Dosha Salon Spa workers will vote whether to remain union

[UPDATED BELOW]

Owners of Dosha Salon Spa may think they’re within reach of crushing employees’ dreams of a union contract.

Workers who do hair, nails, makeup and massages at the Aveda-licensed chain voted in March 2011 to join Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7901, unhappy with wages as low as the legal minimum — and verbal abuse and frequent rule changes from management. But “bargaining” with the company’s hired labor relations consultant has proved an exercise in frustration for union activists. No contract has been achieved in over a year of meetings, and now a vote has been set for Aug. 21-22 on whether to dump the union.

The union had 54 percent support when it won the March 2011 election, but anti-union workers claim to have signatures from 60 percent of workers on the April 2012 petition to decertify. Local 7901 President Madelyn Elder doubts that claim, and says anti-union petitioners gathered signatures from the Clackamas location, which won’t get to vote: Dosha insisted that they are not part of the bargaining unit, and eventually prevailed. But at least 30 percent of the represented workers must have signed the petition, or the National Labor Relations Board would not have moved forward with a vote.

Since the union campaign began at Dosha, CWA has filed charges on 13 separate occasions alleging that Dosha violated federal labor law. After investigations by the National Labor Relations Board, most of the charges were resolved in a March 2012 out-of-court settlement. In the settlement, Dosha paid $6,946 to massage therapist Mary Christ, who’d been fired after she wore union colors. Dosha also took down surveillance cameras it had placed in an employee break room and posted a notice promising not to do any of the 30 things it was alleged to have done in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. All but one of the other charges have been dismissed or withdrawn.

A year’s worth of bargaining has produced agreement on some items, just not wages, scheduling, hours, union security provisions, or a grievance procedure with a provision for binding arbitration. And core union supporters have quit or been fired since the election.

[UPDATE 8/21/12: CWA withdrew a week before the scheduled election.]

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