Bradford Printing & Finishing CEO Nick Griseto talks about his willingness to work with unions to create a contract for his employees at the factory in Bradford, R.I., on Wednesday.
Now, Nick Griseto, the former BDA executive who kept the century-old business going, is hoping he's not the one who presides over its demise, a fate he says could result from management's bargaining impasse with a labor union he insists his production workers don't want.
"I'm being put into a position where I can't survive," the 54-year-old Griseto, Bradford's president and chief executive officer, said Wednesday in an interview at the plant.
"I can't continue to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal bills.
If (employees) want a union, I have no problem with it.
My proposal is on the table."
At this point, Griseto
has no choice but to negotiate.
In a decision that came down last week, the National Labor Relations Board
ruled that the company had "unlawfully refused to recognize and bargain with the incumbent union," the New England Joint Board/UNITE HERE.
A three-member panel upheld an administrative law judge who discounted a 2009 petition signed by employees who opposed continued union representation.
Judge Raymond Green, in his ruling last April, found the petition had been "tainted" by Griseto's "unlawful formation" of a "Guiding Coalition" - a group of managers and employees who were supposed to deal with labor matters at the plant.
Even before the decision, the NLRB's regional director in Boston sought an injunction against Griseto
in federal court in Rhode Island.
said the "well-thought-out" proposal he's
offered the union places the ball in the union's court, the union disagrees.
"The (NLRB) decision says he must recognize the union and bargain in good faith," Warren Pepicelli, the New England Joint Board's manager, said Wednesday, referring to Griseto.
The union has continued to file complaints against the company with the NLRB's
Boston office, even objecting to the "unilateral" way in which Griseto
granted employees a 10 percent raise around the first of the year.
Then, when delays in approving the defense budget held up apparel manufacturers' orders for fabric, Bradford's
business slowed "to a trickle," Griseto
said, forcing him to lay off 11 people.
kept the raises in place, he
said, but had to roll them back a couple of weeks later when he
laid off eight more workers.
"Our business is off 60 to 70 percent," Griseto
"We should be producing 25,000 yards of fabric a day, but we're down to 10,000 yards a day.
Up to the day of the flood (a year ago), we were making money."
Griseto walked a reporter through the cavernous, fire-scarred plant Wednesday, encouraging conversation with employees.