Sixteen maintenance workers at Marshall’s Bridgewater Merchants, Inc. in Bridgewater, Virginia, a warehouse that supplies Marshall’s and TJ Maxx stores with merchandise, voted in favor of becoming Teamsters on May 19. They are now members of Local 29 in Waynesboro, Virginia.
The workers cited job protection, respect and fairness on the job as the primary reasons for seeking representation. Their organizing campaign lasted 45 days.
“We sought union representation because we wanted everything—including work rules, job descriptions, disciplinary action and time off—to be in writing,” Marshall’s employee Kenneth Siever said. “We chose the Teamsters because we were looking for a union that had power; a union that was going to put its foot down and stand up for us.”
Although all other workers at the Bridgewater facility are represented by UNITE HERE, the victory marks the first time the maintenance workers have had union representation. It is also the first time Teamsters have represented any employees at Marshall’s Bridgewater Merchants, Inc.
“This victory is huge,” said John Farrish, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 29. “This is the first time we’ve been able to infiltrate this company. We’re proud of our actions and we’re proud of the actions of this group.”
Throughout the organizing campaign, mechanics faced anti-union actions headed by the company that included captive audience meetings, threats and intimidation.
“I really applaud these workers for sticking together and sticking behind their belief that life could be better. They were intimidated terribly by the employer throughout the campaign, but chose to join the Teamsters despite that intimidation,” Farrish said.
Farrish welcomes the maintenance workers to the Teamsters Union and said Local 29 will be working closely with them to negotiate a contract.