Marsh hit with second federal labor charge

The National Labor Relations Board again has charged Marsh Supermarkets Inc. with violating federal law by threatening and intimidating workers attempting to unionize the grocery chain.

NLRB issued a complaint earlier this week accusing Marsh of violating employee rights at its Beech Grove store in advance of a scheduled vote to unionize in September. The latest charges follow a similar complaint filed by NLRB in December involving Marsh’s Georgetown Road store.

“The new charges indicate that the threats and intimidating tactics the NLRB found evidence of at the Georgetown Road store were not an isolated incident, but instead part of a broader pattern of coercive management tactics,” the United Food and Commercial Workers Union said in a Friday press release.

NLRB accuses Marsh management of placing workers at the Beech Grove store under surveillance, threatening employees with retaliation for supporting unionization, and even firing one for backing the attempt to organize.

Marsh executive Dave Redden "vehemently" denied the charges, saying "we remain confident that in the end these allegations will be found to be without merit.”

NLRB has set a Feb. 16 hearing to present details of the unfair labor practices it has levied against Marsh.

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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