NLRB sides with pizza drivers union
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a complaint against a Domino's Pizza franchisee it claims is not cooperating with a delivery drivers union formed in April at one of its stores. (Read Drivers unionize Florida Domino's Pizza store.)
 
After reviewing several charges filed by the American Union of Pizza Delivery Drivers against Twomays Inc., a seven-unit Domino's franchise group in Pensacola, Fla., the NLRB returned a multicount complaint against the franchisee and scheduled a Nov. 2 hearing before an administrative law judge.
 
Though the complaint does not represent a victory for the union, Jim Pohle, AUPDD president, said the document acknowledged Twomays' efforts to avoid negotiating with the union.
 
"There's been no real progress either way with contract negotiations," Pohle said. "There are three major things we're fighting for: to be paid (Florida's minimum wage of $6.40 per hour); more monetary compensation for when gas went above $3 a gallon; and the right to tell management we don't feel comfortable going into red zone areas. That's it. And they're fighting us tooth and nail over those three things."
 
Meanwhile, a verbal skirmish has developed between AUPDD and Twomays'

start quoteA union shouldn't be about tearing down companies, it should be about building companies up. I don't want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg and hurt the business. If we do that, we're not supporting our members."end quote

— Jim Pohle, President, American Union of Pizza Delivery Drivers

lawyer. AUPDD accused representatives of Twomays of resisting negotiating with the union, while Twomays' labor attorney, Keith Pyburn, said AUPDD stopped the bargaining process.
 
"The union has cancelled all the bargaining sessions. (Pohle) said he was too busy doing interviews," Pyburn said, referring to multiple interviews conducted by Pohle for stories about AUPDD.
 
Pohle said he did cancel a bargaining session scheduled for late September because he believed Twomays could not compile information AUPDD requested to pursue a series of grievances submitted to the NLRB. AUPDD wanted information on details of an arrangement with a local church, where it says Twomays management held an illegal anti-union meeting, as well as wage and hour data for the store's drivers. Those numbers would be used to help determine whether the Domino's store could employ them full time.
 
Pohle said Twomays' unwillingness to meet at the bargaining table, not recent media coverage, has slowed progress. "We won the vote in April, but most of our press coverage started five days ago."
 
Media from television networks to large newspapers have covered the AUPDD story, and Pohle said the attention is swelling AUPDD's ranks.
 
"We have members now in 16 states, and people want to try to unionize the places where they're working," he said. "Just this morning we had 30 people join. It's really taking off."
 
NLRB weighs in
 
Rodney Johnson, director of the NLRB's Region 15, said his group is neither pro-union nor pro-employer. It's sole purpose is to ensure the collective bargaining process is handled fairly for both parties.
 
When one party files charges against another, as AUPDD has against Twomays, NLRB agents investigate them by talking to members of each group and compiling affidavits.
 
"Once we have both sides of the story, we make our determination as to whether the charges have merit," Johnson said. "We always look at charges as against a company itself, not an individual owner."
 
In AUPDD's case, the NLRB determined Twomays had failed and refused to bargain collectively, and now both groups must stand before a judge at a Nov. 2 hearing.
 
The NLRB urges parties to settle their differences out of court, but Johnson said it doesn't always work out pleasantly. "Any party not satisfied with the result can take their complaint to the board in Washington D.C."
 
Difficult work environment, but improving
 
Bruce Coats, a delivery driver who also is AUPDD's secretary, said working conditions at the Domino's store have worsened considerably since the April union election. His hours and his number of delivery runs were cut, forcing him to find another part-time job.
 
"My money was cut down by a third over night," Coats said. "I knew it wasn't going to be pretty, and it hasn't been. So working two jobs gives me the financial war chest to dig in for awhile."
 
The Domino's store has seen six managers come and go since the union was voted in. Pohle and Coats said some challenged union members, while others were fair. That cooperative spirit, however, didn't always help those managers; Coats said some were reassigned to other Twomays stores.
 
Both men count the current manager among the fair group.
 
"We have a lot a lot respect for the man," Pohle said. "He basically said, 'I'm not against you guys, I'm not for you guys, I'm a manger. I'm here to help my people.' I can't ask for anything better than that. He's taken the time to show us the respect we've earned, and we've asked him to listen to our problems and give us an answer. He's the only one who's listened. As long as he's there, I see better things in the future for the store."
 
Pohle stressed AUPDD's mission is not to harm Domino's nor the unionized Twomays store. The group only wants to improve drivers' wages and safety on the job. The current negative mood at the store, he added, has hurt productivity and he believes it's also hurting sales.
 
"A union shouldn't be about tearing down companies, it should be about building companies up. That's what we want to do," he said. "When it's a better place to work, everyone makes more money, and we want to make it a better place to work. I don't want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg and hurt the business. If we do that, we're not supporting our members."

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