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Piggly Wiggly Washington Avenue Wins Labor 'Alter Ego' Dispute

The National Labor Relations Board Thursday decided against the union who said Piggly Wiggly Midwest deliberately spun off two stores to disband the unions at those stores.

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.

Tim Scott March 23, 2012 at 12:55 PM
I'm looking forward to the day when we can put the Recall behind us and get on with the job of reclaiming Wisconsin for the Taxpayers, Senior Citizens and private businesses. FORWARD! With ending the tyranny of public employee unions and starting to privatize public services, introducing competition to the market. Time to end huge, unresponsive Corporations like RUSD, and make many government agencies FORMER government agencies and let them stand on their own instead of sucking on the teat of the productive. OK whiners, gold-plated boat anchors, and Huff-Po Professional posters - FIRE AWAY!
upset father March 23, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Way to go Ralph . I'm so happy for you . I will see you when I go shopping next week . And yes you do have one of the best grocery stores in racine . And the people you have working for you are top notch . Thanks for the excellent service .
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) March 23, 2012 at 01:06 PM
@Tim - this was about private unions, not public. Let's stay on topic, shall we?
Tim Scott March 23, 2012 at 01:18 PM
OK. My suggestion is that the employees band together, take the steps necessary to open their own employee owned store, and then they can all make what they really are worth. The sky is the limit then - right? Big pay, big benefits, big retirements - just like the public sector. They do have one small problem however, what if no one wants to pay $10/loaf of bread? They simply don't have the taxing authority of public employees or the ability to FORCE someone, under the threat of property confiscation to buy that $10/loaf of bread. MY suggestion: Contact Corey Mason and have him either set the price of bread at $10/loaf, or mandate it that people must shop there. OK?
GearHead March 23, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Another union bites the dust. And the sky still isn't falling. How can that be???
Tim Scott March 23, 2012 at 04:25 PM
YEAH. What a sad day. They are now all free to work somewhere else, or even for themselves, so they can make what they are really worth. Why didn't the employees just offer to buy Ralph out? Owner/Operators. Sounds like a win-win. There is a former grocery store in West Racine that is for sale - no surrounding competition. John Dickert is pretty desperate - they should hit him up and make a deal. I wonder why no one wants to buy that former store and re-open a grocery there? You know, I think employees trying to tell the so-called owner, Ralph Malicki, how to run his store could mean that the employees alter-ego is that of owner. HEY - if that is true - let them pay the bills and property taxes, and take all the liability.
upset father March 24, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Tim he is the owner . He is actually a great guy . Why don't you go there and ask the people that are working how he is as a boss . You will be amazed every one I ask said nothing buy great things about him . The employees could have bought the store . It was no big secret that they were going to sell the location that they did . So maybe you should do your home work before you open your mouth . Don't villafy some one for being successful . Your beef should be with the piggly wiggly corp . Obviously you to blinded by your union loyalty ( stupidity) to realise it .
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) February 02, 2013 at 04:53 PM
@SporkBot - I deleted your comment because it is a personal attack that violates our Terms of Service.
SporkBot February 16, 2013 at 02:12 PM
It is truth. I think people have a right to know that he's never been all that respectful of employees, particularly those with little time to do a great deal of work (oftentimes alone). He's jumped to conclusions so badly that it borders on outright lying, and in my experience never gave much thought to the side of the story opposite his own. "upset father" told another commentor to "ask the people that are working" at his store, how he is as a manager (after praising Ralph). So, as a former employee, I offered insight as to the type of manager Ralph proved himself to be. He was not respectful, he was not terribly kind, and he possessed no true leadership qualities. He *was*, however, very condescending, belligerant, and disrespectful. If you want the comments to be nothing but smiles and sunshine, that's fine, but it's going to leave out a lot of truths, ugly though they may be. If you want to delete this comment as well, you can go right ahead, if you feel it necessary. However, understand that doing so is not only inhibiting free speech (what with one side being silenced and all), but pretty much telling me my experience counts for nothing. It's like telling someone who got cut and needed stitches, that they don't know what it's like to lose any blood. "upset father" also lobbed a personal attack at the closing of his comment. Should you not delete that as well?

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