70% of Boathouse workers sign up

NYHTC — February 25, 2011

Next step: Fight for a contract and justice

After signing up a majority of the workers, the union has filed all necessary petitions with the United States Government to demand union recognition from Boathouse management. The union, along with its supporters, is now free to take any actions necessary to force management to reinstate the employees who were illegally terminated, and to negotiate a contract with the union.

At 5:00 pm on Thursday, January 27, the union filed its election petition with the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") to become the collective bargaining representative of the employees of the Boathouse after a majority of the employees signed union authorization cards. Approximately 70% of Boathouse employees have signed cards.

NLRB election may be unnecessary

Four days later, the NLRB announced its decision to block the holding of a union representation election indefinitely while it investigates a long list of very egregious unfair labor practice charges against management, including, but not limited to, the mass termination of 16 banquet employees.

The NLRB took the highly unusual step of blocking the election on its own initiative and without even awaiting the union's request to do so, because the employer's misbehavior may have made the holding of a fair election impossible.

This could mean that, in addition to issuing complaints against Boathouse management for its unlawful acts, the NLRB may seek more extraordinary remedies against the employer, such as a 10(J) injunction (which would expose management to potential criminal penalties), or a Gissel bargaining order (which would award the union certification based on the fact that a majority of workers have signed cards). The election could remain blocked until after the union has won a contract fight, also making an election unnecessary.

Management afraid to hold a fair election

As expected, immediately upon receiving notice of the union's election petition, Boathouse management took steps to avoid an election. Management's attorney, David Weissman, informed the NLRB that it would contest the bargaining unit described in the union's petition. Asked what unit it considered appropriate, management took about two weeks to respond and then insisted that various managers and supervisors, as well as the hosts/hostesses, and boat and bike rental employees be included in the unit. When the union responded that it would be willing to allow those employees (including the disputed supervisors) into the unit, management backtracked and informed the NLRB that it would also insist that only so-called "full-time" employees should be allowed in the unit.

Obviously, very few Boathouse employees meet the definition of "full-time" as set forth in the Boathouse handbook, and furthermore, there is no legal basis for excluding the regular part-time employees who constitute a majority of the Boathouse workforce.

By backtracking on its first proposed bargaining unit, by firing 16 regular banquet employees without the slightest plausible reason, and by laying off restaurant employees for the first time, management signaled clearly its absolute unwillingness to let a fair election take place.

Fight over Contract and ULP's can begin

However, they may have outsmarted themselves, because an indefinitely blocked election has a legal effect similar to that of a union election victory, by allowing the union to picket, and/or strike the restaurant to remedy unfair labor practices and to obtain union recognition.

Whether the NLRB orders an election or not, by petitioning for an election and submitting proof of its majority support among Boathouse workers, the union now has the right to demand recognition and a contract from management and we are legally entitled to bring economic and political pressure on Boathouse management to negotiate.

"The union and the workers will proceed to fight for a contract and to stop management's illegal behavior, as we would do anyway after an election," commented General Organizer Jim Donovan. "We will begin holding meetings with all union supporters to choose the Negotiating Committee, to draft contract proposals, and of course, to plan actions to force management to take back the terminated employees and stop breaking the law."