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Marsh agrees to settle labor complaint

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Marsh Supermarkets Inc. has agreed to pay a total of $42,500 to settle a National Labor Relations Board case accusing the grocery chain of interfering with workers’ attempts to unionize.

The Fishers-based company, which has “vehemently” denied the charges brought by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, did not admit any wrongdoing.

Signed Tuesday, the settlement calls for Marsh to compensate two former employees for wages and other benefits lost as a result of disciplinary action against them. Neither of the workers, who were fired during attempts to organize a union, wants his job back.

"Marsh has consistently maintained that we did not violate the (federal labor laws) and insisted on including a non-admissions statement in the settlement as well as no reinstatement" for the fired employees, the supermarket chain said in a prepared statement issued Wednesday morning.

Marsh was accused of violating employee rights at its Beech Grove and Georgetown Road stores in advance of a scheduled vote to unionize in September. NLRB accused the chain of placing workers under surveillance and threatening employees with retaliation for supporting unionization.

An NLRB hearing was set for Wednesday.

Under the settlement, the company will be required to post notices informing employees at those stores of their rights to organize, and it must agree not to interfere with such efforts.

As IBJ reported last fall, the union drive picked up steam as Marsh's parent company tried to sell the chain then pulled it off the market after failing to find a buyer.  

Florida-based private equity firm Sun Capital Partners, which bought Marsh for $88 million in cash and the assumption of $237 million in debt, found no takers after it began marketing Marsh for $130 million to $150 million in late 2009.

The labor relations board certified a 44-employee bargaining unit at the Beech Grove Marsh store, and a vote to authorize the union was scheduled for September.

But Local 700 canceled the election after Marsh reportedly fired an employee in retaliation for his organizing activities, assigned corporate staff to the store on Albany Street in Beech Grove to intimidate employees, and trained security cameras on one employee.

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