Bus drivers vote in Rochester, but Labor Board seals the ballots


The National Labor Relations Board has sealed and not counted the ballots cast in Rochester yesterday by employees of Rochester City Lines, who were voting in an election about whether or not to unionize.

“We ran the election and impounded ballots,” reported Robert W. Chester, regional director of the NLRB, because the employer has challenged the regional NLRB decision about which employees should be included in the bargaining unit.

The question will go to the full NLRB in Washington, D.C. for a decision, Chester said. “My hope is they will get to it this week or next.”

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 filed a petition to represent 47 bus drivers and two dispatchers who work for Rochester City Lines to operate local bus service in Rochester.

Rochester City Lines contracts with the City of Rochester to provide local transit services.

The employer, however, wanted to add another 50 employees from the company’s commuter bus operation to the proposed bargaining unit, presumably to sway the vote to reject the union.

ATU president Michelle Sommers reported the week before the vote that the company had been sending letters to drivers urging them to reject the union.

The NLRB’s Region 18 office, based in Minneapolis, had ruled in favor of ATU Local 1005’s petition for the smaller 49-member unit.

The company’s appeal of the decision is one of many tactics employers routinely use to obstruct workers’ right to organize unions.

In a recent case in Minneapolis, workers’ votes in an NLRB election weren’t counted for nearly four years after the employer challenged a bargaining unit at Walker Methodist Health Center, where AFSCME was organizing workers and ultimately prevailed in the election.

In the case of yesterday’s vote, the Rochester transit employees’ ballots now sit, unopened, in a sealed envelope in a safe at the NLRB office in Minneapolis, Chester said.