Teen Files Federal Charges Against UFCW

Christopher Ratana-Kelley, a 16-year-old grocery store courtesy clerk from California, has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the UFCW. When he started his part-time job at the store, the union demanded that he pay union fees. He requested a breakdown of these fees, but the union allegedly refused to provide one as it is required to do.

[Due to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Beck case,] employees can only be forced to pay union dues for certain union activity. Employees also have the right to have an independent third party audit the union expenditures and certify that the percentage of dues that nonmembers are forced to pay does not include political spending and other non-collective bargaining expenses.

Why wouldn’t the UFCW respect this teenager’s rights and offer a justification for the fees it charges workers? Does it have something to hide? Perhaps the huge union figured that Christopher is just a kid, who doesn’t know his rights or wouldn’t know how to pursue a case against the union. Unfortunately for the UFCW, Christopher sought the help of the National Right to Work Foundation, and now the union gets to explain to the NLRB its apparent disregard for the rule of law.

 

Christopher Ratana-Kelley, a 16-year-old grocery store courtesy clerk from California, has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the UFCW. When he started his part-time job at the store, the union demanded that he pay union fees. He requested a breakdown of these fees, but the union allegedly refused to provide […]






Trump Moves to Protect Home Care Workers

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has proposed rolling back an Obama-Era regulation that allowed union dues to be deducted from Medicaid checks. If the proposed regulation takes effect, only deductions specifically allowed by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishments or child support payments, will be permissible. Of course, any caregivers who wish to join or stay in a union could still do so. They would just need to make arrangements to pay their dues, which could easily be done by authorizing the union to draft money from their bank account.

For years, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has skimmed money off of Medicaid checks sent to in-home personal care workers. Many of these people care for relatives or friends and did not want to join a union. In Minnesota, 27,000 caregivers were unionized after an election in which fewer than 6,000 voted and SEIU received less than 3,600 votes. Unsurprisingly, some had no idea when the unionization election was being held and were surprised when they noticed that money had been deducted from their Medicaid checks without their authorization. Of course, SEIU does little for these home health care providers: it does not negotiate their hours, breaks, or tasks, file grievances, etc.

To grow its membership, SEIU has been accused of very aggressive tactics from hassling caregivers and their patients to forging signatures on unionization cards. Home care workers who expressed no interest in supporting the union had organizers call repeatedly and show up at their homes to try to sell them on the union. Unfortunately, once SEIU succeeds in unionizing caregivers, it is very difficult to get rid of the union as some workers discovered. The difficulty of firing the union under the current system is one of the reasons why this proposed rule is so needed.

SEIU’s aggressive tactics and lobbying have paid off — for the union. According to one estimate, SEIU collects $200 million a year from 500,000 caregivers as a result of this scheme. To help put these figures in perspective, SEIU’s national headquarters reports that the union has over 1.9 million members and that the headquarters had revenues last year of nearly $315 million.

SEIU also has a history of fighting tooth-and-nail to keep collecting money from home care workers. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in the Harris v. Quinn case that home health care providers could not be forced to pay  agency fees to a union. SEIU has fought back aggressively by getting friendly state politicians to pass favorable laws. For example, some caregivers have been required to attend meetings with union representatives. In addition, when the Freedom Foundation launched a campaign to inform home care providers about their right to leave their union, SEIU lobbied for a change in the law to make it more difficult for the foundation to get the caregivers’ contact information. If SEIU were truly helping home care workers, then why has the union been so frantic to try to keep its members in the dark about their rights?

With so much money at stake, SEIU will no doubt do everything within its power to prevent this proposed rule from taking effect. If the rule does move forward, SEIU will work to generate thousands of comments opposing it. SEIU can also be expected to file a lawsuit to halt the rule and to work to elect more bought-and-paid-for politicians to rescind the rule should it take effect.

The Trump Administration’s proposed rule protecting Medicaid payments from unnecessary, and often unwanted, dues deductions is an important first step in the right direction. After all, taxpayers provide funds to pay caregivers to assist the elderly and disabled, not to fill the coffers of power-hungry unions. The sooner the rule is finalized and takes effect, the sooner these abuses of workers and taxpayers will end.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has proposed rolling back an Obama-Era regulation that allowed union dues to be deducted from Medicaid checks. If the proposed regulation takes effect, only deductions specifically allowed by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishments or child support […]






UFCW Donates Money to Harvard

According to the LM-2 form that the UFCW national headquarters filed with the US Department of Labor, the union gave $10,000 to Harvard University last year. Thanks to the dues money it collects from cashiers, baggers, clerks, bakers, and others from all across the country, the UFCW is rich.

Just how rich is the UFCW? It had revenues last year of over $288 million, had assets of over $292 million at the end of the year, and apparently could afford to pay its president a salary of more than $298,000. Furthermore, the UFCW has made political contributions of over $3.3 million this cycle and has spent over $600,000 on lobbying.

On the other hand, Harvard is filthy rich. Last year, the Ivy League school reported that it had an operating surplus of $114 million and assets of over $44 billion. Harvard also reported that it paid its president a salary of over $1.4 million in 2016.

So the question is, why would the UFCW think that Harvard needs thousands of dollars of its members’ money? Given the university’s immense wealth, surely a more worthwhile charity could be found — or the union could just stop wasting money and lower the cost of dues.

According to the LM-2 form that the UFCW national headquarters filed with the US Department of Labor, the union gave $10,000 to Harvard University last year. Thanks to the dues money it collects from cashiers, baggers, clerks, bakers, and others from all across the country, the UFCW is rich. Just how rich is the UFCW? It […]






On Janus, Some Cheer, Others Jeer at Supreme Court Decision

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court justices rules that public-sector workers could not be required to pay union “agency fees” as a condition of employment.

“The State’s extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public-sector employees violates the First Amendment,” the Court’s majority ruled. “Forcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable raises serious First Amendment concerns.”

Expectedly, labor unions and their allies on the Left are upset, calling the decision an “attack on working people.”

Mark Janus, the plaintiff in the case stated:

“I’m thrilled that the Supreme Court has restored not only my First Amendment rights, but the rights of millions of other government workers across the country. Across the country, so many of us have been forced to pay for political speech and policy positions with which we disagree, just so we can keep our jobs. This is a victory for all of us. The right to say ‘no’ to a union is just as important as the right to say ‘yes.’ Finally our rights have been restored.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision in Janus is a victory for the free speech of public employees everywhere, who will no longer be compelled to pay union dues should they choose not to,” stated Rick Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government. “Although this decision affected state and local public employees, the Trump administration should immediately remind federal employees of their liberty to opt out of union membership, providing them with the paperwork so that they can exercise their constitutional rights.”

For the full story, click here.

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court justices rules that public-sector workers could not be required to pay union “agency fees” as a condition of employment. “The State’s extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public-sector employees violates the First Amendment,” the […]






Is UFCW Leadership Just a Bad Boys Club?

And now Chris Lopez has his answer. Lopez, a UFCW member wrote an open letter to UFCW International President Marc Perrone pleading with him to fire or suspend Mickey Kasparian, a UFCW local president who has been accused of mistreating four Hispanic women. Kasparian is also a vice president in the UFCW International Union. In Perrone’s response to Lopez’s letter,  Perrone explains that he’s going to keep doing what he’s been doing about Kasparian’s scandal: nothing.

What are Perrone’s excuses? Perrone claims that the UFCW International Union doesn’t have the authority to “remove a local union president based on accusations made by others.” Perrone also tries to claim that the union’s hands are tied by federal law, which prohibits the use of union funds to help a particular candidate for union office. If that’s really the reason Perrone’s doing nothing, then what was his excuse last year when there was no election?

Perrone must think his members are stupid; his excuses just aren’t credible. If he truly wanted Kasparian gone, there are steps that he could take to get rid of him. After spending over three years as the UFCW International president, Perrone has to know that the UFCW International Union constitution lays out the process for suspending and removing a problematic officer (at Article 9, section G).

Whenever the activities of any member or officer of a chartered body involve, in the judgment of the International Executive Committee, an emergency situation injurious to the welfare or best interests of the International Union or a chartered body, the International Executive Committee is authorized to assume original jurisdiction in such matter… Under such circumstances, the International Executive Committee may suspend the person from membership or office, but it shall be required to accord such member or officer a hearing… Following such hearing, the International Executive Committee is authorized to take such disciplinary action as the circumstances warrant, including removal from office…

After over a year of embarrassing headlines, it seems that Kasparian’s scandals could reasonably be considered “an emergency situation injurious to the welfare or best interests of the International Union or a chartered body.” It should also be noted that the UFCW International Executive Committee only consists of five people, and Perrone is one of them. (The others are Esther Lopez, Paul Meinema, Stuart Appelbaum, and Shaun Barclay.) So if Perrone wanted to suspend or fire Kasparian, he’d only need two of the other four members of the executive committee to vote with him.

But even if the other members of the Executive Committee loved Kasparian and refused to lift a finger to remove him, there are still things that Perrone could do to try to get rid of him. For example, Perrone could publicly pressure his fellow Executive Committee members to take action. He could appoint a committee to investigate the women’s claims against Kasparian and release the committee’s report. He could publicly demand that Kasparian resign. He could search for a strong candidate to oppose Kasparian in the election, and he could campaign against Kasparian.

Perrone’s refusal to take any action raises questions. How is it that SEIU, once its sexual harassment scandal broke, was able to quickly get rid of several people accused of inappropriate behavior and the UFCW can’t do anything? (After all, the accusations against those SEIU officials were less serious than those against Kasparian.) What does Kasparian know that Perrone doesn’t want revealed? What has Kasparian done, what is he doing, or what has he promised to do to make Perrone so resistant to calling for Kasparian to resign? Could it be that the UFCW leadership is just a bad boys club?After well over a year of waiting, UFCW members deserve answers.

 

 

And now Chris Lopez has his answer. Lopez, a UFCW member wrote an open letter to UFCW International President Marc Perrone pleading with him to fire or suspend Mickey Kasparian, a UFCW local president who has been accused of mistreating four Hispanic women. Kasparian is also a vice president in the UFCW International Union. In Perrone’s response to […]






Are Dues Being Used to Pay Hush Money?

Earlier this year, UFCW boss Mickey Kasparian settled all of the lawsuits against him. The plaintiffs in those cases made several allegations, including sexual harassment, discrimination, and wrongful termination. All of the women involved worked for a union or an affiliated organization. Some of the claims were recent, and some of them were from a number of years ago.

The settlements were all reached secretly, and both Kasparian and the lawyer for the accusers have said that they can’t comment. This raises a number of questions:

  • Do the agreements prohibit the women from discussing the terms of the settlements?
  • How much were the accusers paid to settle the lawsuits?
  • Were any union funds used to pay these women?

Kasparian’s union, UFCW Local 135, is expected to hold elections this year. Well before the elections take place, UFCW members deserve to know whether or not any of their dues money was used to pay hush money to these women.

Earlier this year, UFCW boss Mickey Kasparian settled all of the lawsuits against him. The plaintiffs in those cases made several allegations, including sexual harassment, discrimination, and wrongful termination. All of the women involved worked for a union or an affiliated organization. Some of the claims were recent, and some of them were from a […]






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 […]