August 12, 2019

The Power of Being a Member of Our Union Family

UFCW Local 400 member Clarence “Pete” Dickerson’s experience correcting a clerical error involving his pension shows the value of being a member of our union family.

When Dickerson noticed something was off about his pension, his store manager at Kroger #406 in Appomattox, Va., brushed him off for months. Not one to cause a fuss but concerned over his retirement, he finally went to his union representative. What started as a simple clerical error by the company was going to have a tremendous impact on Dickerson’s future, and his experience shows the importance of having a union on your side that is willing to back you up.

For Dickerson, justice was a long time coming. But when it arrived, it was sweet—to the tune of $31,855.

Dickerson’s ordeal started more than eight years ago, when he transferred from his Kroger store in Richmond to the store in Appomattox. He needed to help care for his brother who had cancer and be closer to his family.

In Richmond, Dickerson worked as a meat cutter. But in order to transfer to Appomattox, he took a position as a part-time clerk, the only available opening at the time. Dickerson worked as a clerk in grocery and produce for a few weeks, but once the meat manager found out Dickerson was a fully trained meat cutter, he started scheduling Dickerson in the meat shop as a part-time meat cutter from that day forward. Sadly, his brother passed away, but Dickerson stayed in Appomattox, where he continues to work as a meat cutter today.

Unfortunately—and unbeknownst to him—the move from the grocery department to the meat department was mishandled by Kroger management. Dickerson was wrongly classified as a meat clerk, not a meat cutter.

Eventually, Dickerson became aware something was wrong. “My pension seemed awfully low,” he said. “So I started checking into it. They had me listed as a clerk according to paperwork. But I’m a meat cutter. I was hired as a meat cutter from the get-go.”

When Pete raised concerns, months passed by with no action. But when his Local 400 representative, Phil Frisina, visited the store and learned of Dickerson’s issues, he filed a grievance.

After more than five contentious months, Kroger finally did the right thing and agreed to a settlement reimbursing Dickerson for the pay he had rightfully earned as a meat cutter.

“It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had my union there to help me,” Dickerson said. “Everyone should join our union. That’s why Local 400 is here—to catch errors that would otherwise never be caught.”