2004-09-24 / Community

NLRB Upholds Union Suit Against Duane Reade

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has upheld an earlier ruling by an Administrative Law Judge finding Duane Reade liable for unpaid contributions to union benefit funds – a more than $25 million liability.

“This is an important decision for the workers at Duane Reade,” said John R. Durso, president of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, AFL-CIO, the union representing 2,600 workers at 142 Duane Reade stores.

“This enormous liability – and $25 million is a pretty conservative estimate — and the litany of other problems at Duane Reade are a result of the misguided and unlawful labor practices of Duane Reade’s top management.

Duane Reade has incurred a huge monetary liability, tremendous litigation costs, lost public esteem, and gained nothing from its ongoing battle with the Union. It’s time for Duane Reade to stop its unlawful practices and to finally bargain a contract for these workers,” Durso continued.

On February 18, in an action by the United States Government through the NLRB, the Administrative Law Judge issued a decision finding Duane Reade liable for unfair labor practices in declaring two unlawful impasses in collective bargaining negotiations, unilaterally ceasing to pay benefit fund contributions from August 31, 2001 forward, failing to provide wage information to the Union, failing to pay accrued sick leave in accord with the contract, and failing to remit to the Union dues the company deducted from the employees’ paychecks.

The $25 million in contributions and interest doesn’t include Duane Reade’s obligation under the decision to “reimburse employees for any expenses resulting from the unlawful failure to make contributions to these funds.”

According to the union, any calculation of the damage that Duane Reade owes its workers under this obligation will involve determining how many eligible employees in the bargaining unit suffered a loss as a result of Duane Reade’s failure to pay contributions and the corresponding loss of pension, health, and vacation and fringe benefit coverage.

This ruling is part of an ongoing labor dispute at Duane Reade. Despite an election where 93 percent of employees who cast a ballot voted in favor of affiliation between ATC and Local 338, Duane Reade has refused to acknowledge the union and to negotiate a contract for more than two years.

In response, ATC/Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, AFL-CIO has launched a “Dwayne Greed” campaign that calls for an end to Duane Reade’s unfair labor practices, and demands that the giant retailer bargain for a contract.

The Duane Reade store in Rockaway Park has sparked some controversy in the community, first for its lawsuit against local artist Patrick Clark and then for its driveway, which sparked several accidents before the DOT fixed the problem.

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