Chicago Art Handlers and Teamsters Fight Over Results of Unionization Vote

by Henry Kaye on June 3, 2014 Newswire

Art handlers Chloe Seibert, left, and Neal Vandenbergh, shown inside Seibert’s art studio, say they want to be represented by a union. (Alex Garcia, Chicago Tribune)

Mana Terry Dowd art handlers Chloe Seibert, left,  and Neal Vandenbergh. (Courtesy: Alex Garcia, The Chicago Tribune)

Chicago still doesn’t have a major art handlers union. On April 25, 2014, art handlers at Mana Terry Dowd, Chicago’s largest art-handling company, voted on unionization with Teamsters Local 705. But over a month later, the results of that vote have yet to be decided as the Teamsters challenge five of the ballots cast by employees of Mana Terry Dowd.

Last week during a two-day-long hearing with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Teamsters Local 705 contested five of the ballots cast in the election. These votes, according to a Teamsters representative, were made by “management and should not be included in the eligible voter list.”  Out of the five challenged votes, Mana Terry Dowd immediately agreed to remove two of them from the final count because those employees were, in fact, not eligible to vote. In addition to challenging these votes, the Teamsters presented evidence of the unfair labor practices the art handling company has allegedly committed in the weeks leading up to the unionization election.

The remaining three ballots are still being debated by the National Labor Relations Board. Local 705 maintains that these three were also cast by management; thus they should be made void.

NLRB’s final verdict could tip the election in either direction. Currently, the vote stands at 14 “yes” votes and 12 “no” votes, without counting the uncontested ballots. We’ll keep you updated on the results; the verdict should be released within three months.

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