Palermo's workers filed a petition to form a union with the NLRB on May 29. Then, they filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company on June 4, which alleges coercive actions (such as surveillance and intimidation), refusal to recognize their attempt to form a union and changes in terms and conditions of employment. Some workers have been on strike since June 1.
There are several issues the NLRB will not decide on until after the election, if necessary. They are: whether employees are striking for unfair labor practice or economic condition reasons; whether workers abandoned their jobs at Palermo’s or are on strike; and whether some workers were terminated for immigration issues or for being on strike.
“All these issues lend themselves to the uncertainty that we we’re talking about in the decision,” said Irv Gottschalk, NLRB regional director for Milwaukee.
For now, the NLRB decision defines those eligible to vote in the union election: those who were on the company’s payroll on or before June 30.
“You need to have been on the company’s payroll by June 30 and then you still need to be employed at the time of the election,” Gottschalk said.
Depending on interpretation, this leaves many striking workers’ eligibility up in the air. Workers are legally allowed to strike and have the right to immediate reinstatement to their jobs if the strike is ruled to be for unfair labor practices.
In addition, “It gets tricky because we’re not in any position to interpret immigration law,” Gottschalk said.
Some voters’ eligibility may be challenged following the election.
“We’re certainly anticipating the possibility of it and we’ll just have to see what actually happens,” he said. “When you do have the election, how many people have been challenged and how does it relate to the spread of yes and no votes.”
After the vote, there is also a seven day waiting period during which any party can file objections to the election.
The NLRB’s decision also included confirmation that the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1473 will be included on the ballot, along with the Palermo Workers Union and the choice of no union.
The board will likely set an election date on Monday, and it will be held within 30 days of the decision that was issued this week, Gottschalk said.