After stalling contract negotiations, Goodwill now encouraging employees to decertify their union
By TIM ROWDEN
Ebenezer Scrooge paid a visit to the MERS Goodwill corporate offices in downtown St. Louis Dec. 22 to present CEO David Kutchback with the 2020 “Scrooge of the Year” Award.
Kutchback attracted the attention of Mr. Scrooge with his determined efforts to undermine collective bargaining, exploit disabled workers and pay poverty wages – all while collecting a hefty salary and a six-figure bonus.
“He’s the ‘bah’ to my ‘humbug’” said Scrooge (United Media Guild Business Agent Shannon Duffy).
Also present at the event were several organizations advocating for Kutchback and Goodwill to reverse course and begin acting as a fair and honest employer in the community.
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655, Missouri Jobs with Justice and the Coalition for Truth and Independence all were present for the event.
GOODWILL WITHOUT GOOD ACTION
“With a name like Goodwill, you’d expect them to do good things,” said the Rev. Jon Stratton, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in the Central West End. “It’s not enough to have goodwill, you’ve also got to have good action. We are asking, we are demanding from the folks at Goodwill, do the right thing, don’t just have the goodwill.”
Employees at Goodwill’s Festus, Mo. store voted to join United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 655 a year ago, but Goodwill has delayed and obfuscated efforts to negotiate a first contract. Twenty-three four-hour meetings have produced little progress.
Most Goodwill store workers earn about $11 an hour.
“I don’t think their business model reflects their mission statement,” said Dave Cook, president of Local 655.
Nicole Robinson, a 34-year-old single mother of two from Pevely, has worked at the Festus Goodwill for three years and supports unionizing to secure more pay and better benefits.
Robinson said she earns $11.75 an hour, lives in subsidized housing and receives food stamps because of her low wages.
“Working 40 hours a week, I deserve more than to have to ask for handouts of financial assistance for my family,” she said.
UFCW 655 FIGHTING BACK AGAINST UNION BUSTING
Cook said last week’s “Certified Scrooge” presentation is part of a campaign the union is waging to “inform the St. Louis community who Goodwill is and who Dave Kutchback is,” adding it’s wrong Goodwill workers are paid so little that they must rely on government assistance.
“They’re never going to be $40,000-a-year jobs,” Cook said of the store positions. “But there can be dignity and respect in their compensation.”
Local 655 is now fighting a vicious decertification effort by MERS Goodwill that includes the company using standard union-busting tactics to try to convince employees to give up their union representation, including:
- Having an anti-union worker soliciting decertification signatures with distortions and half-truths about the union.
- Distributing a flyer to try to sway votes against Local 655 with falsehoods – saying the International Union spent money for golf, without noting that it was a charity fundraising tournament; and saying the union spent “thousands” in Las Vegas, without explaining the money was for a nationwide International Union convention and officers’ training program required every five years to update officers on changes to federal Labor law.
Goodwill’s anti-union tactics succeeded in collecting enough signatures to force a mail-in decertification election. Ballots were mailed out Dec. 14, and employees have until Jan. 11, 2021 to return their ballots. So much for holiday goodwill.