October 16, 2009
(HILLSBORO, OR) – Fred Meyer, one of the most profitable and popular grocery stores in Oregon, seems intent on damaging its relationship with the employees who make it so successful. According to charges filed by the workers’ union, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555, the company has interfered with workers while they have been seeking a fair contract at the bargaining table. And yesterday, the Hillsboro store manager at Fred Meyer created a scene when he called police to arrest three union representatives for talking with workers—a right guaranteed to workers under federal law.
One representative was leaving the store when he was arrested, and another, Local 555 President Dan Clay, was driving into the parking lot to find out what was going on when police arrested him.
Union workers at other stores were baffled to hear of the company’s behavior. “We meet with our reps in the store all the time,” said Anne Lilley, a Hillsboro Safeway worker and UFCW Local 555 member. “If we’re not busy, it’s easy to just step aside and take care of an issue quickly with our reps—it’s something that workers in grocery stores do every day, all across the country. I can’t believe that Fred Meyer management would raise a fuss about something so routine.”
Fred Meyer workers feel the company’s behavior has been undeserved and unacceptable. “I just don’t understand Fred Meyer’s actions right now,” said Fred Meyer employee and UFCW Local 555 member Charlotte Hardin. “I mean, we have a right to meet with our union at our workplace, and Fred Meyer knows that. Why this hostile attitude towards our union? It’s just plain disrespectful to Fred Meyer’s employees and customers.”
Hillsboro resident Linda Sears was shopping at Fred Meyer when the disruption occurred. She called the manager’s behavior “unprofessional and unnerving.”
“”Yelling at workers and their union reps,” added Fred Meyer employee and Local 555 member Karyl Feliciano, “and calling the police on our union? Why would Fred Meyer behave like that? That kind of behavior is totally disruptive to our customers, and to their shopping experience. It’s just bad for business.””