Archive for February, 2018

Workers Defeat UFCW

In recent years, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) has experienced a number of setbacks. Since 2001, the union has lost over 100,000 members. In addition to declining membership, the union has experienced unwanted press attention over the past few years. For example, after a 2015 indictment, UFCW’s organizing coordinator for the marijuana industry was sentenced to prison for fraud and other crimes late last year. Another UFCW boss, Mickey Kasparian, has been mired in a scandal involving sexual harassment and discrimination for over a year. In January, two officials at two different UFCW locals were indicted for crimes, including racketeering; both men are alleged to have had ties to the Mafia.

On February 7th, the UFCW suffered another setback. On that day, there was an ambush unionization election at a co-op grocery store in Northfield, Minnesota, a Democratic-leaning city about 40 miles south of Minneapolis. While the workers who supported unionization had the backing of UFCW Local 1189, the workers who opposed the union were on their own. The co-op’s management remained neutral; and no third-party organization intervened. In the end, however, the union’s opponents didn’t need help; they were able to defeat the UFCW — one of the largest and wealthiest unions in the country — with over 55% of the vote.

The secretive unionization effort began last summer, but it took until last month for the union to finally collect the 12 signatures that it needed for an election. Pathetically, the unionization campaign still resorted to using dishonest tactics to gather these few signatures. For example, some co-op employees were told that signing a union authorization card only meant that they wanted more information. (In actuality, signing such a card gives a union the right to represent an employee.) Co-op workers were also falsely told that over two-thirds of the staff had already signed the cards.

Many co-op employees were unaware of the UFCW’s campaign until the posting of the Notice of Petition for Election in January. There was no agreement among union supporters as to why exactly the store needed a union. Some workers wanted higher pay, while others claimed the co-op had engaged in unspecified unfair labor practices. The union organizer claimed the co-op was hiding money from its workers and could afford to pay them more. It’s unclear how she would know this.

Several co-op employees decided to fight the union. One of the union’s opponents, Bob N., managed to get a copy of the contract that the UFCW negotiated with a Minneapolis co-op grocery store. Bob posted this contract in his store’s break room. It turns out that the Northfield co-op’s wages and benefits were as good as — and in some ways better than — the compensation package that the UFCW had negotiated with the co-op in the much larger city. Of course, unlike the employees of the Minneapolis store, the workers at the Northfield store don’t have to pay union dues. Bob also wrote several newsletters and put up a number of posts from the UFCWMonitor.com, a blog that chronicles the activities of the union, for his co-workers to read.

Although the UFCW had the advantage of both time and resources, it still lost the ambush election. It appears the UFCW would like to try to unionize the Northfield co-op again next year. The good news is that next time, the union’s opponents will have had an entire year to prepare for the election, rather than less than three weeks. Bob and his co-workers who opposed the UFCW are a great example of how regular people, with very little time to organize, can still defeat a powerful union when they’re armed with the facts.

 

 

 

In recent years, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) has experienced a number of setbacks. Since 2001, the union has lost over 100,000 members. In addition to declining membership, the union has experienced unwanted press attention over the past few years. For example, after a 2015 indictment, UFCW’s organizing coordinator for the marijuana industry […]






Dishonest Unionization Attempt Defeated

Bob N., who works at a co-op grocery store in Northfield, Minnesota, reports that UFCW Local 1189 was defeated earlier this month in the unionization election at his co-op. The secretive unionization effort began last summer, but it was not until last month that the union finally collected the 12 signatures it needed to call for an election.

To gather these signatures, the unionization campaign had to resort to dishonest tactics. For example, some co-op employees were told that signing the union authorization card only meant that they wanted more information. Workers were also falsely told that over two-thirds of the staff had already signed the cards.

Many co-op employees were unaware of the effort until the posting of the election petition. There was no agreement as to why exactly a union was needed. Some workers wanted higher pay, while others claimed the co-op had engaged in unspecified unfair labor practices. The union organizer claimed the co-op was hiding money from its workers and could afford to pay them more. How she would know this is unclear.

Bob managed to get a copy of the contract that the UFCW negotiated with a Minneapolis co-op grocery store, which he posted in the break room of his store. It turns out that the Northfield co-op’s compensation package was as good as — and in some ways better than — the deal the UFCW negotiated with the co-op in the much larger city. Of course, unlike the employees of the Minneapolis store, the workers at the Northfield store don’t have to pay union dues. Bob also wrote several newsletters and put up a number of UFCW Monitor posts for his co-workers to read.

It appears the UFCW would like to try to unionize Bob’s store again next year; but this time, he’ll have a lot more time to prepare for the election.

 

Bob N., who works at a co-op grocery store in Northfield, Minnesota, reports that UFCW Local 1189 was defeated earlier this month in the unionization election at his co-op. The secretive unionization effort began last summer, but it was not until last month that the union finally collected the 12 signatures it needed to call […]






Union Members Suing UFCW

A federal appeals court agreed to hear a case brought by two UFCW members in Michigan, a state that enacted Right to Work legislation several years ago. In the summer of 2016, the two part-time grocery store workers attempted to exercise their rights to quit their union and end the automatic dues deductions from their paychecks. Outrageously, the union refused to stop taking the workers’ money claiming that their resignation letters didn’t arrive within an arbitrary time frame; the union also claimed that the workers didn’t send their letters by certified mail. So the workers filed a class action lawsuit against the UFCW in federal court in late 2016.

What kind of reputable organization does business this way? If you can join the union at any time, you should be able to leave it at any time. If the UFCW offered its members more value, maybe it wouldn’t have to go to such pathetic lengths to keep collecting union dues.

Hopefully, the courts will soon put an end to these games that union bosses like to play. But until the Supreme Court rules, the UFCW will likely keep wasting its members’ money fighting these cases.

A federal appeals court agreed to hear a case brought by two UFCW members in Michigan, a state that enacted Right to Work legislation several years ago. In the summer of 2016, the two part-time grocery store workers attempted to exercise their rights to quit their union and end the automatic dues deductions from their […]