This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Last October Philadelphia School District food service workers and noon-time aides voted by a two-to-one margin to remain with UNITE HERE Local 634. The election was a consequence of the earlier split in the national union. The Philadelphia Joint Board, which affiliated with SEIU, sought to take control of the local, but their bid was rejected in a heated campaign.
The SEIU/Joint Board side filed an appeal with the the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board seeking to overturn the election results, charging UNITE HERE with illegal campaign practices. They also alleged the School District violated the law by favoring UNITE HERE.
In late March the PLRB rejected both these claims.
The hearing examiner said in his decision:
"The Joint Board has not proven any unfair practices. And even if there were unfair practices, as the Joint Board assert, the simple mathematics of the election results…lead to the inescapable conclusion that the election outcome would not be materially affected."
The examiner also ruled there was no evidence that the District knowingly allowed unfair campaign practices.
The decision clears the way for Local 634 to focus unimpeded on getting a contract and improving conditions for its members.