Officials of Phoenix-based U-Haul International Inc., which operates more than 1,300 self-storage facilities across North America, have encouraged company employees to write to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), urging the government to revoke a 2014 decision that made it easier for workers to unionize. The legislation shortened the time between when employees can attempt to unionize and a vote is held.
Since January, the NLRB has received about 100 similarly worded submissions from current and former U-Haul employees, with many submitted on the same day and in the same format, according to the source. The requests implore the board to “repeal the current rules; reinstate the prior rules; revise the election process in a way that brings them up to date in a sensible, fair manner.” Those who have submitted letters include Joseph Cook, vice president of government relations, and Michelle Walters, assistant general counsel, who drafted the sample language provided to employees, the source reported.
“We encouraged [employees] to submit comments, and we circulated sample language,” company spokesperson Sebastien Reyes told the source. “Individuals decided whether to submit a sample comment, write their [own] comment or elect not to submit comments at all.”
U-Haul has long held a stance against unions. A document directed to its managers and posted to its human-resources webpage indicated the business should “harden our workplace against possible organizing.” While the internal memo reflected the company’s position on organized labor, it was removed from the webpage because it was made public by mistake, Reyes said.
In their letters to the NLRB, U-Haul employees lobbied for a minimum 40-day “campaign period” between the move to unionize and a vote. The submissions were provided during a period the board set to receive public comments. The deadline for submissions has been extended at least twice and is due to expire on April 18.
Though the “U-Haul employee comments to the NLRB smack of employee mobilization by the company itself,” it’s legal for businesses to encourage workers to comment on proposed labor rules, according to Paul Secunda, a professor of labor law at Marquette University.
Established in 1945, U-Haul owns more than 51 million square feet of storage space at owned and managed facilities in North America.
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