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 […]






Are UFCW Dues Going to the Mafia?

Recently, two UFCW bosses were indicted on serious charges. Frank Cognetta, the secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 1D, was charged with racketeering and soliciting and accepting bribes. He is accused of putting millions of dollars’ worth of UFCW funds — from employee benefit, medical insurance, and disability plans — into annuities in exchange for kickbacks. According to Bloomberg BNA, Cognetta’s indictment alleges that he received nearly $500,000 in kickbacks.

Vincent D’Acunto, Jr.,  the secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 2D, was charged with racketeering and extortion. He’s accused of conspiring to extort annual cash payments from another UFCW officer “by threatening the officer with violence and the loss of the officer’s job.” Prosecutors allege that Cognetta and D’Acunto and their co-defendants were “members and associates of the Genovese Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra… also known as the ‘Mob’ or the ‘Mafia.'”

Altogether, Cognetta was charged with nine counts: one count of racketeering, three counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud, and two counts of bribery. It’s alleged that this long-running conspiracy began in or about 2001. If found guilty on all of these charges, Cognetta could be sentenced to over 120 years in prison. D’Acunto was charged with one count of racketeering and one count of extortion; if convicted on both counts, he could be sentenced to 40 years in prison.

 

 

 

Recently, two UFCW bosses were indicted on serious charges. Frank Cognetta, the secretary-treasurer of UFCW Local 1D, was charged with racketeering and soliciting and accepting bribes. He is accused of putting millions of dollars’ worth of UFCW funds — from employee benefit, medical insurance, and disability plans — into annuities in exchange for kickbacks. According to Bloomberg […]






4th Woman Accuses UFCW Boss

A fourth woman has stepped forward to accuse UFCW boss Mickey Kasparian of sexual harassment. The latest accuser is a county government employee, an SEIU union member, and a former SEIU executive committee member. As with the others who have accused Kasparian of sexual harassment, she too is a Latina.

According to her complaint, he sexually assaulted her several times between 2014 and 2016.  More specifically, she accuses him of repeatedly groping her and even pinning her down on a couch in his office at one point. In her lawsuit, she asserts that “Kasparian’s conduct was vile and despicable, and he acted with malice, oppression, fraud in conscious disregard of [her] rights and well-being” and that she “sustained … emotional distress, anxiety, humiliation and mental suffering” due to his actions.

During a recent deposition, she even expressed a fear of Kasparian — fearing both for her career and her personal safety. This is quite a reversal for a woman who once admired the union boss.

After more than a year, this scandal still shows no sign of dying down. How much longer will the UFCW continue to stand by its scandal-plagued man, Mickey Kasparian?

A fourth woman has stepped forward to accuse UFCW boss Mickey Kasparian of sexual harassment. The latest accuser is a county government employee, an SEIU union member, and a former SEIU executive committee member. As with the others who have accused Kasparian of sexual harassment, she too is a Latina. According to her complaint, he […]






Did A UFCW Boss Commit Perjury?

Last year, UFCW boss Mickey Kasparian was sued by a former union employee. The former employee, who is a Latino woman, has accused Kasparian of coercing her into having sex with him. Due to these allegations, he was deposed for two hours this past summer. Details of that deposition have now leaked.

During his deposition, which he attended with three lawyers, Kasparian was repeatedly asked if he had propositioned a particular female employee. Each time, Kasparian denied it. He also claimed not to know why the woman’s husband attacked him. Kasparian also denied making disparaging remarks about a local politician and a grocery industry employee, both of whom are female. Of course, his denials conflict with the claims of his accusers.

Kasparian is hoping to have this case thrown out on a technicality next year due to the fact that the allegations were more than two years old when they were filed. Additionally, he hopes to have a second case against him dismissed. In that case, another Latino woman accuses Kasparian of gender discrimination and wrongful termination.

Depositions for a third case against Kasparian’s union are currently taking place. The plaintiff in that case is also a Latino woman; she alleges that the union engaged in gender discrimination and retaliation and wrongful terminated her.

At what point is the UFCW finally going to decide that there are just too many scandals swirling around Kasparian and show him the door?

Last year, UFCW boss Mickey Kasparian was sued by a former union employee. The former employee, who is a Latino woman, has accused Kasparian of coercing her into having sex with him. Due to these allegations, he was deposed for two hours this past summer. Details of that deposition have now leaked. During his deposition, […]






Corrupt UFCW Boss Sentenced

Daniel Rush, a former UFCW boss, was fined and sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for fraud and other crimes. Rush was the UFCW’s organizing coordinator for the marijuana industry. Several years ago, he was appointed to a local marijuana regulatory board; while in that role, he demanded a job from an applicant for a marijuana store permit. He also requested a $600,000 loan from a marijuana store owner, which he received. In lieu of full repayment of the loan, Rush offered to sabotage the unionization efforts at the marijuana stores belonging to the store owner and his business partner.

Of course, this will not be Rush’s first stint in prison. He was previously jailed for shooting a police officer in the eye during a strike. More recently, he hung out with bikers from the Hells Angels — even paying their cell phone bills — and declared bankruptcy. And yet, somehow, the UFCW thought he was trustworthy enough to be a union official.

Daniel Rush, a former UFCW boss, was fined and sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for fraud and other crimes. Rush was the UFCW’s organizing coordinator for the marijuana industry. Several years ago, he was appointed to a local marijuana regulatory board; while in that role, he demanded a job from an applicant for […]