By DAVID A. COOK
I was hoping to write this under different circumstances. Two weeks ago, I used this space to explain how Goodwill — a company that claims it’s goal is to “change lives through the power of work” — was not only failing in their mission, but was actively fighting against a better life for their employees.
I was hoping that by now I could provide some good news on that front. I was hoping to report that Goodwill and Local 655 had begun negotiations in good faith to bargain a contract that would benefit all parties involved.
That’s what I was hoping but, sadly, that’s not what I can write today. Unfortunately, I am here to report that the situation at Goodwill has deteriorated further, and that Local 655 was forced to file charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Goodwill for failing to provide a scheduled raise to its employees.
This scheduled raise is companywide, and Goodwill provided this raise to every single qualifying employee except those at the Festus store that voted for union representation more than 18 months ago. During this challenging time as a global pandemic rages and the economy continues to flounder, as workers continue to struggle, Goodwill and is withholding a scheduled raise for its employees simply to punish hard-working men and women for exercising their legal right to bargain collectively.
UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE CHARGES FILED
We’ve taken the necessary steps and filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB. We believe that this is a clear violation of these worker’s rights. Regardless of what the Labor Board determines, what’s more obvious is that this is clearly morally wrong. It is always wrong to punish employees for exercising their rights to join a union, but to keep real money out of their pockets is a shocking offense, and it’s made even worse when you consider the challenging times we live in today. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior, and Goodwill should be ashamed of themselves.
MERS Goodwill CEO Dave Kutchback makes hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and has received six-figure bonuses. He will live a comfortable and financially stable life on the backs of the men and women he is punishing in the most petty and offensive manner possible.
To make matters worse, Goodwill has made it clear that they will use any avenue available to them to avoid bargaining. They are now seeking to invalidate the recent decertification election because their own employees voted again for union representation. They are now seeking to sue the Labor Board itself, claiming the election was somehow improperly conducted.
WE’VE SEEN THIS BEFORE
We’ve seen these methods before. Filing suit against the NLRB is just another way to delay bargaining. While I do not expect employers to always welcome unions with a warm embrace, and while I am accustomed to disagreements between employers and unions representing their workers, I still find myself saddened and angry that an employer like Goodwill would engage in such awful anti-union, anti-worker behavior.
This company, which presents itself to the public as a kind and caring community partner, is apparently no different than the cutthroat employers we’ve all become familiar with. They have no desire to “change lives through the power of work.” They want to continue to exploit the generous donations of the community to generate profits for a handful of executives while using their lawyers and their power to keep their employees down.
NO ONE WHO WORKS FULL TIME SHOULD LIVE IN POVERTY
When dealing with an employer like this it is easy to get caught up in the fight — the seemingly endless frustrating meetings to bargain, conversations with lawyers, Labor Board hearings, and more.
However, we can’t forget what this is all really about: roughly two dozen hard-working men and women who just want a better life for themselves and their families. They aren’t greedy like their employer. They aren’t asking for a handout. On the contrary, all they want are the wages and benefits they deserve.
Some of these employees rely on government assistance to make ends meet and they frequently tell us that they don’t want those handouts. One of the reasons they joined the union, they say, was to secure the pay and benefits they needed to finally do away with government help.
These are working parents who want to be able to raise their families with dignity. They don’t want lavish handouts in the form of huge bonuses like Kutchback and his fellow executives get simply for showing up. They want a job where hard work is rewarded not with petty favoritism, but with a fair paycheck and good benefits.
No one who works full time should have to live in poverty, and no one who seeks to make a full-time job into a livable wage job by joining a union should be punished by their employer. No one who chooses to use their legal rights to join a union should be treated with such contempt.
Local 655 will continue fighting on behalf of these men and women who have worked so hard. We will continue to support working families that try to make their lives better.
Employers like Goodwill can’t continue to behave this way with impunity. We will stand up to them, and we will stand for workers.