DCist | Union Kitchen Workers Face Uncertain Union Victory Amidst Firings And Delays
KI Associate Director and Director of the Race and Economic Empowerment Project, James Benton, discusses the unionization efforts at Union Kitchen and the challenges workers are facing as they fight for representation in the workplace.
“The lack of serious penalties means employers are not easily deterred from engaging in retaliatory action, says James Benton, director of the Race and Economic Empowerment Project at Georgetown’s Kalmanovitz Initiative. According (new window) to one estimate, union leaders have a 15 to 20% chance of being fired and resolutions can take years. He’s currently researching a case where a company closed a South Carolina textile mill in the 1950s because workers unionized. They eventually won their case alleging retaliation but he says the process took 25 years, which meant that nearly a fifth of payments went to workers’ heirs.
“They can really draw out the negotiating process. With the type of turnover that you see in the retail industry, they can bet that workers at some point will get disillusioned and move away from that effort or quit or find new jobs,” he says. “It’s really a sad state of affairs with labor law and this is where this is a prime example of why the you’ll hear about the PRO Act.””