store “announced to employees that union literature would be removed from nonwork areas and such union literature was, in fact, removed, while other non-union literature was allowed to remain,” according to the complaint. And Marsh’s meat department manager at Beech Grove threatened workers “with unspecified reprisals because of their activities on behalf of the union.”
The NLRB adds that in September 2010 Marsh managers subjected employee Tony Massey to a breathalyzer test and fired him because he “joined and assisted the union and engaged in concerted activities.”
The Labor Relations Board says that such reprisals are part of Marsh’s agenda to discourage union affiliation.
It adds that Marsh “has been discriminating in regard to the hire or tenure or terms or conditions of employment of its employees, thereby discouraging membership in a labor organization in violation of Section 8” of the National Labor Relations Act.
The National Labor Relations Act was enacted in 1935 as part of the New Deal legislations to protect workers.
The Board wants Marsh restrained from its unfair labor practices, saying that its “employees will permanently and irreversibly lose the benefits of the Board’s processes and the exercise of statutory rights” while the Board deliberates.
An administrative hearing before the Board is scheduled for Feb. 16.
The NLRB wants Marsh enjoined from pressuring employees to renounce union activities, from firing employees based on union affiliation and from interrogating them concerning union membership. It also seeks annulment of any rule forbidding employees to solicit on behalf of the union and discuss unions on company time.
The Board also wants Massey reinstated to his former job or an equivalent position, as his support and leadership are crucial to other employees.