Newly unionized Dosha Salon and Spa has hired former Oregon Republican Party chair Bob Tiernan to handle upcoming contract bargaining with its own workers.
The full-service salon appears to have gotten off to a poor start as a union employer. Just weeks after workers voted to join Communications Workers of America Local 7901, the union filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) accusing Dosha of several labor law violations.
Tiernan, a former state rep from Lake Oswego, chaired the Oregon Republican Party for two years ending January 2011, but is best known as sponsor of Oregon’s mandatory minimum sentencing law and 1994 Ballot Measure 8, which made public workers deduct 6 percent of their salary for pensions until it was struck down by the Oregon Supreme Court.
Tiernan has also been a labor relations consultant. He represented Payless in the 1990s. As chief operating officer at the Grocery Outlet discount chain, he negotiated industry-standard contracts with United Food and Commercial Workers at three unionized stores. Last year, he ran a campaign to dump the union at a Berkeley Bowl supermarket in Berkeley, California; management lawbreaking there was so egregious that the NLRB brokered a re-run of the election, and in March, workers voted to go nonunion.
At Dosha, which employs 155 workers, workers voted March 30 to unionize. Since then, the company has broken federal law, according to charges filed April 21 by the union. In addition to unilaterally changing how vacations are scheduled without bargaining over it, management has disregarded the workers’ choice to unionize by directly meeting with workers on the company’s own terms to discuss bargaining.
Dosha held a mandatory meeting April 18 for workers at all four of its locations, at the Aveda Institute. Owner Ray Motameni spoke briefly and then introduced Tiernan as Dosha’s newly hired “business consultant.” A Dosha employee made a recording of the meeting, a copy of which was provided to the Labor Press.
“We want you to know that we are going to run this company as if there’s no union here,” Tiernan says in the recording. “We’re going to deal with the union and we’re going to negotiate in good faith, as the law requires us to do, but we’re going to pretend like they’re not here.”
“As long as all of you continue to do your jobs, that’s what’s good for you,” Tiernan said. “Try to ignore the distraction of the union, because it is a distraction. You’ve just got to stick to your business.”
During the half-hour-long presentation, Tiernan largely stuck to standard anti-union boilerplate: legalistic half-truths, insinuations, and fear-mongering about hefty initiation fees and union demands that workers be fired for not paying dues. With the floor to himself, Tiernan mocked and derided CWA, and dampened expectations.
“[Owners Ray and Melissa Motameni] want the freedom to run their business,” Tiernan said, “and they’re not to give it up to the union. The union’s going to want to run this business, and I’ve got news for you: Ray is not going to allow that.”
Tiernan told Dosha workers that negotiations take a long time, that an agreement will not be reached in the next several months, that a “union security” clause will be a huge item of contention, and that Motameni will not agree to anything that will hurt his business. To explain what bargaining will look like, Tiernan hypothesized a scenario in which the union proposes that all stylists be given a company-owned Maserati to drive, to which he responds that the company does not agree.
“The union does not understand this business,” Tiernan told Dosha workers. “This is the Communication Workers of America. These are the folks who are plugging in cable TV sets, stringing wire.”
Through all this, union supporters sat and bit their tongues. When question time arrived, several spoke up in rebuttal. Tiernan said CWA doesn’t know the business? Well, what does Tiernan know about the beauty industry, one worker asked. At Dosha, the union isn’t someone else, said a union supporter. The workers are the union. And nine of them, elected by their peers and representing every location and occupation, will be at the bargaining table.