Losing Faith in the UFCW

A Colorado man, who tried to unionize his employer, has lost faith in the UFCW. Last year, Matt Hobson was employed at a marijuana shop and was dissatisfied with the working conditions so he contacted the UFCW. His employer subsequently fired him, and the UFCW lost the certification election. Among others, he blames union organizers for the election loss.

“I went into the entire matter thinking that the union was the last bastion of worker protection and that we would have the security and muscle of the union behind us,” he recalls. But thinking that, he says now, was a big mistake…

Hobson says the UFCW Local 7 organizers who had helped him begin organizing largely lost interest after he was fired, doing very little to assist him in finding a new job. Instead, they appeared keen on having him try to return to his old position, despite the fact that he no longer felt comfortable there. “They wanted me to go back to that horrible environment to try to hand them a victory,” he says…

“‘Maybes’ and ‘no promises’ … are the only things that the union seems to offer in abundance.”

… “At this point,” he says, “I trust the UFCW about as much as the cannabis industry.”

Since he was fired, he’s hardly worked.

A Colorado man, who tried to unionize his employer, has lost faith in the UFCW. Last year, Matt Hobson was employed at a marijuana shop and was dissatisfied with the working conditions so he contacted the UFCW. His employer subsequently fired him, and the UFCW lost the certification election. Among others, he blames union organizers […]






UFCW-Backed Group Uses Hurricane to Fundraise

The UFCW has given over thousands of dollars to the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund, a liberal group looking “to organize low-income communities of color.” After Hurricane Harvey struck, the organization saw an opportunity to vacuum up relief funds from donors. One of the services it planned to provide to hurricane victims was “advocacy.” But while it was raising money, it claimed not to know exactly how it was going to spend the money and said it wouldn’t know “until after the floods recede.”

It all seems just a bit shady. If this group really wants to raise money to launch angry protests against businesses or governments struggling to deal with a massive disaster, then why not just be upfront about it? Maybe because they’re worried it would hurt fundraising.

In the future, if some random group you’ve never heard of is suddenly interested in doing relief work after a natural disaster, you might just want to steer clear of them and give your money elsewhere.

 

The UFCW has given over thousands of dollars to the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund, a liberal group looking “to organize low-income communities of color.” After Hurricane Harvey struck, the organization saw an opportunity to vacuum up relief funds from donors. One of the services it planned to provide to hurricane victims was “advocacy.” But while […]






Large Newspaper Slams UFCW’s Bill

The Sacramento Bee, one of the largest newspapers in California, recently slammed a bill being pushed by the UFCW. The bill is aimed at meal kit preparers, like Blue Apron, although apparently the law would not apply to that particular company.  The paper’s editorial board called the legislation a “special interest bill” and included it in a list of bills that “ought to die.” The board went on to write, “If additional regulation is warranted, public health experts, not labor, should seek it. AB 1461 would add regulation, without providing clear benefits to consumers.”

The R Street Institute wrote the following about the bill.

The stated goal of the legislation is to require the people who work for these meal-delivery services to get a “food handler” card requiring them to attend some training sessions. It sounds innocuous, but the broader result is to provide unions with the names and contact information of these workers, so they can be contacted about joining a union. Once a union has a foothold, it can insist on old-school work rules that undermine this newfangled business model…

If you still think this about food safety, consider that grocery workers who cut meats and fresh seafood remain exempt from these food-handling-card requirements, as do food handlers who work under a collective-bargaining agreement.

The Sacramento Bee, one of the largest newspapers in California, recently slammed a bill being pushed by the UFCW. The bill is aimed at meal kit preparers, like Blue Apron, although apparently the law would not apply to that particular company.  The paper’s editorial board called the legislation a “special interest bill” and included it in […]






Owner Blames UFCW for Store Closing

A Minnesota grocery store, which has 40 employees, is set to close. The owner cites the UFCW as one of the causes for the store’s closing. The store’s closing will be a real loss to the community due to its convenience, its affordable prices, and its selection. Soon, the store’s low- and moderate-income customers may have to travel further by car or bus to purchase groceries, especially some hard-to-find ethnic products that the grocery store carries.

[Store owner Gary] Cooper said he felt “clobbered by all sides” — local government, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189, and even his beloved but declining customer base.

“I always thought I had a good relationship with the unions,” he said. “In negotiating with the union, we haven’t really gotten a contract and we’ve had some extensions.”

The new sick-leave mandate also hurt, he said.

“If you look at (the city of St. Paul’s) sick-leave mandate, frankly there’s some things I found pretty upsetting, like the record-keeping,” Cooper added. “I guess I kind of feel underappreciated.

 

A Minnesota grocery store, which has 40 employees, is set to close. The owner cites the UFCW as one of the causes for the store’s closing. The store’s closing will be a real loss to the community due to its convenience, its affordable prices, and its selection. Soon, the store’s low- and moderate-income customers may have to […]






A Millennial’s View of UFCW Membership

A young UFCW member, who works at a grocery store, explains the downsides of union membership.

Unions cost money to run, and unless you live in a right-to-work state, there is no way you can opt-out of paying dues if you have a unionized workplace.

Every week, about an hour’s worth of pay is taken out of my paycheck to cover my mandatory union dues. If you only work 20 hours, since most service industry jobs are part time, dues can be a whole 5 percent of your paycheck, on top of taxes.

If your union workplace operates on fixed pay schedules based on how long you have been employed, like mine does, that means that no matter how hard you work, you will always make less money than people who have been there longer, even if you are more productive and do a better job. This becomes even more frustrating when you end up being saddled with more work to make up for the bad employees who can’t be fired. (When the grocery store chain I work at tried to give some merit-based raises to hard-working employees, the UFCW sued to stop it.)

 

A young UFCW member, who works at a grocery store, explains the downsides of union membership. Unions cost money to run, and unless you live in a right-to-work state, there is no way you can opt-out of paying dues if you have a unionized workplace. Every week, about an hour’s worth of pay is taken out […]






Union Foolishly Persists, Wasting Time and Resources

In 2011, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and its co-conspirators started invading Maryland Walmart stores and harassing customers and staff. Perhaps the UFCW thought it could get away with its outrageous behavior in a union-friendly state or that the federal courts would weigh in on its behalf. But, either way, it was in for a series of surprises.

The UFCW claims that it launched this campaign of harassment to improve working conditions for Walmart employees and that it does not wish to represent Walmart workers itself. Of course, since the UFCW is at least as honest as any unscrupulous used car salesman, its claims may or may not be accurate.

During this campaign, which went on for several years, the UFCW would assemble “flash mobs” to block traffic, block check-out lanes, sing, dance, scream, use bullhorns indoors, litter, confront managers, force their way into management meetings, etc. UFCW protesters would then refuse to leave as they were instructed to do by Walmart managers. The police would be called, and they would order the protesters to leave.

In response to this harassment, Walmart lawyers repeatedly sent cease and desist letters to the UFCW; and the union stubbornly refused to honor them. So, in March of 2013, Walmart filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the union of coercing Walmart employees to join the union.

In September of 2013, Walmart filed a lawsuit against the UFCW for trespassing and nuisance in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County. The UFCW filed a motion to dismiss the case, which was denied. Walmart requested a preliminary injunction preventing the union from trespassing on company property; the UFCW argued that the state’s trespassing law was preempted by federal labor law. Rejecting the union’s argument, the court issued a preliminary injunction just before Black Friday in 2013 and a permanent injunction in early 2015.

The permanent injunction prohibited UFCW from entering Walmart property in Maryland for the purpose of “picketing, patrolling, parading, demonstrations, chanting, ‘flash mobs,’ handbilling, solicitation, customer disruptions, manager delegations or confrontations, or associate engagement for a non-shopping purpose.” The injunction also prohibited

“Interfering with, obstructing or blocking Walmart’s and its customers’ access to, and use of, easements and/or right-of-ways granted by  Walmart across or upon apron sidewalks and parking lots adjacent to stores for which Walmart has a “building only” lease; and engaging in any nuisance conduct off Walmart’s private property which disrupts and/or interferes with Walmart customers’ or associates’ access to, or ability to move around or exit, Walmart private property…”

Hoping for a more favorable ruling, the UFCW appealed the circuit court’s decision to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. That court unanimously affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

Still not able to accept that it was wrong, the UFCW appealed to the highest court in the state, the Court of Appeals. Late last month, the court handed down its decision. Once again, the UFCW’s arguments were found to be without merit, and the Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the ruling of the Court of Special Appeals. In other words, the UFCW’s lawyers could not persuade even one of the seven judges on the Court of Appeals – whether appointed by a Republican or a Democrat – to side with the union.

For over three years, the UFCW spent its members’ money paying lawyers to fight a losing battle with Walmart in Maryland courts, and the union has absolutely nothing to show for it. Of course, the union tried its shenanigans at Walmart stores in a number of other states. And judges from California to Ohio to Florida also told the UFCW to stop trespassing on Walmart property.

Throughout its fight with Walmart, the UFCW has behaved shamefully: trespassing; harassing customers, employees, and management; ignoring cease and desist letters; and then defending its outrageous behavior year after year in the courts. It’s time for the UFCW to learn and follow the law, and stop wasting its members’ money – along with taxpayers’ money – on frivolous litigation.

In 2011, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and its co-conspirators started invading Maryland Walmart stores and harassing customers and staff. Perhaps the UFCW thought it could get away with its outrageous behavior in a union-friendly state or that the federal courts would weigh in on its behalf. But, either way, it […]






Why Doesn’t the UFCW Respect Women?

Since last year, Mickey Kasparian, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135, and his lackeys have been accused of discrimination and/or mistreatment by not one, not two, not three, but four Hispanic women. Three of these four accusers worked directly for the UFCW; a fourth works for a UFCW-funded organization.

Last December, Sandy Naranjo, a UFCW organizer, filed a lawsuit against UFCW Local 135 alleging gender discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination. This was a shocking turn of events, given the fact that she had previously viewed her job as a “dream job.” In her lawsuit, she alleges that “Kasparian created a work environment that was particularly hostile toward women.” Kasparian had fired this woman shortly before Christmas — while she was recovering from a work-related car accident.

As bad as those allegations are, the most troubling allegations are from Isabel Vasquez who filed a lawsuit against Kasparian and UFCW Local 135 for sexual harassment just a few days before Christmas last year. She claims that Kasparian repeatedly demanded that she have sexual relations with him. At one point, a co-worker interrupted one of these sexual acts, but nothing was done, and the harassment continued. Last year, after more than a decade of abuse, she decided to retire early from the UFCW. In her lawsuit, she further alleges that Kasparian sexually harassed another woman in 2011. After this woman’s husband found out about the harassment and beat up Kasparian, she too was fired.

In February, a local paper called on Kasparian to step down. At an anti-Kasparian protest that month, another woman who had worked for the UFCW for nearly a decade accused Kasparian of making “everybody [in the office] feel fearful of losing their jobs.”

After expressing support for Vasquez, Anabel Arauz, a UFCW organizer, was fired in March of this year. The following month, she also filed a lawsuit against UFCW Local 135 and Kasparian alleging discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. In her lawsuit, she referred to the union and Kasparian’s “demonstrated animus, bias, and discriminatory intent/conduct against women.”

Also in March – Women’s History Month – Nohelia Ramos Campos filed a complaint against the San Diego chapter of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), which is funded by the UFCW. In her complaint, she accused her employer of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Specifically, she alleged that a superior pressured her to support Kasparian and mentioned that Kasparian had threatened the UFCW’s funding of ACCE over her comments on social media in support of Kasparian’s accusers.

While serving as the president of UFCW Local 135, Kasparian was also the president of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, a group of local unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO. In May, Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, ordered the removal of Kasparian from the leadership of the labor council and placed the organization into receivership.

While one might guess that Kasparian would have taken his removal from the labor council presidency as a sign that it was time for him to resign from the leadership of his union, that was certainly not the case. Instead, the shameless Kasparian announced the creation of a rival labor council the day after his removal; this new labor council’s membership included SEIU Local 221 and several other unions. And through it all, the local Democrat Party leadership has continued to support Kasparian.

All of which leads to one question: how many more women will have to speak out about their mistreatment by Kasparian before the UFCW and its allies start taking women seriously?

Since last year, Mickey Kasparian, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135, and his lackeys have been accused of discrimination and/or mistreatment by not one, not two, not three, but four Hispanic women. Three of these four accusers worked directly for the UFCW; a fourth works for a UFCW-funded organization. Last […]