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NLRB rejects agency’s objections to employees’ vote to unionize

A hearing officer with the National Labor Relations Board’s Boston office has recommended that all objections filed by Citizens League for Adult Special Services Inc. regarding an employee vote to unionize be overruled.

Megan M. Millar, in a report dated July 26, recommended that the NLRB recognize the Service Employees International Union as the representative union for Citizens League employees.

According to Scott F. Burson, deputy regional attorney at the NLRB, the nonprofit agency has until 5 p.m. Friday to file an exception to the hearing officer’s report with the NLRB’s Washington office.


“We are disappointed with the decision and findings of the NLRB,” CLASS president and chief executive officer Robert A. Harris said in an e-mail. CLASS is appealing the NLRB decision based on interference by union organizers with the way the election was conducted, Harris added.

“No matter how this finally resolves itself, I intend to lead an agency that is committed to teamwork and delivering the best possible services to the individuals who look to us for support, encouragement, and opportunities to grow,” Harris said.

CLASS, headquartered in Lawrence and with a transportation facility in North Andover and an office in North Reading, provides clinical support, education, and job training to individuals with disabilities.

The hearing officer’s findings were based on evidence presented during a two-day hearing, held June 27 and 28, regarding the May 29 vote by employees to unionize. In all, 95 ballots were cast: 48 in favor of joining Local 509 of the SEIU and 46 against, NLRB records show. One ballot was challenged and was not included in the final count.

CLASS objected to the election results on June 5, citing the conduct of representatives of the SEIU, including that employees had to thread through a group of union supporters on their way to vote; that the union posted a Twitter message during the election that it already had won; and that union representatives at a May 16 picket at the Lawrence headquarters threatened and harassed the agency’s workers.


“The NLRB findings clearly and formally articulate CLASS workers’ view that the objections . . . were frivolous and without merit,” Jason Stephany, spokesman for Local 509, said in an e-mail. He called on Harris to negotiate with the union in good faith.

The union is awaiting hearings on charges it filed with the NLRB alleging CLASS engaged in unfair labor practices, including disciplining and/or discharging workers known or perceived to have voted in support of the union.

Harris disputed the charges, stating that the workers were terminated according to the agency’s policies and the policies of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, in accordance with state regulations. According to Harris, the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission “reviewed our findings and supported our decision.”

Brenda J. Buote may be reached at brenda.buote@gmail.com.