[3/30/2019] We’re seeing varying reactions to the union from every level of LBB management: a combination of illegal and legal, uninformed and also informed responses to their employees and coworkers who are organizing. The majority of the response is curiosity. The rest varies from unsure, healthy skepticism, to outright antagonism.
It’s a good thing that virtually everyone – from associates to managers – is thinking about what the union can/will mean for them. But when the company muffles the voice of workers, it’s a bad look for them and is also just unfair. And the workers can see that. When LBU members create non-management chats in our shared work app by which to answer workers’ questions about the union, managers add themselves without asking or announcing themselves, and proceed to enter into and dominate a space carved out for worker conversation. They’re discouraging communicating in writing, which seems arbitrary and unfair. We merely ask for unobstructed communication with fellow workers. But management is clearly very uncomfortable sharing its near-monopoly on communicating with employees. While managers make anti-union insinuations in worker group chats, it’s highly relevant to reiterate that we’re very different from many unions out there in that we reject hierarchy in our operation, and have built ourselves from the ground up, based on the experience and slim resources available.
We the workers know our own needs more intimately than anyone. But in the past when workers spoke up about unfair treatment and unacceptable working conditions, they were fired for “having attitudes.”, a euphemism for being insistent and loud about real grievances. We’ve been insisting LBB address broken and unsafe equipment for months, if not years. Since our union campaign went public they’ve been going non-stop on giving some long overdue TLC to many of the overlooked shops where these issues were the worst. That most of these shops have publicly vocal union workers is just a coincidence, right? Not likely. These are the shops where workers have a collective voice, and it’s compelling the company to clean up its act. But in this interim time when the union is active but the company is stalling to acknowledge it, the company can use a tactic that says “we addressed all concerns already, you don’t need a union.” But we all know the union did that.
What we hope LBB will realize is that this union effort is just an invitation to collaborate– that they’ll end up saving money in the long run. What we’re offering is to begin a process that aspires to create a fairer and more progressive workplace. Which is a happier workplace. Which means less turnover. Having a management-worker relationship that is easy and uncomplicated offers a competitive advantage to them. They’ve indicated they want that advantage. and want to be beacon of progress in fast food by incorporating tips into their model. That was a good start, but let’s not forget that this was always the case. Chanticleer bought LBB with this model set in place, and it hasn’t cost them anything. It’s great, but workers know it’s not enough. Chanticleer is letting its workers down around scheduling laws and sick time too. Scheduling and sick time guarantees are not mentioned to employees upon hiring, which gives workers the impression that they can’t call in sick. That’s unacceptable, causes stress that’s completely avoidable, and makes the job unnecessarily challenging.
The company is asking us to prove our majority support, and in the same breath taking low-profile measures to undercut us, even when it’s flagrantly illegal. Managers have removed union signs, thrown away union informational literature, cornered workers 1-on-1 to ask about union activity, and targeted pro-union workers with an uptick in disciplinary “write-ups”. If LBB has nothing to hide and nothing to fear, then why engage in shady, union-busting tactics right out here in the open? They have been unable to follow the law faithfully, even after calling an all-management, closed-door meeting this week where they had the opportunity to educate their supervisory team about what they can and can’t do. We see some signs that they’re trying, but they’ll have to try harder. We just ask that they observe basic legal protections extended to workers doing concerted activity. Their actions indicate the choice to take a non-cooperative path that reads a lot like the beginning of an anti-union campaign.