By COLIN STAUB
More than two-dozen workers at Crux Fermentation Project will decide in the coming weeks whether to affiliate with an independent union. Ballots will be mailed on July 14 and counted on August 4.
The union is the Crux Front of the House Employees Union, and it filed paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in May to represent workers at Crux’s brew pub at 50 SW Division St. in Bend.
Crux management declined to recognize the union and didn’t agree to an election. Instead, CEO Larry Sidor met with workers to discuss issues including tips, scheduling and unsanitary conditions in the workplace, according to NLRB documents. After that meeting, management fixed some of the sanitation issues.
Crux retained Fisher Phillips (a noted anti-union law firm) to represent it. A Fisher Phillips attorney argued the independent union didn’t count as a labor organization because it isn’t affiliated with an established union and isn’t currently negotiating with management. The NLRB found that the organization does indeed fit the definition of a union, because it has collected union cards, filed a petition and intends to advocate for workers. Fisher Phillips also pushed for an in-person election, but the NLRB ordered the vote to be conducted by mail.
The parties argued their points in a May 12 hearing, and seven weeks later the NLRB issued its findings allowing the election to move forward. The proposed bargaining unit expanded from an initial 13 servers, to cover front- and (despite the union’s current name) back-of-house workers. That includes bartenders, runners, cooks and pizza cart workers. As of mid-May there were 27 workers in the proposed unit, although the NLRB noted it could expand before the election because Crux was planning to staff up for the summer.
Workers at the nearby brewery are not included in the union petition.