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Union cancels Marsh vote planned for Friday

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The local grocery workers union has pulled its request for an election at the Marsh supermarket in Beech Grove, saying recent events cast a pall over the vote scheduled for Friday.

"We want them to have a free and fair election," United Food and Commercial Workers International representative Anthony Tracy said Thursday afternoon. "We don't believe the environment exists right now."

Also this week, UFCW Local 700 filed a third complaint against Marsh with the National Labor Relations Board alleging unfair labor practices. The union filed two previous charges after Marsh employees were fired or disciplined, allegedly in retaliation for their activities promoting the union.

In a written statement, Marsh Supermarkets Inc. HR executive Dave Redden "vehemently" denied the union's charges and said the decision to call off the vote is a sign that a majority of employees are comfortable with the status quo.

"While we do not comment on current litigation, we believe the untrue statements and charges by the union are an effort to cover up the real failure of the union to entice our associates to vote for their representation," said Redden, the chain's executive vice president of human resources. "Once more our associates did not see the benefit in being unionized as in their best long-term interest."

As IBJ reported earlier this month, the union drive has picked up steam this year 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 store. Even if the Friday election were successful, the union would have to repeat the process throughout the chain to represent employees at other stores.

The union's Indianapolis-based Local 700 already represents 8,000 Kroger store employees.

According to the complaint union officials filed Wednesday, Marsh fired employee Tony Massey on Sept. 7 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, Marsha Bookout.

The union also alleges that recent pay increases for store department heads and top clerks, which came after the petition for election was filed in July, were unlawful. It accuses Marsh of giving the raises to influence the vote, and says known union supporters didn't get pay increases.

Union leaders may ask the labor relations board to reschedule the election, but it will face a six-month waiting period. Tracy said that's not a problem. "We're letting the board investigate charges," he said. "It probably will take that long to resolve the charges."

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  1. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

  2. If you only knew....

  3. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.

  4. The facts contained in your post make your position so much more credible than those based on sheer emotion. Thanks for enlightening us.

  5. Please consider a couple of economic realities: First, retail is more consolidated now than it was when malls like this were built. There used to be many department stores. Now, in essence, there is one--Macy's. Right off, you've eliminated the need for multiple anchor stores in malls. And in-line retailers have consolidated or folded or have stopped building new stores because so much of their business is now online. The Limited, for example, Next, malls are closing all over the country, even some of the former gems are now derelict.Times change. And finally, as the income level of any particular area declines, so do the retail offerings. Sad, but true.

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