Ralph Malicki sighed with relief Thursday when he was told the National Labor Relations Board decided in his favor over a labor dispute with a union.
The disagreement stems from a complaint filed by United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1473 with the NLRB saying Piggly Wiggly Midwest deliberately sold the stores on Erie Street and Washington Avenue to break up the unions at those stores. Doing so is typically called "alter ego," but Piggly Wiggly and Malicki have long maintained the franchises were straight-forward business deals.
Malicki owns the Washington Avenue location and employs around 100 people. He's happy to put the ruling behind him so he can concentrate on what's really important.
"I'm glad the ruling is behind us and we can focus on what we hope will be the best grocery store in town," he said. "We're looking forward to focusing solely on being the best so we can go head-to-head with the proposed Walmart."
Peter Mayer, Malicki's attorney, said the key is that the union's alter ego allegations were unfounded, and the NLRB reached the same conclusion. He said Malicki is a businessman happy to back in his hometown.
"Ralph is hard-working and helpful to the community here," Mayer said. "He feels blessed to be back in the area and trying to get out of having anything to do with a union was never part of his reasons for buying the store. It was an honest business deal, and the NLRB sees that, too."
Mayer did say he has yet to receive a copy of the opinion, but was given verbal confirmation that the decision went in Malicki's favor.
Still the NLRB did find some merit to one point of the union's case, namely, that Piggly Wiggly Midwest has to work with the unions on how turning two company stores into franchises effects the employees at those locations. Piggly Wiggly has to act quickly or risk owing more than the two weeks of back pay if there are delays. About 250 employees from the Racine area fall under this ruling.