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Petition Filed to Decertify Union Local at Nordstrom

March 26, 1990

SEATTLE (AP) _ A petition has been filed to decertify the union representing employees at Nordstrom Inc.’s Tacoma store, the retailer said.

Nordstrom said Sunday that it was notified of the filing by the National Labor Relations Board.

The store has 310 employees represented by Local 367 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. To hold a decertification election, at least 30 percent of the employees in a bargaining unit must sign the petition.

A union leader said Sunday that the petition was expected and was an attempt by Nordstrom to divert attention from its problems.

″I don’t think it’s serious,″ said Joe Peterson, president of UFCW Local 1001 in Seattle.

Nordstrom, an upscale department store retailer with a near-legendary reputation for customer service, has been embroiled in a bitter fight with the UFCW over labor relations and pay practices.

Last month, the state Department of Labor and Industries, acting on a UFCW complaint, ruled Nordstrom had violated state laws by failing to pay some employees for attending meetings, delivering merchandise, checking inventory, writing thank-you notes to customers, and doing other chores outside normal working hours.

Later, the NLRB accused the company of bypassing the union and bargaining directly with employees over whether they are owed back wages. Union complaints on other issues remain under NLRB review.

The union also filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of wage and hour violations.

Since June 1989, Nordstrom has been seeking changes in contracts with locals 367 and 1001 in Seattle to allow employees to choose whether to join the union. The UFCW only represents employees in the Seattle and Tacoma area, out of 60 Nordstrom stores and 30,000 employees in six states.

In a news release Sunday, the store said that position ″ignited the union’s expensive, nationally funded smear campaign against Nordstrom.″

″It is apparent that many of our employees are unhappy with their union and feel the UFCW has been inaccurately representing their views,″ said Joe Demarte, Nordstrom’s corporate personnel director. ″They have been forced to take matters into their own hands.

″We hope an election date will be set promptly, although we fully anticipate the union will file a string of unfair labor practice charges to delay and block the decertification process.″

Peterson had said earlier that the union was preparing more federal labor charges after receiving complaints of management pressure to sign statements supporting Nordstrom, to participate in rallies for the company and to join the decertification campaign.

″Nordstrom is attempting to divert attention from its problems by suggesting its employees don’t support our efforts,″ Peterson said. ″The fact is most Nordstrom employees have gone underground in fear of reprisals or of being blacklisted.″

NLRB spokesman Larry McCargar said the agency probably would not act on any decertification petitions until pending unfair labor practices complaints are resolved.

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