In a sad and bitter end to a sixth-month and longer dispute with Murray’s Restaurant, UNITE HERE Local 17 has withdrawn unfair labor practice charges the union filed and also has “disclaimed interest” in representing workers there.
Murray’s employees have been working under an employer-imposed contract since February, a contract that slashed pay and benefits.
The union hoped a favorable ruling May 28 from the National Labor Relations Board on charges the union filed in April would lead to a settlement (Labor Review, June 18, 2010).
But, once the case went before an administrative law judge in July, an outcome favoring the employer appeared likely, Local 17 president Nancy Goldman reported, so the union withdrew the charges.
Goldman said Local 17 mailed a letter August 17 to Murray’s employees informing them that the union was formally withdrawing from representing them.
Murray’s will be “forever” on Local 17’s “do not patronize list,” Goldman said.
“We had to make a very difficult decision,” Goldman said. “This union has represented workers at Murray’s for many, many years, but the relationship is soured beyond repair.”
Local 17 has represented cooks, servers, dishwashers and bartenders at Murray’s for nearly 50 years. Many employees have worked there 10, 20, 30 years.
The family-owned downtown Minneapolis restaurant has been a place for special occasions for three generations.
But the current generation of Murray’s ownership, the union found, became resolute in an effort to gut the Local 17 contract which provided healthcare, vacation pay, holidays, rights on the job and living wages for their employees.
Local 17 came to the decision to withdraw from representing the 40 workers at Murray’s because, Goldman said, “the idea of having a contract means that both parties are willing to work for the betterment of the business, while attending to the needs of the people who keep the business running – the workers!”
“It’s unfortunate that Local 17 had to take this step,” Goldman said. “We wish the workers well under these trying circumstances.”