Madeline Chocolate Employees Picket Union
Ninety of the 457 employees of Madeline Chocolate Novelties, Inc., a Rockaway-based company, boarded two buses earlier this week and picketed their union office in Long Beach.
These employees, who have almost unanimous support from the remaining Madeline workers, are "fed up" with the leadership of their union, the Madeline Independent Association (MIA).
The union’s newly elected President, Luis Carrero, said, "With the support of more than 95 percent of the members of the Association, we will travel to our Association’s office to once and for all end the regime of a group of individuals that have run our Association at the direction of our employer."
Carrero said that the employees of Madeline Chocolate voted in a new union, TCU Local 1222, AFL-CIO, but management and former Association officers signed a four year extension agreement without the consent of employees. Carrero claims that the Association said that the extension was signed six month prior to the vote for a new union, thereby baring a petition by the employees.
"As a result of this action and other breaches of the fiduciary responsibility of these officers, 240 Association members attended a meeting where a vote was held to remove the current officers," Carrero said. "Association members unanimously voted to remove them. These same 240 Association members then nominated and elected a new slate of officers led by me."
Kevin E. Boyle, jr., president of TCU Local 1222, said the vote by the workers for a new union was "democracy in action."
Boyle reiterated the employees’ concern that the Association is in the pocket of management and "in fact was set up by the company."
Management responded to these accusations by informing the Wave that they have and will remain on the sidelines during this union fight.
"We aren’t involved," said Jorge Farber, vice president and co-owner of Madeline. "This is an internal union dispute among factions. Unless we are told differently, the status quo exists. This can change with legal notification."
Farber referred to the employees’ accusations in regards to the signing of the contract as "distorted". He said management and the union made an agreement, with all financial issues to be negotiated.
"We negotiated with the union, which were and are the representatives of the employees," Farber said.
Although the battle for control of the union has captured the interest of employees, there has been little spillover in the workplace. Farber said, "We are working and maintaining a good relationship with our workforce."
Repeated calls to Association officials for comment were not returned.
"These workers are taking back their union," Boyle said. "It is time that the former officers, who have done a great disserve to these hard working people, allow the will of the workers to prevail by leaving their offices immediately."