The Little Dog Coffee Shop in Brunswick. Credit: Little Dog Coffee Shop

Employees at the Little Dog Coffee Shop in Brunswick are organizing to join the Workers United union, and believe that two of their colleagues were fired by the shop owner for supporting those efforts.

Workers United has now filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the shop’s owner violated labor laws when he terminated Autumn Flibotte and Joey Berube this week.

Berube says shop owner Larry Flaherty took him and another manager into an office one at a time and asked them if they had attended union meetings and signed union cards, and also asked which of the other employees had done so.

“We both were unclear, legally, if we had to answer these questions. Despite that, he said, ‘Yeah, you should answer these.’ He did have the awareness that I signed a card,” Berube says.

Co-worker Jess Czarnecki says those handling the union drive kept the two managers out of the organizing process to protect them.

“From the beginning we made sure that Joey or Autumn or the other manager weren’t talking to people to get them to sign cards,” Czarnecki said. “That would be bad. They never used their managerial power to get people to sign cards. That never happened.”

Shop owner Larry Flaherty says the allegation the employees were terminated for “union organizing” does not make sense as they were managers and ineligible for union inclusion. Flaherty said he would not violate their privacy by discussing specific circumstances related to their termination.

This story appears through a media partnership with  Maine Public.