Hope Bakery Union Scuffle Continues; English Muffins are Safe for Now

An employee, John Hankins, who had organized a vote in which two-thirds of the employees of Arkansas bakery Southern Bakeries LLC voted to remove the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Local 111,  told a federal court Thursday that he should be allowed to intervene in the National Labor Relations Board’s petition to temporarily ban the bakery’s union decertification.

In its April 24 opposition to Hankins as intervenor, the NLRB argued that Hankins did not have an interest in the proceeding that would entitle him to proceed as an intervenor.

Hankins said that even a temporary reinstatement of Local 111 would injure him and his colleagues.

The union alleges that between at least 2012 and the withdrawal, Southern engaged in activities designed to intimidate the employees and encourage the demise of the union. It said that Southern installed cameras to give the impression it was monitoring union activity. Additionally, the union alleges, Southern told employees they were paid less under union representation than they would be otherwise, and that they were denied raises as a result of union membership.

In the meantime, around May and June 2013, Hankins passed around a petition to about 200 Southern employees, seeking a vote on whether to retain Local 111’s representation. This was a response to what Hankins said were the union’s repeated attempts to block elections in which the outcome would not be in its favor. As a result of the two-thirds vote against the union, in July 2013 Southern withdrew recognition of the union, according to court documents.

Southern denied the allegations.

Southern, located in Hope, Arkansas, produces on a large scale a variety of bagels, breads, rolls and English muffins. 

The case is National Labor Relations Board v. Southern Bakeries LLC, case number 4:14-cv-04037 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.