A group of Nordstrom Inc. employees has asked the National Labor Relations Board for an election to decertify the United Food and Commercial Workers Union as bargaining agent for some employees of the fashion store chain.
Nordstrom Employees Opposed to Union Representation collected 660 employee signatures for its petition, spokeswoman Diane Aldrich told a news conference. The group was required to obtain signatures from at least one-third of the approximately 1,800 employees represented by the union. The employees work at five Nordstrom stores in King County, Wash."The union doesn't represent the views of a majority of employees," Aldrich said. "We're not anti-union. The union just doesn't offer (employees) any benefits."
Joe Peterson, president of Local 1001 of the union, responded to the group's move by saying it was "the actions of Nordstrom in disguise. (The group) is doing the bidding of Nordstrom."
The union said it is investigating employee charges that the anti-group used deceptive practices in getting the signatures and that the store has been helping the dissidents.
If the union files an unfair labor practice complaint with the NLRB, any election would be delayed while the board investigates. If the complaint were upheld, the election petition would be denied.
That happened in August, when the NLRB found that Nordstrom unlawfully aided employees in their attmept to decertify the union. Nordstrom denied any wrongdoing but chose not to appeal the ruling.
Even without a union complaint, the earliest any election could occur would be in June, said Larry McCargar of the NLRB.
Nordstrom is not taking sides, spokesman Tim Doke said.
"We have always viewed this as an issue between employees and the union," he said. "But it is clear to us when you are able to obtain sufficient signatures to submit to the NLRB, there is obviously some dissatisfaction with union representation."
Nordstrom and the union have been feuding for several years over worker representation and conditions. Last year, the company was forced to set up a $15 million reserve for claims by employees who were not paid for overtime work.