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Cheerleading Squad Claims Manager Tries To Quash Union

March 23, 1995

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ So much for team spirit. Newly unionized cheerleaders for the Buffalo Bills have filed a labor grievance saying their manager is trying to break up their union.

The Buffalo Jills, the first professional cheerleading squad to unionize, said manager Andrew Gerovac has effectively fired them by canceling public appearances, dismissing their choreographer and failing to notify current members about tryouts to choose next season’s cheerleaders.

The cheerleaders said Gerovac took those actions after the 35-member squad voted Feb. 23 to join the NFL Cheerleaders Association, which the Jills formed after winning a National Labor Relations Board ruling permitting them to unionize.

``The employer has constructively discharged every known association supporter,″ Jills attorney W. James Schwan said in an unfair labor practice charge the squad filed March 17 with the labor board.

Nancy Bates, union president, said the Jills unionized to get better pay and gain more control over where and when they perform. The Jills aren’t paid for cheering at Bills games, but they do hundreds of promotional appearances each year for which they can earn up to $25 an hour.

The Jills are not managed by the Bills, who discontinued sponsorship of the cheerleaders in the mid-1980s, when Gerovac took over. Gerovac is co-owner of a local fast-food chain that is the Jills’ main sponsor.

A secretary at Gerovac’s office said he was on vacation and could not be reached for comment Thursday. Gerovac’s attorney, Joseph Randazzo, did not return a telephone call.