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Vote could resurrect workers union at Woodman’s

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JAMES P. LEUTE
November 20, 2009
— Workers at Woodman’s Food Market in Janesville will vote in December whether to recover union representation they lost earlier this year.

About 250 workers at the Janesville store are eligible to vote in the election scheduled for Dec. 11-12.


The upcoming election is the result of a petition from the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1473.


According to the petition filed with the National Labor Relations Board, a “substantial number” of employees wish to be represented for purposes of collective bargaining, and they want Local 1473 as their representative.


The union is familiar to Woodman’s employees; it represented the workers for decades—until earlier this year.


The union and Woodman’s management have been at odds for nearly two years.


In early 2008, more than one-third of the 950 employees at Woodman’s stores in Janesville, Beloit and Madison signed a petition to decertify Local 1473.


A few weeks later, more than 500 Woodman’s employees signed a second petition that called for Woodman’s to immediately pull its recognition of Local 1473 as the employees’ bargaining unit.


The case generated charges and countercharges of unfair labor practices, weeks of testimony, thousands of pages of transcripts and hundreds of exhibits.


As the NLRB investigated into this year, the two sides agreed to a private settlement that essentially dismissed all allegations and removed the union as the employees’ bargaining unit, said Irv Gottschalk, the NLRB’s regional director in Milwaukee.


The settlement apparently included a provision that the union could again try to organize Woodman’s workers.



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