Friday, March 25, 2011

Berkeley Bowl Turns Down Union — Again

By Judith Scherr
Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Berkeley Bowl will remain non-union for the foreseeable future. On Thursday, the workers at the Oregon Street store voted 82 to 73 against membership in United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5.

In June 2010, the workers, who were union members, voted 99 to 74 to decertify the union. But the National Labor Relations Board said Bowl management had interfered unfairly with the election and scheduled the new vote.

Union spokesperson Mike Henneberry explained the loss: “The employers have access to employees,” he said, adding that they will come back again to organize a union when the time is right. “We still have 73 people who want a union,” he said.

Henneberry described the organizing effort this time as “much more low-key.” He said Bowl management had hired a “union buster” consultant for the election last year, but didn’t appear to have done so this time. Henneberry described this election as “more civil.”

Leading up to last year’s vote, there were community rallies and the city council weighed in on the side of the union. This time, given the low-key response of the Bowl management, the union opted not to involve the community, Henneberry said.

Community organizer Harry Brill helped rally the community in favor of the union before the June vote. He criticized the UFCW for leaving the community out of the organizing efforts and said, via e-mail: “I think it should be becoming obvious to unions that unless they pursue a social movement model of organizing, which implies from bottom up, they might go out of business.”

The Berkeley Bowl management did not return a call for comment on this story.

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