NEW YORK — Two employees of a Warnaco Group Inc. distribution center in Altoona, Pa., filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board Friday charging that Unite’s right to negotiate for the site’s 75 workers was improperly recognized.
The workers, Helen Holdsworth and Donna Marie Taneyhill, both of Altoona, each filed a pair of identical complaints against Unite and Warnaco. They claim that the card-check process by which the union was recognized last month was improper and assert that a majority of the site’s workers have signed a petition saying they never signed union cards. They called for a decertification of the union’s representation at the facility.
The legal work for their petitions was funded by the National Right to Work Foundation, a group that supports people who do not want to be members of unions.
Unite has used the card-check procedure in several recent campaigns, notably last year’s successful effort to organize workers at a Brylane distribution center in Indianapolis. In the card-check procedure, a neutral third party is hired to count union cards to determine if a majority of workers have agreed to join. The NLRB considers both card checks and formal elections to be valid.
Steve Weingarten, the director of Unite’s industrial department, said card checks allow workers to ratify a union “without having to go through the kind of intimidation and threats and coercion that some employees like to use to dissuade union organization.”
A Warnaco spokesman said the company had signed a “neutrality agreement” with the union during the organizing drive and did not lobby employees for or against the union. He noted that Unite has represented employees at a nearby distribution center in Duncansville for over 20 years.