UFCW 655 wins second election at MERS Goodwill

Despite vicious anti-union campaign, employees vote to retain union as bargaining agent

Festus, MO – UFCW Local 655 scored a major victory when by a 59 percent margin, employees of MERS Goodwill in Festus voted to retain Local 655 as their bargaining representative despite a vicious anti-union campaign by management.

Upon notification Jan. 11 that Local 655 had won the vote, again, as its first action supporting Goodwill employees, Local 655 demanded that Goodwill immediately implement a promised January 2021 pay increase and announced its readiness to begin negotiations, again.

“Goodwill’s employees work hard to serve the community, and that hard work, unfortunately, has not been appreciated or recognized in the past. We will work just as hard to ensure our newest members, working together with our union, will see the benefits of their positive vote, in terms of better wages, better benefits and improved working conditions,” said Local 655 President David Cook.

“While we will always put our members’ welfare first, we look forward to a cooperative working relationship with Goodwill so that both their employees in Festus and Goodwill can benefit from a sound union contract. Cooperation can benefit everyone, and that’s our goal,” Cook added.

This victory comes despite an intense anti-union campaign by Goodwill management that included:

  • Holding up a company-wide $1 an hour pay raise scheduled for January 2021, but only at the Festus store. All other non-union stores got the raise.
  • Spreading lies about the union in printed materials and mandatory meetings.
  • Moving three supervisors to other stores fearing they were supportive of the union.

In 2019, employees voted overwhelming to join Local 655. MERS Goodwill stalled negotiations long enough to force a decertification election, which they have now lost.

“The workers are very, very happy with the results,” said Director of Organizing Billy Myers. “They are looking forward to their new contract.”

Reiterating that, salesperson Nicole Robinson, a member of the negotiating committee, said, “I’m thrilled we’re keeping the union. Most people are. We are looking forward to our first contract for better wages, and the fact that with a contract, they won’t be able to take away things on a whim.”

Local 655 is prepared to go immediately into negotiations once Goodwill provides information they’ve requested regarding health benefits, information necessary for the union and the negotiating committee in order to develop a comprehensive proposal.

However, as was the case in previous talks, that information has yet to be provided.

“Not providing us with the needed data we felt was part of their original stalling tactic,” said Director of Collective Bargaining Robert Spence. “Immediately after the election results, their lawyer reached out to re-start talks and we’ve again told him we need the background data first. We are ready to begin again as soon as it’s forthcoming. The employees deserve no less than good faith discussions in order to win a fair contract.”


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