Cost Cutters wants employees to forfeit right to unionize

This is from a story I wrote in Sunday’s Tribune. I posted it here because I thought some readers may want to read the full text of the document employees were asked to sign. You can find it here, or at a link further down in the story.

A former manager of a Great Falls hair salon said she and her employees were pressured by corporate officials to sign an agreement that would nullify any future attempts to unionize the store.

Keri Gorder left her job at Cost Cutters, which was formerly Hair Masters, shortly after managers for Regis Corp. asked employees of the company to sign a “Protection of Secret Vote Agreement.”

The one-page agreement states in part that, “In order to preserve my right to a secret ballot election, and for my own protection, I knowingly and without restraint and free from coercion sign this agreement revoking and nullifying any union authorization card I may execute in the future.”

Gorder, who worked at the 10th Avenue South salon for eight years, said employees were called into a meeting earlier this month where managers played a video aimed at convincing them to resist unionizing.

“They were trying to scare the staff into signing that paper,” Gorder said. “I don’t feel like my staff or I should have signed it or should have had to sign it.”

Gorder said she was pressured by her boss days later to get her staff to sign the document.

“She said, ‘I would do what the company wants you to do,'” Gorder said.

A spokeswoman for Regis declined to comment for this story.

Ole Stimac, president of the Central Montana Central Labor Council, said the agreement is misleading and could violate the National Labor Relations Act.

“What it looks like they’re trying to do is get people to sign a waiver of their rights from now into eternity to ever organize a union. I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Stimac said.

The agreement states that union organizers could use authorization cards to strip employees’ right to a secret ballot election. It also states that Regis could use the signed agreement to disqualify a signatory’s vote in favor of forming a union.

Stimac called that language “laughable.”

“This whole thing is written in circles and has falsehoods in it. I don’t know why they would ever think that this could stand up in court,” Stimac said. “If a person could sign their rights away like this I would find it deeply troubling.”

For the full story, read Sunday’s Tribune.