An employee of water treatment company Ecolab’s Atlanta-area facility has just filed a petition for dozens of workers with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), requesting a vote to remove the Retail, Wholesale & Department Store Union, Southeast Council (RWDSU) from their workplace. The employee, Irvin Arnold, submitted a “decertification petition” signed by enough of his coworkers to prompt the NLRB to administer such a vote. Arnold received free legal assistance in doing so from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal private-sector labor law and for adjudicating disputes between employers, unions, and individual workers. Arnold and his coworkers are trying to boot officials of the RWDSU from power at the Ecolab plant. The RWDSU is notably the same union that Bessemer, AL, Amazon employees rejected by a more than 2-to-1 margin during a highly publicized April 2021 union election.
According to Arnold’s petition, the requested election will be held among the 50 Ecolab employees currently under RWDSU officials’ monopoly control, including “reliability technicians…maintenance leads, production associates, mixers, bulk bay spotter/loaders, logistics associates, production team coaches, warehouse lead workers and label control associates.”
The most recent contract between Ecolab management and RWDSU bosses expired on June 30, 2021. Because no contract currently exists between Ecolab and RWDSU, Ecolab employees may have a significantly easier time attempting to vote out the unpopular union, as union officials often manipulate non-statutory “bars” in federal labor law to prevent employee attempts to dethrone them. One such restriction, the so-called “contract bar,” immunizes union officials from employee decertification votes for up to three years after company management and union bosses ink a contract.
Arnold and his coworkers’ decertification push comes as several groups of employees across the country have prevailed in similar efforts with free Foundation legal aid. Workers at Airgas in Ventura, CA, Rush University in Chicago, IL, Desert Springs Hospital Center in Las Vegas, NV, and Bertolino Foods in Boston, MA, have all successfully voted out or forced out by other legal means unpopular union officials, just in the past few months.
Ecolab employees’ endeavor also comes as RWDSU officials continue their efforts to install themselves at the Bessemer Amazon plant, despite the overwhelming employee vote against them. A final NLRB decision has yet to issue on whether allegations RWDSU made against Amazon officials about the election process should nix the workers’ vote and prompt a do-over election.
“RWDSU union officials have shown they have a penchant for challenging the will of the very employees they claim to ‘represent.’ That poses concerns for Atlanta Ecolab employees who just seek an up-or-down vote to remove RWDSU bosses from their workplace,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Foundation staff attorneys will fight to ensure that Mr. Arnold and his coworkers can exercise this right free from any coercion by RWDSU union officials.”