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Fresh & Easy Busted for Union Busting (Read More…)

By; Dave Rice
March 28, 2012

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Inc., the U.S. arm of British grocery giant Tesco, itself the second most-profitable worldwide retailer behind Wal-Mart, has lost in a petition for review of a disciplinary order handed down by the National Labor Relations Board.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. has upheld the ruling of the Labor Relations Board pertaining to actions taken against an employee at a store in the San Diego suburb of Spring Valley. The Board held that Fresh & Easy was guilty of three separate violations of labor law against an employee during a union organizing drive at the store in 2008.

Store management twice warned a pro-union employee that she was not allowed to discuss unionization with other employees on the work floor, despite her protestation that “if employees can talk about the San Diego Chargers’ games or about their kids, then they can talk about the Union.” This constituted an unlawful restriction on the employee by barring her from talking to her coworkers about organizing.

A supervisor then told the employee, who’d received a warning during work, that “if I had a manager that didn’t like me, I would take my check and walk out.” He further advised her twice that if she were to quit, she would likely be eligible for unemployment benefits, also an unlawful act.

Third, supervisors imposed a disciplinary improvement plan and ordered the worker not to disclose it or discuss its terms with her coworkers. This was also ruled by the Board to be an illegal denial of her right to discuss working conditions with her colleagues.

“We conclude that the Board’s decision that Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Inc. unlawfully encouraged an employee to quit in response to protected activity and promulgated two unlawful oral rules, one prohibiting an employee from discussing disciplinary matters during working hours and the other prohibiting employees from discussing union matters during working hours, is supported by substantial evidence and is not arbitrary,” reads a portion of the court’s final ruling, which denied the appeal by Fresh & Easy.

Despite parent Tesco’s overall profitability, the Fresh & Easy move into the United States’ West Coast market coincided with the global economic downturn and has yet to bear fruit. The company is hoping to show a profit from its U.S. operations for the first time in 2012 or 2013.


Posted by Admin on 03/28 at 10:47 AM

Trumka calls on Pa. unions to support Obama (Read More…)

By Jane M. Von Bergen
Mar. 27, 2012

While acknowledging the “ups and downs we’ve had over the past three years,” the national head of the U.S. labor movement called on Pennsylvania union members Tuesday to mobilize to keep President Obama in office.

“President Obama stands on our side,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka told hundreds of AFL-CIO union delegates gathered in Philadelphia at the start of the Pennsylvania Federation of the AFL-CIO’s three-day convention.

Much of the convention will be union administrative business, heavily underscored with politics. But on Thursday, the AFL-CIO will also unveil a new effort to connect start-up companies with union workers before sending delegates to attend a noon rally in support of a drive to unionize 3,000 security guards working in Philadelphia’s office towers and major institutions including the University of Pennsylvania.

Trumka, who worked as a coal miner in Western Pennsylvania and earned his law degree at Villanova University, expressed disappointment that Obama’s pledge to work for a law that would make it easier for unions to organize never came to fruition. But he mentioned it almost in passing, while crediting Obama with creating or saving 3.6 million jobs during the recession. He also praised the president for expanding access to health care and tightening up the banking industry.

Union members, he said, need to push back against politicians who are “less interested in doing the right thing than they are in doing the far-right thing” and against right-wing donors who are making a “blatant bid to buy our democracy. It’s pretty ugly and it’s very corrupt.”

Trumka urged the convention’s attendees, who represent the leaders of unions around the state, to register at least 20 percent of their unregistered members and to commit to a full-court two-week intensive push prior to the November election.

Pennsylvania “is a must-win state for President Obama on his path to the White House,” said Christopher Borick, director of Muhlenberg College’s Institute of Public Opinion in Allentown. The Republicans can lose Pennsylvania, he said, and still win the White House, but the Democrats need Pennsylvania and unions are key to that party’s success.

“They provide the structure and the personnel” for get-out-the-vote efforts, he said.

Pennsylvania has the fourth largest number of union members, 779,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department and with 14. 6 percent of its workers belonging to unions, it ranks above the national average of 11.4 percent for union membership.

U.S Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), facing re-election, will speak on Wednesday and Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic National Committee, will address the group on Thursday.

Earlier in the day Thursday, delegates will turn their attention away from politics to hear about organizing new industries from Mark Kamlet, provost at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University and Jane Oates, assistant secretary of the U.S. Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration.


Posted by Admin on 03/27 at 03:07 PM