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Brunswick Staples accused of firing employee for trying to form union

Employees at the Brunswick Staples would form the company's first union in the county, if successful.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — A man from Maine has accused the office supply retailer Staples of firing him after he tried to form a union at the company's Brunswick location. 

"I think it's disgusting a company would do this over Labor Day weekend," Jay Wadleigh, the Machinists Union's directing business representative for District 4, said about the employee's firing.

Wadleigh's union represents the Staples employees trying to form a union of their own. He said the worker who was fired wants to stay anonymous and fears retaliation from his former employer.  

"It seems like a typical thing companies do to try to head off a campaign—scare the other employees," he added. "The person that got fired was one of the lead organizers in that campaign."

The former employee told NEWS CENTER Maine, "[Staples} has falsely accused me of breaking policy… It's truly in retaliation. They knew I was supportive of a union… I'd like to get my job back and for the union to go through so we can make not just a livable wage, but a fair wage." 

It's just the latest in a wave of union efforts in Maine. Just this summer, Little Dog Café, also in Brunswick, shut down following a strike. Before that, a Chipotle location in Augusta closed after workers petitioned for a union election. And last November, a Portland Starbucks ended operations when employees successfully voted to unionize. 

Wadleigh said they have filed an unfair labor charge protesting the firing with the National Labor Relations Board.

"The board's been strict on companies that pull these sorts of tactics, and I think there's a good chance he'll get his job back and with back pay."

If workers are successful in Brunswick, it would be Staples' first union in the country.

NEWS CENTER Maine reached out to Staples multiple times for comment but has not received a response. 

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