By: Tony Speelman
Secretary-Treasurer, UFCW Local 1500
David Ramirez and Martha Urgiles worked in the Mrs. Green’s Dairy Department for over ten years. Elivia Miguel worked at Mrs. Green’s for over 11 years. Yesica Mendez worked at Mrs. Green’s for four years. These are just four of the nine workers who were fired from Mrs. Green’s Natural Market in Mt. Kisco for “poor customer service.”
Like you, the workers at Mrs. Green’s saw a lot of change at their store over the last year. After new management took over in December of 2012, a friendly, community favorite manager was fired.
This was the first of many changes employees were about to endure throughout the next year.
Throughout the changes longtime employees stood up and began to demand better treatment from management. An overwhelming number of workers filed for a union election in May, losing by just three votes. Afterwards, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) charged Mrs. Green’s with violating federal labor law, performing illegal interrogation and intimidation of employees in the weeks leading up to the election.
After charges were filed, employees from the store began to meet with local elected politicians, including Assembly Member Shelly Mayer, to discuss the difficulties they face every day at their job. Workers were thrilled to meet with and receive the support from their elected officials who took the time to speak to them about their lives.
The federal charges were settled in November, and Mrs. Green’s agreed under federal order to post a notice in their store for 60-days. The notice notified Mt. Kisco employees of their basic rights that were protected under federal laws.
During the 60-day posting, Mrs. Green’s abruptly fired nine pro-union workers for “poor customer service”. A majority of the fired workers had over seven years on the job; some had worked for the company for over a decade. The fired workers were not only leading supporters of the union in the election, but were the same workers who met with politicians in the Mt. Kisco area for help. We have since filed federal charges against Mrs. Green’s and called the firings illegal retaliation and are hopeful they will all be reinstated.
Many of you may have seen the workers in front of the store the last two weeks, notifying customers they have come to know over the last decade, they were fired for “poor customer service.”
There has been an outpouring of support from former customers who have pledged not to shop at the store. Today, community members, community groups, and former customers will join the fired workers on their picket line, calling for a boycott of the store until the fired workers are reinstated. Local politicians will also be there to support the fired workers and the community.
Please come by and show your support for the men and women who have helped sever you at Mrs. Green’s for the last decade and demand management reinstates the workers.
For more info on any of these events please head to www.ufcw1500.org.
Tony Speelman is Secretary-Treasurer of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1500. UFCW Local 1500 is based out of Westbury, New York, represents over 23,000 grocery workers in New York City, Long Island, Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties. Members of Local 1500 are employed by Pathmark, Fairway, Stop and Shop, Gristedes, D’Agastino, Key Food, Shop Rite and King Kullen.
Stay up to date with UFCW Local 1500 on twitter@ufcw1500, facebook.com/ufcw1500, www.ufcw1500.org.
Contact UFCW Local 1500 at firstname.lastname@example.org.