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August 4, 2003

WAL-MART’S WAR ON WORKERS:

(Kingman, Arizona) – Wal-Mart will be forced to reinstate yet another worker with full back pay and to notify its one million employees nationwide that it had committed an unfair labor practice as a result of a decision by an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Judge Gregory Z. Meyerson ordered Wal-Mart to rehire Brad Jones in the retail giant’s Kingman, Arizona, Tire and Lube Express (TLE) department. Jones was fired on February 28, 2002 in retaliation for his efforts to organize a union.

A majority of the “”associates””, as Wal-Mart calls employees, working in the TLE at the Supercenter had signed union authorization cards for United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 99 to give them an organized voice on wages, health benefits, scheduling and working conditions, and the NLRB had set a secret ballot union representation election for August, 2000.

The NLRB blocked the election, however, due to Wal-Mart’s systematic intimidation and other illegal tactics against its workers. But the company’s campaign against the union supporters didn’t end. Jones, one of three leaders in the union effort at the store, was a “”marked man,”” according to the ALJ.

The judge found that Store Manager, Jim Winkler, had targeted three outspoken union supporters by directing supervisors to hold them to a higher standard and “”wait for them to screw up.”” Two left and the third, Jones, was singled out by management. Jones was fired two days after receiving a good yearly performance review which included a 4% wage increase.

During the campaign, the judge found that Wal-Mart illegally monitored workers by placing a new manager in the department to carry out illegal surveillance on the workers’ union activities. The manager, who had no experience in an automotive service unit was unable to work alongside the TLE employees as the job required.

The judge also found that Wal-Mart failed to enforce its non-harassment policy against an anti-union worker who was harassing two union supporters. The victims suffered from their colleagues’ harassment about their weight and religious beliefs. Despite several appeals to management to protect the victims, Wal-Mart refused to enforce its policy, although one Bentonville executive insisted the company takes “”complaints of harassment seriously.””

Wal-Mart’s illegal tactics in Kingman, Arizona exposed further illegal threats to workers across the country. The company’s “”Associate Benefits Book”” which outlines eligibility for various benefits expressly stated that associates represented by a union are not eligible for benefits. The Judge ordered that Wal-Mart reprint and amend its benefit book to reflect that union-represented workers’ benefits are determined through the collective bargaining process and that union-represented workers will remain eligible for benefits during bargaining.

Wal-Mart is also required to post notices in every location admitting its violations of the law and promising not to discriminate against union-represented workers. The ALJ decision in Kingman is the first time Wal-Mart has been ordered to make a national remedy to its illegal anti-union tactics.

August 4, 2003

GENUARDI’S WORKERS TO LAUNCH “”SOS”” CAMPAIGN TO SAVE OUR STORES

Rally and Press Conference – Wednesday, March 12th at 12:30 p.m.

Genuardi’s at East Norriton, 25 West Germantown Pike – Norristown

 

(Philadelphia, PA) Genuardi’s workers will launch a campaign to Save Our Stores at a press conference and rally on Wednesday, March 12, 2003 at 12:30 p.m.  Two years ago, Safeway bought the long-time Philadelphia family-owned grocery chain and has driven it into the ground.  Customers and workers are deeply disappointed in Safeway’s management of our local chain.  Workers are fighting back.

 

Genuardi’s workers want to have a voice.  They want to have a seat at the table to force Safeway to keep these stores as an asset to our community.  Safeway should respect the knowledge, experience and loyalty of the Genuardi’s workforce.

 

This isn’t the first time Safeway has nearly destroyed a local chain.  Workers from the Dominick’s chain in Chicago will tell their story of Safeway’s takeover and subsequent downturn in sales.  The Dominick’s workers have a union on their side and are actively saving their company thanks to their voice with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). Safeway workers from Baltimore and Washington, D.C. will join workers from Chicago at the rally as part of the UFCW Safeway Worker Action Team (SWAT) to help local workers stand up to Safeway’s mismanagement and corporate greed.

 

August 4, 2003

Tyson Foods Uses PETA Supporter To Supply Scabs in Jefferson, Wisconsin Pepperoni Plant Strike

Washington, D.C.: Tyson Foods, the Arkansas based meat processor, is using Scott Mayer, operator of QPS Staffing Services of Greenfield, Wisconsin, and an avowed supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to provide “”scabs”” in a pepperoni plant strike in Jefferson, Wisconsin, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) announced today.

“”Tyson Foods agreement with Scott Mayer and QPS demonstrates clearly that they will use anyone, anywhere, at anytime to scab hardworking American workers standing up for their families,”” said UFCW Local 538 Business Agent Mike Rice.

“”It is supremely ironic that as PETA is attacking Tyson Foods, the company turns around and cuts a deal with a PETA supporter to run scabs into Jefferson, Wisconsin every day in the early morning darkness,”” pointed out Rice. “”To add insult to injury, the scabs are transported on school buses operated by Riteway Bus Services, a company based in Richfield, Wisconsin.””

PETA has recently issued press releases entitled: “”PETA Calls for Prosecution of Tyson Foods and Five Tyson Employees; Formal Complaint, Whistleblower Tell of Deliberate Torture of Birds”” (February 18, 2003) and “”PETA Urges Tyson Foods to Fake It with Meat Products”” (December 24, 2002). See www.peta.org for details.

Scott Mayer, operator of what is claimed to be “”Wisconsin’s largest independent staffing service”” is also an Indy Racing driver, whose biography states that he and his wife are “”active supporters of PETA and the Humane Society.”” See: www.indyracing.com/drivers/driver_bios.php?driver_id=143

UFCW Local 538 members went out on strike at the Tyson Foods pepperoni and other toppings plant in Jefferson, Wisconsin, on February 28, 2003. The plant, formerly known as Doskocil Foods, is one of the largest producers of pepperoni in the United States. Its customers include Pizza Hut, Kraft Foods (DiGiorno, Tombstone and Jack’s pizza brands), and Schwan’s (Tony’s Pizza), one of the largest providers of pizza to schoolchildren in the country.

For more information on the strike visit www.tysonfamiliesstandup.org

August 4, 2003

Whole Foods Workers Rally for a Voice at Work

Rally and Press Conference on Friday, April 4, 2003 at 12:45 p.m. at the Whole Foods Market 24th Street and 7th Avenue in New York

Whole Foods workers are ready to expose the whole truth about Whole Foods Markets. “”Take a look behind the company’s ‘core values’ veneer…its high polish ‘commitment’ to team member, communities, and customers”” ask Whole Foods workers in an ad campaign hitting news stands on Friday.

Workers from Madison, Wisconsin, the first Whole Foods workers in the nation to organize with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) will lead a rally on Friday at 12:45 p.m. at the Whole Foods Market at 24th Street and 7th Avenue in New York.

Ads will debut this week in the Village Voice, the Villager and weekly newspapers in eight other major media markets. Whole Foods management promotes a set of ‘core values’ that shape the stores. Yet workers feel the company has abandoned those values and seek a voice with the UFCW to help keep the company focused on its founding principles.

Whole Foods faces unfair labor charges for its campaign to suppress worker rights in Wisconsin and Virginia. New York City union members, labor leaders and elected officials will call on Whole Foods to respect local workers and consumers by lifting up workplace standards and obeying the law.

WHO: Whole Foods workers from Wisconsin and Virginia, New York Central Labor Council President Brian McLaughlin, Councilwoman Christine Quinn

WHAT: Hundreds to Rally in Support of Whole Foods Workers Right to a Voice at Work

WHEN: Friday, April 4, 2003 at 12:45 p.m.

WHERE: Whole Foods Market at 24th Street and 7th Avenue in New York

August 4, 2003

Whole Foods Workers Tell the Whole Story about Whole Foods

Worker Voices Censored by “”Vegetarian Times””

Whole Foods workers are exposing the whole truth about Whole Foods Markets. “”Take a look behind the company’s ‘core values’ veneer…its high polish ‘commitment’ to team member, communities, and customers”” ask Whole Foods workers in an ad campaign hitting news stands on Friday.

Ads will debut this week in the leading weekly papers in New York City, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Boulder, Colorado. Whole Foods workers are speaking out as part of a growing national movement for a voice with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).

Whole Foods management promotes a set of ‘core values’ that shape the stores. Yet workers feel the company has abandoned those values and seek a voice with the UFCW to help keep the company focused on its founding principles.

The workers’ ad asks customers:

“”Have you ever talked with a Whole Foods worker who is trying to take the company’s glossy pronouncements seriously about respect for team members, self-direction, self-responsibility, open and timely information…workers who take the company at its word and attempt to create a quality work environment?””

Workers in Madison, Wisconsin kick-started the national movement by voting for UFCW Local 1444 representation on July 15, 2002. Despite Whole Foods’ stall tactics, the workers continue to bargain with them and are working toward reaching a first contract.

The Madison campaign leaders launched a website, www.wholeworkersunite.org where workers from the 142 Whole Foods stores can connect with each other and learn about taking action for a better workplace.

The National Labor Relations Board postponed the scheduled April 4 election at the Whole Foods store in Tyson’s Corner, Va., while it investigates charges that the company engaged in a variety of illegal activities designed to stop the employees’ organizing efforts, including:

  • Termination, surveillance and interrogation of pro-union employees.
  • Allowing anti-union literature to be circulated while at the same time blocking the distribution of pro-union literature.
  • Arbitrarily changing the schedules of pro-union employees to create hardships for working parents.
  • Illegal polling of the workers’ stance on the union through a purported “”contest,”” which awarded employees money for expressing anti-union views.

Employees at the Virginia store sought out UFCW Local 400 organizers last November over complaints of low pay and changes to health and insurance benefits, among other issues.

The growing movement of Whole Foods workers is reaching out to customers and community members for support in their effort to have a voice at work. The national newspaper ads calls on the public to email Whole Foods at rs.team@wholefoods.com and let the company know that the community supports the workers.

“”Vegetarian Times”” magazine silenced the voices of the Whole Foods employees by refusing to run the paid advertisement citing a close business and personal relationship with Whole Foods.

Whole Foods faces unfair labor charges for its campaign to suppress worker rights in Wisconsin and Virginia. New York City union members, labor leaders and elected officials will call on Whole Foods to respect local workers and consumers by lifting up workplace standards and obeying the law.

Click here to view a copy of the newspaper ad

August 4, 2003

Kohl’s Workers Launch Grassroots Campaign to Save Their Stores

Hundreds of local Kohl’s supermarket workers are mobilizing the community to join a grassroots effort to keep the Kohl’s family of workers together. The workers, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Locals 1444 and 73A, face an uncertain future and fear losing their family’s health care now that Roundy’s has purchased the Kohl’s stores.

Consumers in the Madison and Dane County communities are receiving postcards from Kohl’s workers asking for their support in the campaign to protect worker’s jobs. Roundy’s is refusing to provide any assurances to the long-time Kohl’s workers–which could result in hundreds of local workers to lose their jobs and family health insurance.

“”Keep our Kohl’s family together,”” reads the postcard. “”Now Roundy’s has purchased Kohl’s– with no commitment to the working families who have made these stores part of our community. We could lose our family health care coverage.””

Roundy’s management is planning to close the Kohl’s stores before reopening as “”Copps”” (a Roundy’s subsidiary) in order to skirt federal labor law designed to protect workers in the event of a sale. Kohl’s workers have been notified that they must apply for positions at the Roundy’s stores, and will be forced to lose years of seniority, benefits and take significant wage reductions. Workers are facing a very uncertain and potentially devastating future now with Copps.

“”Our entire community depends on good jobs with quality family health care. Kohl’s workers are part of this community. Roundy’s should respect our community and respect these workers enough to honor their many years of quality service and retain the Kohl’s workers,”” said Daniel Welch, UFCW Local 1444 President.

The grassroots postcard campaign is the latest step in the grassroots effort to save good local jobs with family health insurance. Last week, twenty four Dane County Commissioners signed a letter calling on Roundy’s to retain the long-time local workers and maintain their wages and benefits.

August 4, 2003

Tyson Pepperoni Gives Heartburn to Pizza Hut

Food And Commercial Workers Union Goes National With Wisconsin Strike

Pizza Hut is about to get a lot of unwanted customer attention as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) has dropped approximately a half-million piece mailing to working families across the United States. The mailing asks that Pizza Hut customers contact the company asking that the giant pizza chain make its pizza “”Tyson- free.”” The mass mailing comes as part of a national campaign to roll back corporate greed in response to Tyson’s effort to rollover striking workers at a highly profitable pepperoni plant in Jefferson, Wisconsin.

The dispute started in late February when Tyson demanded that workers accept a complete elimination of the pension plan for all future workers, unaffordable cost increases for workers’ health insurance and a wage freeze on top of a wage cut. After more than 100 years of operation without a strike, Tyson greed forced workers into the street. The meat conglomerate made no pretense about the lack of economic necessity for its demands–the plant is profitable–but, simply stated that the company’s intent was to lower the standards at the Wisconsin plant to the level of its non-union poultry operations.

Tyson’s recent expansion into pork, beef and processing could face a rough road as workers and communities resist the lowering of living and working standards. Already Jefferson, Wisconsin area merchants and consumers have removed Tyson products from shelves and shopping lists. Now, one of Tyson’s biggest customers, Pizza Hut, could begin to feel the heat from its core consumer base, working parents with younger children. In addition to sending e-letters to corporate headquarters, families are being asked to say “”Tyson-free”” pizza toppings when at Pizza Hut.

The unnecessary conflict slams into an image make-over for Tyson as it tries to move from a supplier to a branded item on consumer’s shopping lists. The company is spending millions in ad dollars to convince American shoppers of Tyson’s premier status in shopping carts and on kitchen tables.

Working families are not fooled by Tyson’s glossy advertisements. Log on to www.tysonfamiliesstandup.org to learn more about the striking Tyson workers and to take action on their behalf.

For other UFCW News on the Tyson Strike see below:

August 4, 2003

Wal-Mart’s War on Workers: Frontline Report From British Columbia

Wal-Mart’s Attack on the Union Cited in Canadian Labour Board Complaint

UFCW Wins Meeting with Workers on Company Time

When United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1518 organizer David Noble referred to a Wal-Mart “”hit list”” of pro-union employees during an organizing campaign in a Quesnel, British Columbia, store, management responded with personal attacks on Noble and a denial that the list even existed. Wal-Mart portrayed Noble and the union as liars and told employees to call the police if union reps visited them at home.

As a result, the British Columbia Labour Board has slapped Wal-Mart for yet another violation of workers’ right to organize. The Board ruled that, not only was Noble justified in referring to such a hit list, but that Wal-Mart grossly interfered with the organizing campaign. The company, widely known in the U.S. for its anti-union practices, was attempting to hide its union-busting strategy with an attack on the credibility and truthfulness of the union itself.

The Labour Board found Wal-Mart’s attack on the union and the organizer unfounded and slammed Wal-Mart for their underhanded practices.

“”If Wal-Mart is concerned about this as an organizing tactic, then it should refrain from arbitrarily targeting employees for dismissal as an easy way to solve its people problems,”” the Board decision reads.

The decision is further evidence of Wal-Mart’s mission to silence its workers’ voices and keep its stores union-free. The company is searching high and low for ways to take the focus off of the way it treats its workers by trying to discredit union organizers dedicated to help Wal-Mart workers have a voice in the workplace.

“”There is no shortage of new mistakes that it [Wal-Mart] finds ways to make,”” the decision continues.

The Canadian Labour Board acted quickly to address Wal-Mart’s misdeeds with meaningful remedies that will help workers’ stand up for their rights on the job. Wal- Mart will have to read the decision during a meeting of all employees at the Quesnel store. In addition, the Board ordered Wal-Mart to allow UFCW Local 1518 to address workers for 30 minutes directly following the reading of the decision–allowing Wal-Mart workers the opportunity to hear about the benefits of unionization without interruption from their managers.

“”Wal-Mart’s war on workers is a war they conduct wherever the company operates,”” says UFCW Executive Vice President Mike Leonard. “”These are serious laws designed to protect workers, and Wal-Mart is quickly finding out that violating these laws brings serious repercussions.””

The decision by the British Columbia Labour Board comes on the heels of guilty verdicts found by the National Labor Board (NLRB) in the U.S. Wal-Mart was found in violation of U.S. labor law when the company fired, spied on, and intimated employees in several different stores. The NLRB has ordered Wal-Mart to read and post its decisions in its U.S. stores as a result of the violations.

“”Wal-Mart keeps insisting that it respects its associate’s rights,”” says Local 1518 President Brooke Sundin. “”But this behavior is typical of Wal-Mart all around North America. When workers exercise their legal right to talk to a union, Wal-Mart violates those rights.””

August 4, 2003

Wal-Mart Benefit Book Lies; Nearly a Million Workers Misled

Wal-Mart’s benefits book misled approximately a million workers with illegal language about exclusions to the plan – leading the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) to support a lawsuit against the company on behalf of Wal-Mart associates. The lawsuit charges that the summary plan description, or Wal-Mart Associate Benefit Book, violates the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The Benefit Book is required by law to accurately and clearly inform associates about their benefits?but Wal-Mart is misleading workers with language inconsistent with benefit plan documents.

“”Wal-Mart will go to any length – even trying to make their employees fear losing their benefits – to stop workers from having a voice in their stores,”” says UFCW Executive Vice President Mike Leonard. “”It is a slap in the face of workers for Wal-Mart to lie about benefits to protect their own interests.””

Once union organizing began in stores around the country, Wal-Mart placed illegal language in its benefit book, stating that “” union represented associates”” are excluded from participation. Recently, a National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge ruled that the language violated the National Labor Relations Act. In the decision, the judge called the language, “”a not very subtle threat to its [Wal-Mart’s] employees that something unpleasant will happen to them if they organize, namely the loss of company benefits.””

David Rosenfeld has filed the lawsuit in San Francisco, charging that Wal-Mart is using its employee benefit book to further its anti-union campaign?rather than to accurately inform workers as ERISA requires. The lawsuit seeks, among other things, fixing the benefit book and notifying workers of their rights.

“”Wal-Mart has been trying to hold its benefits hostage in exchange for employees giving up their rights to organize,”” explains Leonard. “”We will do whatever it takes under the law to ensure that workers get the information they are entitled to about their benefits, and their right to organize.””

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August 4, 2003

Wal-Mart Ordered to Recognize the Union

Company Ordered to Turn Over Information to Union

When meat cutters at a Jacksonville, Tex., Wal-Mart voted for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 540 representation, the company refused to recognize the union—and suddenly changed the job functions of the meat cutters with a change to case-ready meat. Wal-Mart believed it had successfully circumvented the UFCW’s first victory at one of its stores—until a National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge ordered the company to recognize and bargain with Local 540 over the effects of the change to prepackaged meat. This order comes more than three years after the original union election.

“”Changing the way all of its store sells meat shows the extent to which Wal-Mart will go to keep the union out of its stores,”” says UFCW Executive Vice President Mike Leonard. “”Anytime management concocts a scheme to ratchet down people’s livelihoods, it says a lot about the real nature of the company.””

Wal-Mart quickly changed how the Jacksonville store’s meat department operated after the workers voted for Local 540, making the meat cutters into “”sales associates.”” The sudden switch to case-ready meat became evidence of the scope of Wal-Mart’s anti-union strategy. Wal-Mart even boasted to its managers in a Powerpoint presentation, “”It’s the ultimate union avoidance strategy!”” The meat cutters’ specialized skills were devalued once their work assignments were changed.

“”The absence of future wage increases, coupled with the effects of inflation, constitute a very demonstrable and adverse effect,”” the judge concluded. “”The elimination of work requiring their special skills greatly affected both job satisfaction and future earning potential.”” The judge has ordered Wal-Mart to recognize UFCW Local 540 as the bargaining representative for the meat cutters, and restore the department to its prior structure. The judge also ordered Wal-Mart to bargain with Local 540 concerning the effects of the decision to eliminate meat cutting from the Jacksonville store. Wal-Mart must provide the information regarding decision to switch to prepackaged meats that it withheld from the workers’ union at the time of the change.

On Tuesday, Local 540 President Johnny Rodriguez formally requested the start of bargaining with Wal-Mart. Such negotiations would mark the first time that Wal-Mart and the union would sit at the bargaining table.

“”This is a historic decision – the first bargaining order issued against Wal-Mart in the United States,”” explains Leonard. “”It is a victory for all Wal-Mart workers who are fighting for a voice at work.””

The meat cutters in Jacksonville became the first group of workers to vote for union representation at Wal-Mart in February, 2000. Just one month later—during a separate NLRB hearing on a union election at a meat department in Palestine, Tex.—Wal-Mart announced it had decided to replace freshly cut meat with case-ready meat-eliminating the need for meat cutters in every one of its stores. Wal-Mart has repeatedly stated that it will not bargain with any union, and has taken steps to prevent workers from organizing in stores across North America.