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 […]






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 […]






“Poor Representation”

 Due to “poor representation,” the UFCW badly lost a decertification vote in California

Workers at Hiji Bros., Inc. and Seaview Growers Inc., both based in Oxnard, cast ballots to decertify and replace the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 with the UFW.

The vote came down to 111 for the UFW, 61 for UFCW Local 5 and 6 for no-union.

A petition to decertify the UFCW was filed with the farm labor board last week and signed by about 80 percent of the workers who complained about poor representation.

 Due to “poor representation,” the UFCW badly lost a decertification vote in California Workers at Hiji Bros., Inc. and Seaview Growers Inc., both based in Oxnard, cast ballots to decertify and replace the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 with the UFW. The vote came down to 111 for the UFW, 61 for UFCW […]






UFCW Official Tries to Kill Jobs

Peggy Vines, a UFCW vice president in Washington State, is trying to keep a new Winco grocery store from opening. Supposedly, the reason is due to traffic concerns. But, of course, the store is non-union, and this is the third proposed Winco store to be opposed by people connected with the UFCW. Winco is also employee-owned, but that’s not enough for Vines.

Peggy Vines, a UFCW vice president in Washington State, is trying to keep a new Winco grocery store from opening. Supposedly, the reason is due to traffic concerns. But, of course, the store is non-union, and this is the third proposed Winco store to be opposed by people connected with the UFCW. Winco is also […]