One thing you can say for sure about the process America’s workers use to unionize: It’s not fast. At a Clackamas, Oregon, pet hospital affiliated with the VCA chain, a group of 113 workers voted July 5, 2018, on whether or not to join International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 5. The union won by one vote — 54 to 53 — but the company challenged the right of four workers to cast ballots, and it took the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) eight and a half months to rule on those challenges.
The result, certified March 19: Local 5 won by one vote.
That means the pet hospital — VCA Northwest Veterinary Specialists — must now recognize the union and engage in “good faith” bargaining over a first union contract.
The Clackamas pet hospital, located at 16756 S.E. 82nd Drive, is part of the massive 800-hospital VCA chain, which was bought in 2017 by Mars, Inc. — a privately held behemoth owned by America’s third richest family. Mars is by far the largest of several giant national veterinary companies that are taking over an industry that used to be full of mom-and-pop operations.
The Clackamas unit is one of three where workers joined ILWU in the last year year. Workers at a VCA unit in San Francisco joined ILWU Local 6, and workers at Mars’ BluePearl subsidiary in Seattle joined ILWU Local 9. Both are in the process of negotiating a first contract.