NLRB Rejects SEIU Raid at Delaware North

by Maya DeHart on August 26, 2009

(Ed Note: On August 13, we reported on SEIU’s filing petitions to decertify UNITE HERE’s longstanding representation of workers at the nationwide airport division of Delaware North Companies. On August 25, the NLRB rejected SEIU’s strategy)

A regional office of the National Labor Relations Board has dismissed a representation petition filed by Workers United/SEIU requesting an election to replace Unite Here as the bargaining representative for 2,100 employees of Delaware North Companies Travel Hospitality Services (DNC-THS), the airport division of Delaware North. This is a victory for Delaware North workers across the country who have been represented by Unite Here for over 20 years and who just completed tough national contract negotiations. The dismissal of the petition is a rejection of SEIU’s attempt to raid Unite Here’s DNC airport membership, and defeats a major organizing drive by SEIU designed to undermine worker support for their current union.

On August 7, 2009, DNC-THS employees across the 15-airport national bargaining unit represented by Unite Here ratified a new collective bargaining agreement by an overwhelming 98% margin. The one-year contract secured an “Employee Bill of Rights for Respect” which addressed a long list of protections and rights important to DNC workers around training, health and safety, seniority, time off and cash handling. The new contract also guaranteed no employee increase in the cost of health insurance over the contract’s term. Wages are negotiated airport by airport and are not negotiated as part of the national agreement.

The union and the company also agreed to immediately begin negotiations over the next contract, with the workers seeking to lower health insurance costs and reduce health insurance enrollment waiting periods for dependents after next year. The first meeting addressing improvements to health insurance coverage took place on August 11th in Houston between DNC and a 25-member negotiating committee made up of workers from across the national bargaining unit.

The dismissal of the election petition is a victory for Delaware North workers who have been facing attempted raids by SEIU since April. The decision respects the over twenty year history of representation by Unite Here at DNC and most importantly, respects the hard-fought contract ratification led by a rank-and-file negotiating committee of DNC workers from across the country.

At the same time that Unite Here members across the country were in negotiations with DNC-THS in one of the toughest economies in decades, SEIU was attempting to raid and decertify the union. When it was clear that the rank-and-file negotiating committee had reached a landmark agreement, SEIU attempted to distribute flyers encouraging workers not to participate in their own contract ratification. In a final last-ditch attempt, SEIU filed a representation petition with the NLRB. The Regional Office of the NLRB determined that the petition was invalid.

“We were thrilled when we won our contract after so much hard work from members all across the country. Now that we know SEIU can’t continue to try and divide our union, we can really celebrate the victory of our new contract,” said Rolande Richardson, a Cashier at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport and a member of the DNC worker negotiating committee.

Maya DeHart is a representative of UNITE HERE.

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