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Two non-union women fired for refusal to sign for UPS deliveries
December 7, 1997

Carpenters' Business Agent Arrested
December 5, 1997

Sparks to lose $1 million from theater construction delay
September 8, 1997

K-Mart union election deadlocked 15-15-1
August 14, 1997

Union picketing Sparks K-Mart Distribution Center
August 14, 1997

Teamsters Local 533 gets contract for RTC/Citilift workers
July 30, 1997

Labor News Roundup
September 14, 1997

UPS Nevada Strike Archive

Press Reports on the UPS Strike

Messages From Mahatama Moore

August 14, 1997

Blue light special ends in the tie department:
K-Mart union election deadlocked 15-15-1
Union files more than 20 federal charges

SPARKS, Nevada (U-News)—The first skirmish in the battle to unionize K-Mart distribution center workers ended in the expensive tie department. Fifteen mechanics and maintenance workers supported bargaining as a group through Operating Engineers Local 3. Fifteen voted against. The outcome rests on an unopened ballot challenged by the union. Organizers say that the worker in question was transferred into the department by the company specifically to water down the voting pool. That charge will join almost two dozen others filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Several other relatively new workers had their ballots opened and counted by federal election supervisors late last night. Other charges are even more serious.

"It's illegal to promise or give rewards to voters just before an election," said Bob Miller, the union's organizing chief. "We have several smoking guns in this case. One worker who is quitting was apparently promised a job in another state. Another employee was pushed to move a co-worker against the union. That's illegal. Worst of all, exactly 24 hours before the start of balloting, the plant's general manager promised to return to another compensation system which had paid the workers more money in the past. That's vote-buying. It's illegal and you can't do it. K-Mart did," Miller said.

"We still managed a draw after workers were subjected to all this late maneuvering on top of weeks of coerced attendance at mind-numbing indoctrinations by $1,000 a day union busters," Miller added. "This shows how strongly the longtime workers wanted their union. Not even running in ringers at the last minute could defeat them. They will prevail," he said. Based on its findings, the NLRB may order the company to recognize the union or call a new election.


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More workers organizing:
Union picketing Sparks K-Mart Distribution Center in support of Thursday vote

SPARKS, Nevada (U-News) Pickets went up at 6:00 a.m. Tuesday August 12 at the Sparks K-Mart Distribution Center in support of a union vote this Thursday, August 14. A majority of 31 mechanics and skilled maintenance workers have signed cards informing the National Labor Relations Board that they want to bargain as a group through Operating Engineers Local 3.

"Many of the workers who approached the union have worked at the K-Mart center for two to three decades. They have not made this decision lightly," said union business representative Chuck Billings.

"They have seen longtime co-workers in building maintenance, housekeeping, payroll and trucking fired and told to apply for their old jobs with subcontractors offering lower pay with no benefits. They saw their pension plan permanently frozen and eliminated, costing them the retirement security they depended on. They went for years without raises until they started talking unionization. K-Mart is now profitable, but resists the request of these loyal, longtime workers who want to bargain as a group," Billings added. The truck drivers faced pay cuts of four dollars per hour under the subcontractor.

"This is hard, hot, dangerous labor. Employees have seen what the company has done to other workers. In 1995, a Florida jury awarded three pharmacists $2.17 million in age discrimination damages and back pay. A longtime worker at the Sparks facility was intentionally fired on trumped-up charges to rob him of his pension benefits. A Washoe District Court jury awarded George Ponsock $443,120 in back pay and damages. That judgment was affirmed in a landmark decision by a unanimous Nevada Supreme Court," Billings stated. (K-Mart Corp. v. Ponsock, 103 Nev. 39, 732 P.2d 1364, 1987)

"Some of the voters in this election worked with George Ponsock and are well aware that this company says whatever is convenient. The front of the employee handbook states 'we are not anti-union but simply pro-associate.' However, the very last page declares that 'irrespective of any statement contained herein...the company can terminate the relationship at will at any time with or without cause,'" Billings noted.

"Rather than respect the will of its workers and prove its own statement about not being anti-union, K-Mart retained Dave Somerville, an expensive union-busting consultant. The company recently spent over $163,000 on such people to stop what became a union win at the Oakland K-Mart Superstore. These hired guns make $1,000 to $1,500 per day preaching to captive audiences in mandatory meetings, with unions never allowed the same access. Their ruthless tactics have resulted in our filing charges of illegal, unfair labor practices, including intimidation, interference, discrimination and coercion" Billings said. "All that consultant money should go to pay employees," he added.

Sparks center manager Dan Ward ran a K-Mart distribution facility in Greensboro, N.C., when workers voted in favor of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE). The mostly African-American workforce objected to being paid $4 per hour less than employees at other K-Mart warehouses. The first union contract generated pay raises of 22 to 52 percent as well as a wide range of benefit improvements.

The corporation came under local criticism last year for building its controversial northwest Reno Super K-Mart with low-wage, out-of-state labor. Established in the 1960s, the sprawling Sparks facility covers 33 acres.

Informational picketing starts at 6:00 a.m. at the corner of Kresge and McCarran and will continue at staggered times until voting begins Thursday afternoon. Operating Engineers Local 3 represents a wide range of workers throughout Nevada. Its more than 35,000 members in four western states include municipal employees in Sparks, Ely, Elko and Susanville and Lander and White Pine counties. They also represent Storey County deputies and dispatchers, Mineral County dispatchers and Newmont Mining heavy equipment operators.


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July 30, 1997

Teamsters Local 533 reaches agreement on behalf of RTC/Citilift workers

Teamsters Local 533 recently concluded six months of negotiations on a new contract for Citilift employees at the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County. The new agreement covers both operations and maintenance workers, about 65 people employed by subcontractor ATC/Vancom. Citilift is a shuttle service specializing in the transportation needs of the elderly and disabled.

The Citilift maintenance department voted for Teamsters representation last October. The contract for operations employees was due to expire at the end of June. Both departments were combined into a single contract which went into effect for four years beginning July 1, 1997. Highlights include shift pay and training pay raises. Full-time mechanics with more than three years' service received a raise from $12.55 to $13.95 per hour. Bus washers with three to 12 months of service went from $7.35 to $7.60 per hour. All workers will receive raises on July 1 through the year 2000.

Local 533 secretary-treasurer and CEO Louis E. Martino, Jr., is a former RTC/Citifare driver who led the union's successful drive to organize the Washoe County mass transit system. He served as business agent for the local before his election as secretary-treasurer. Martino also serves on Teamsters President Ron Carey's select panel which advises the top leadership on new internal organizing strategies. Martino is currently in Washington, DC, working on the national United Parcel Service contract negotiations. In the first six months of this year, Local 533 won elections to represent workers at American Linen, the City of Fallon and the IGA Super Center market in Ely. Regionally, the Teamsters won an election to represent Reno Air flight attendants where negotiations will start soon.


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