Berkeley Bowl workers decide whether to keep union

Rally on June 21 outside Berkeley Bowl

As shoppers go into the Oregon branch of Berkeley Bowl, they may see a table set up nearby with pamphlets talking about unions and justice.

Six years after the government ordered Berkeley Bowl to bargain with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5, that union is struggling to survive.

On Wednesday, workers at Berkeley Bowl will vote whether to decertify the UFCW, or continue to have it represent them. The workers’ contract with Berkeley Bowl management is set to expire July 31.

On Monday, Berkeley Bowl workers on both sides of the issue held a rally outside the Oregon Street store. The UFCW set up a table, and its supporters held up signs saying “Stop Union Busting in Berkeley.” Non-union workers from Berkeley Bowl West set up a table with a sign “Union Free Works for Me.”

The National Labor Relations Board will hold the de-certification vote.

The Berkeley City Council will consider a measure tonight opposing the attempts to de-certify the union.

Singing "Stickin to the Union" at rally

Photos by Bob Patterson from Berkeleyside Flickr pool.

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  • John Seal

    So what’s driving this de-certification vote? I find it hard to believe there’s a big grassroots-driven union-busting groundswell in Berkeley.

  • Jennifer

    If you click on the links in the story above, there’s more background.

  • EBGuy

    Well, it’s certainly a way to get a one time pay hike. A bit short sighted perhaps…

  • The idea that wanting to be union free is “union busting” just doesn’t make sense. According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 7.2 percent of employees on private payrolls are union members. Since the unions are going down hill despite their organizing efforts, you might conclude that the vast majority of employees are doing just fine without a union. Every year the National Labor Relations Board conducts many decertification elections petitioned for by employees who have come to the conclusion that they would be better off without a union. Last Labor Day the Gallup Poll announced that for the first time since they started asking the question in 1936 less than a majority said that they approved of labor unions. Then in February of this year the Pew Research Center reported a poll showing that more people had an unfavorable than favorable opinion of labor unions. Some years ago the Gallup Poll asked people whether they would personally like to be a member of a labor union. Only 21 percent said “Yes.” What is happening in Berkeley isn’t union busting. It is freedom at work.

  • BB employee

    No, I am an employee, this was DEFINITELY union busting. The store intimidated it’s employees, and was behind the petition the whole time. Don’t believe the lies of Berkeley Bowl Management. Jason Lee was bought off, the owner paid for his DUI and gambling debts is the theory.

  • Bowl employee

    So it seems that the supposed intimidation is coming from the other side also since an employee who doesn’t choose to be represented by the union is accused of things that are most likely not true. Why should employees be attacked for their personal issues? Seems a little low

  • Itzkarend

    why don’t you just quit .if you don’t like .