Growth At Any Cost

United Food and Commercial Workers Union president Joe Hansen has set a goal of more than doubling his union’s membership.1 Hansen said that he wants the UFCW to be more proactive and aggressive in recruiting members.2

It’s hard to imagine the UFCW being “more” aggressive. Hansen’s hardball tactics have already tested the boundaries of legality. For example, the UFCW allegedly planted out of date baby formula on the shelves of a grocery chain the union was trying to organize, placing children in danger.3 That same employer was accused of being racist and discriminating against minorities. The UFCW was also accused of illegal activities while trying to force their union into Smithfield Foods.5 Another employer was accused of selling liquor to children in an attempt to stifle their business.

The UFCW’s strategy is to tarnish a business’s reputation while costing them so much money that they either succumb to union pressure or go out of business. The goal is to force the company to agree to card check organizing without a secret ballot combined with a neutrality agreement.6

Companies have had to resort to legal intervention, and in some cases restraining orders, to stop UFCW attacks on their reputation and their workers, disruption of business relationships, and attempted sabotage of stock prices.7

In an effort to rapidly expand its membership, the UFCW has engaged in potentially criminal behavior designed to force companies to submit to their will. Hard to believe Hansen wants to be “more aggressive.”


1 Elliot Zwiebach, “Hansen Sets 3 Million Membership Goal for UFCW,” Supermarket News, 9/1/08
2 Thomas Lee, “New Grocery Union President Vows Aggressive Campaigns,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, 3/6/04
3 Mike Sunnucks, “Bashas’ Sues For Defamation,” Phoenix Business Journal, 12/18/07; Complaint, Smithfield Foods, Inc and Smithfield Packaging Company vs. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Civil Action 3:07 CV641, Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 10/17/07
4 Venita Jenkins, “Smithfield Workers Approve Union,” The Fayette Observer, 12/08/07
5 Complaint, Smithfield Foods, Inc and Smithfield Packaging Company vs. United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Civil Action 3:07 CV641, Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 10/17/07
6 Chris Flores, “Smithfield Foods, Union Tactics Questioned,” Newport News Daily Press, 10/21/07
7 Cathryn Creno, “Bashas’ Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Union, Others,” The Arizona Republic, 12/18/07; Philip Walzer, “Pork Producer’s Racketeering Case Against Union Begins Monday,” The Virginian Pilot, 10/26/08