News and Updates
February 3, 2009
Joe Sorrentino, a worker at a Wakefern PriceRite Supermarket in North Providence, Rhode Island, has been punished for standing up for a union at his workplace, according to charges filed by UFCW Local Union 328 with the National Labor Relations Board.
Sorrentino and other PriceRite employees have been working to organize with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), but have faced a campaign of company harassment and intimidation. Shortly after receiving national attention for speaking out on behalf of the Employee Free Choice Act at a Washington, DC, press conference on January 13, Sorrentino was demoted and given a pay cut—the kind of harassment by corporations against workers that the Employee Free Choice Act would eliminate.
UFCW Local 328, in Providence has filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board, seeking reinstatement of Sorrentino’s position and pay, as a Night Crew Chief.
“This is the way companies destroy worker attempts to gain a voice on the job,” said Dave Fleming, UFCW local 328 President. “They wage fear campaigns. They fire. They spy. They intimidate. They send a clear and frightening message that if you support forming a union, you will be punished.”
A study from Cornell University scholar Kate Bronfenbrenner found that:
- In 25 percent of organizing campaigns, private-sector employers illegally fire workers because they want to form a union.
- Half of employers threaten to shut down partially or totally if employees join together in a union.
- Ninety-two percent of private-sector employers, when faced with employees who want to join together in a union, force employees to attend closed-door meetings to hear anti-union propaganda; 80 percent require supervisors to attend training sessions on attacking unions; and 78 percent require that supervisors deliver anti-union messages to workers they oversee.
- Seventy-five percent hire outside consultants to run anti-union campaigns, often based on mass psychology and distorting the law.
Joe Sorrentino, like countless other workers trying to improve their workplace, exercised his right speak out for a union on the job,” said Fleming. “The next thing he knew, he was demoted with a wage cut of $3 an hour.”
November 10, 2008
Providence, R.I.—On November 7, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), grocery workers and community members gathered at the Providence PriceRite store on 325 Valley St to reach out to shoppers. Workers handed out flyers to customers and talked to them about the need for good union jobs, especially in this troubled economy.
PriceRite is owned by Wakefern–the same company that owns and/or supplies ShopRite stores in Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland and New Jersey, where the vast majority of workers have a union. Those ShopRite workers say their union, the UFCW, gives them benefits like good wages, quality, affordable health care, and respect on the job–the kind of benefits that make grocery jobs the good, middle-class jobs that strengthen communities.
PriceRite stores are primarily located in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Workers in these states also began reaching out to customers today. PriceRite workers say they are not being allowed the same freedom to choose a union–without company interference.
“”I’ve seen PriceRite run all over immigrant workers and disrespect them in lots of ways,”” said PriceRite worker Charles Heirsch. “”That’s not good for workers or families here in Providence.””
“”It’s just unfair,”” said Ronnie Cabral, Jr., a PriceRite employee. “We need the union here, too, so we can get better pay and health care, and job security.””
A majority of PriceRite workers are part-time, and are not eligible for health care. When workers can’t get health care, it means more uninsured families in Providence–and taxpayers footing the bills for government health care. PriceRite workers are reaching out to community members to help make their employer understand: in this troubled economy, the last thing Providence needs is dead-end, low-paying jobs that don’t provide health care coverage.
“”We’re not just workers–we’re a part of the community,”” says Heirsch. “”If we can improve jobs at PriceRite, it will help working families and make our middle class stronger. That’s why we need a union at PriceRite.””