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Union President Says Employees “Don’t Deserve” To Be Represented (Read More…)

By JACKIE CROSBY, Star Tribune

August 30, 2010

The union that represented employees at Murray’s Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis for decades has kissed the relationship goodbye, ending a fight over cuts to wages and benefits that created a schism among workers.

Unite HERE Local 17, which represented servers, cooks, dishwashers and bartenders at the landmark steakhouse, told the National Labor Relations Board earlier this month it would no longer press a charge of unfair labor practices against Murray’s owners. The union also said it had “disclaimed interest” in representing workers there.

Nancy Goldman, president of Local 17, said the contract was “substandard” and that the relationship with the Murray family “is so tainted, I don’t think we can do business anymore.”

“In a small shop like that, where they have a few workers who are wanting to carry the company’s water at the expense of the rest of them, that’s not a group I want to represent,” she said. “They don’t deserve it.”

The dispute began last fall at Murray’s, which had been a union shop since it opened in 1946.

Tim Murray, general manager and third generation of family to own the restaurant, said Monday the recession has taken its toll, as locals cut back on eating out, and the weekday convention business died down.

“We needed serious financial assistance from the union,” he said. “We tried to open up discussions six months before the contract was opened up. They weren’t open to talking about it then.”

The contract expired Sept. 30, 2009, but the union of nearly 40 members twice voted down a contract that called for cutbacks in wages and health care benefits.

On Feb. 10, Murray’s declared the parties at an impasse. On March 1, it imposed what it described as its “best and final offer.” That amounted to a 10 percent cut in wages to all but the servers, who already were paid minimum wage.

Murray’s also said it would pay for health care for workers who logged 120 hours a month, up from the previous 75, and would pay no more than $100 a month toward premiums, down from 80 percent previously.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in its Minneapolis regional office decided there was evidence to suggest Murray’s was engaging in unfair labor practices by imposing its own contract. Murray’s took the matter to an administrative judge.

The two sides had one meeting and were scheduled for a second on Aug. 11. But Unite HERE decided to withdraw its unfair labor charges Aug. 2, ending the process.

Shane McCaffrey, 38, a server for more than eight years, filed a complaint against the union for not properly representing workers, and made a move to hold an election to decertify the union.

“I’m not anti-union, I’m anti-Local 17,” he said. “We like our management team. We like the Murrays. They have a high standard of integrity. They were being ethical and honest. I can’t say the same for the union.”

McCaffrey’s complaint was dismissed by the NLRB, but he has appealed to the general counsel in Washington, D.C.
Kathleen Powers, 66, saw it differently. A server at Murray’s for nearly 20 years, she said she was snubbed by workers and management after she spoke up in favor of the union and its efforts.

She quit in May, a couple of years before she had planned to retire. “I just couldn’t take it anymore. It was so tense and uncomfortable in there.”

Murray said he wants to put this chapter behind him.

“We’ve had a union contract here since the day we opened,” he said. “If we wanted to bust the union, we had many, many chances in the past 64 years to do so. We want to get to work, put this behind us and continue to
run a successful operation.”



Posted by Admin on 08/31 at 09:57 AM