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Staples workers in Brunswick say an employee was fired for leading unionization drive

The Staples logo is displayed on the facade of a store, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in Manchester, N.H.
Charles Krupa
/
AP file
The Staples logo is displayed on the facade of a store, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in Manchester, N.H.

Employees at the Staples in Brunswick have filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the office supply store for what they believe is a retaliatory firing of a worker leading efforts to unionize.

Jay Wadleigh of the Machinists Union District 4 said the company cited timecard issues as the reason for the employee's firing.

"It's an effective tool that companies use," he said. "They fire who they think is leading the campaign, take some of the wind out of the sails and hopefully intimidate other people not to want to step up or be vocal about unionization."

The employees filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board earlier this summer to unionize under the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

The National Labor Relations Board will consider the workers' unfair labor practice complaint. The federal agency is also considering how many Staples employees at the store might be eligible to unionize. The Brunswick workers appear to be the first among Staples stores across the country to try to formally organize.

"It's scary being the first one," said Wadleigh, who acknowledged that other Maine workers who attempted to organize recently have seen their stores close. "There are other stores out there, Staples stores, that are interested in unionizing. But it takes a special group to say you know what, we're willing to put our neck out there."

Corporate representatives with Staples did not immediately return a request for comment.