The National Labor Relations Board has charged Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarkets Inc. with violating federal law by allegedly threatening, intimidating, interrogating and coercing its workers to try to discourage them from forming a union.
Marsh is also accused of illegally firing an employee for supporting the union, the NLRB said in a statement released late Thursday.
The grocer vehemently denies the charges. “As the process continues we remain confident that in the end these allegations will be found to be without merit,” said Dave Redden, Marsh EVP of human resources. “As a company, we are very proud of the fair and open environment that has been a hallmark of our relationship with our associates for nearly 80 years. We have always respected and abided by the rules established by the National Labor Relations Board and any other governmental agency concerning employment matters.”
After investigating unfair labor practice charges filed by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 700 earlier this year, the NLRB found evidence that Marsh management engaged in illegal tactics to prevent workers from unionizing. The labor board has charged Marsh management with placing workers under surveillance; interrogating employees about their union activities and activities of their coworkers; prohibiting workers from union talk at work; interfering with, restraining and coercing employees in the exercise of their rights; and firing an employee because of his support of the union.
The federal charges are the latest in a series of developments that the NLRB said show deteriorating working conditions at Marsh stores since 2006, when the company was purchased by Sun Capital Partners Inc., a private-equity group based in Boca Raton, Fla. The NLRB is continuing its investigation into additional unfair labor practice charges filed against Marsh this year, in connection with a union election at its supermarket in the Indianapolis suburb of Beech Grove.
The NLRB has scheduled a hearing on the charges for Feb. 16.