Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mrs. Green's Natural Market Unlawfully Terminated Employees, Breached Settlement Agreement, NLRB Region Finds

Unlawfully terminated workers walk a picket line at Mrs. Green's

 A National Labor Relations Board Regional Director charged Mrs. Green's Natural Market with unlawfully terminating eight employees in January 2014 for "supporting a union," and set the case for trial on July 14.

After an internal investigation by a Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board, the Director has found merit to the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1500's unfair labor practice charges alleging that Mrs. Green's Natural Market unlawfully terminated 8 employees because they supported the Union.

The Regional Director also revoked a previous settlement of unfair labor practices (November 2013) between Local 1500, the NLRB and Mrs. Green's. In that settlement, Mrs. Green's agreed to cease their anti-union conduct, promising to create a safe, intimidation-free work environment for the workers. The company also agreed to post a notice in their store for 60 days that informed all employees of their basic rights at work, including the right to form and organize a union. In a complete disrespect for the settlement with the government and workers' rights, during a one week span in January, Mrs. Green's abruptly fired 8 leading Union supporters, some of whom had met with local politicians about their campaign. The company then ripped the required notice from the walls of their store prior to the end of the 60-day period.

A Federal Labor Complaint was then issued against Mrs. Green's, alleging that Mrs. Green's violated the law when it terminated Union supporters Luis Alomoto, Helen Fuentes, Yessica Mendez, Elvia Miguel, Elena Perez, David Ramirez, Martha Urgiles, and Leoncio Naranjo. The Complaint also alleged: Mrs. Green's maintenance of unlawful confidentiality and no solicitation rules; interrogations about Union activity; creating the impression of surveillance of Union activity; threats that supporting the Union is futile; threats workers would not receive wage increases and other benefits if they supported the Union; threats the company would declare bankruptcy if the Union came in; and promises of benefits if the Union was rejected.

The trial will be heard before an Administrative Law Judge of the NLRB in July. "We're confident that we will receive justice," said David Ramirez who worked at Mrs. Green's in Mt. Kisco for nearly 10 years until he was fired this January, "We could not have gotten this far and received this decision without the support from the Union and the Mt. Kisco community, who have walked the picket line with us during a cold winter. That meant a lot to all of us and gave us support and energy to continue to hold strong and fight for our rights," said Ramirez.

The Union is urging the company to reinstate all unlawfully fired workers, "We are urging the Company to reinstate the unlawfully terminated workers immediately and spare the workers and community the expense and strain of a hearing," said UFCW Local 1500 President Bruce W. Both, "The evidence is overwhelming that these workers were not fired for performance issues, but were intimidated, threatened, and then fired for simply standing up for their basic rights at work."

UFCW Local 1500 Organizing Director, Aly Waddy, explained the fear managers instilled in the workers, "Workers were escorted out of the store when they were terminated. If you need a federal judge's order to put you back to work, it's obvious it's not what your boss wants to do, and there's an obvious fear that you're always going to have after going through something that devastating," Waddy explained. When asked about returning to work, Ramirez simply said, "We want respect, protection and security at work once we return."

Since January, the fired workers have received an outpouring of support from community and politicians who have called for a boycott of the store. The picket line remains up at 666 Lexington Ave. Mt. Kisco, NY. Last week, days after the federal complaint was issued and after 18 months on the job, Mrs. Green's parent company, Natural Market Food Group CEO Robin Michel was ousted.

Visit ufcw1500.org/greenismean for more information.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Guest Blog: Mrs. Green's CEO Steps Down

By: Yesica Mendez, Unlawfully Terminated Worker, Mrs. Green's Natural Market


Yesterday news broke that Mrs. Green's CEO, Robin Michel, was being forced to step down from her position.  The news was reported by Food Trade News.  You can imagine the joy we all felt after we heard the news.

Under Robin Michel's leadership we all (including you) saw huge changes at the store.  Whether it was moving products to different areas in the store for no clear reason, or instituting new cold management techniques that affected the overall morale at the store.

We all watched Mrs. Green's transform from a friendly neighborhood grocery store that focused on customer service and providing a healthy environment to work in, to a strict corporate environment, where we couldn't escape stresses of minimal tasks.  That's when we decided to band together and demand change from Mrs. Green's.

Mrs. Green's unacceptable anti-worker behavior was then elevated to new heights, and was exemplified by its merciless campaign the company launched in April 2013 that instilled fear in all of us.  Fear and intimidation were the key ingredients leading to the union's narrow election defeat, and federal labor charges were then filed against the company on our behalf.

Her remorseless leadership culminated in January when the eight of us were unlawfully terminated.  Most of you had gotten to know us and build relationships with us, having 5-12 years of experience in the store.  We were left out in the cold during a frigid winter on a picket line, simply for standing up for our rights at work.

Gladly, we have had the tremendous support from you, the Mt. Kisco community, including New York State Assembly Members David Buchwald and Shelly Mayer.  We couldn't have gotten to the position we are at now without it.  We've been assured that community, labor and faith leaders will continue to stand with us, and boycott Mrs. Green's until they end their labor dispute.

Thank you for the support.  We hope the new CEO of Mrs. Green's Natural Market will take this opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past, and respect the rights of all workers.




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Mrs. Green's CEO Robin Michel Steps Down

UFCW Local 1500 Official Local, 2013

Statement from New York's Largest Grocery Workers Union on Mrs. Green's Natural Market CEO Removal


United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1500 President Bruce W. Both released the following statement on the removal of Mrs. Green's Natural Market CEO, Robin Michel:

"The news of Mrs. Green's CEO Robin Michel's removal is welcoming to the fired workers who have been picketing in front of Mrs. Green's in Mt. Kisco since January. Through Robin Michel's leadership, Mrs. Green's Natural Market has transformed from what was once a friendly neighborhood natural foods store, to a company that emulates Walmart's labor practices, putting a strict priority on expansion and profits, over people."

"Mrs. Green's unacceptable anti worker behavior began with Ms. Michel's tenure and was exemplified by its vicious anti-union campaign the company launched in April 2013 that instilled fear in the workers and contributed to our union's narrow election defeat. It culminated with the unlawful termination in January of eight workers for standing up for their basic rights at work.

"Workers like David Ramirez, who had become a cornerstone in the store throughout his nearly 10 years of employment, were left out in the cold during a frigid winter on a picket line, simply for standing up for his rights at work. Community, labor and faith leaders will continue to stand with the fired workers until Mrs. Green's ends its labor dispute."

For more information visit: ufcw1500.org/greenismean

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Read the guest blog on Mrs. Green's Natural Market.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, 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 A&P/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 info@ufcw1500.org.


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Friday, May 16, 2014

Contracts with Wild by Nature, Dan's & Pick Quick Key Food, Ratified


Yesterday contracts with Dan's Key Food, Pick Quick Key Food and Wild by Nature were voted on by UFCW Local 1500 membership and all ratified.

Wild by Nature's contract is a 24 month agreement, through May 7, 2016.  The contract includes wage increases, new Full-Time starting rates, premium pay and guaranteed hours for Part-Time workers.

Both Key Food contracts are 27 month agreements.  They increase travel pay for all employees, have wage increases, increase hours for Part-Time workers, and recognize same-sex marriages.  “We’re proud of this deal, we focused on fixing problems at the Part-Time level and accomplished it,” said Debbie Gernand, from Pick Quick Key Food, "There's more work to be done and we won't stop fighting!"



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Friday, May 9, 2014

Top 11 Stories This Week: Obama Hearts Walmart, Target CEO Resigns

Barack Obama is visiting a Walmart in California, recognizing their environmental efforts.  Robert Reich trashes the White House for the 'Numbskull' move.

More: Check out what it's like to work at the Walmart Obama visited today.

FEATURE:
Target CEO resigns weeks after second anti-union video released, months after 40 million credit card records stolen from stores. CEO could get over $23 million in severance. Read more.
WHAT'S NEWS THIS WEEK
On Friday, President Obama will stand side by side with a company known for low wages, few benefits, unreliable hours, discrimination against women, violating workers’ rights, and yes, environmental degradation. Workers are rightfully outraged.
Seattle has moved towards a $15 minimum wage, could this be real?
Join hundreds of UFCW Members as we fight for a better New York!

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WIld by Nature Agreement Reached


Updates on Contract Negotiations with Wild by Nature-


The Negotiating Committee is pleased to announce they have reached a tentative agreement with Wild by Nature.

Contract review and voting will take place on Thursday, May 15th in all Wild by Nature stores from 9:30-11:30, and 3:30-5:30.

Thank you for the overwhelming support, communication and solidarity during the negotiation process.   And thank you to the negotiation committee for working tirelessly to provide the best contract possible.


Thank you again,


Bruce W. Both
President, Lead Negotiator, UFCW Local 1500





Like us on Facebook and join the discussion: www.facebook.com/ufcw1500
Follow us on Twitter: @ufcw1500

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Dan's & Pick Quick Key Food Contract Vote

On Thursday, May 15th 9 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. come review the tentative agreement your negotiating committee has agreed to with Key Food at the following locations:

All members from Dan's Key Food and Pick Quick Key Food may vote at any of the following locations:
  • UFCW Local 1500: 425 Merrick Ave
  • Adria Hotel: 220-33 Northern Blvd. Bayside, NY 11361
  • NY Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge: 333 Adams St. Brooklyn, NY 11201
  • Amalgamated Transit Union Hall: 3948 Amboy Rd. Staten Island, NY 10308
Voting will also take place at the following stores:


PICK QUICK STORE #21
1994 Bruckner Blvd. Bronx, NY 10473
TIMES: 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
 
DAN’S – STORE #15
540 West 235th Street Riverdale, NY 10463
TIMES: 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 
 
DAN’S – STORE #11
35 Pleasantville Road Pleasantville, NY 10570
TIMES: 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
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Obama to Visit Walmart, President Hansen's Statement


UFCW President Hansen Statement on President Obama’s Upcoming Visit to Walmart
WASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement regarding President Obama’s upcoming visit to a California Walmart to discuss energy efficiency.
On Friday, President Obama will stand side by side with a company known for low wages, few benefits, unreliable hours, discrimination against women, violating workers’ rights, and yes, environmental degradation. Despite promising to be a leader on climate, Walmart's greenhouse gas pollution continues to rise.  According to its own Global Responsibility Report, the company’s emissions grew 2 percent, nearly half a million metric tons, in the last year alone. In addition, Walmart still lags badly behind other large companies when it comes to renewable power, with its projects and purchases deriving only 3 percent of electricity from these sources.
“More than anything, the President’s visit sends a terrible message to workers across America. He is lending credibility to a bad actor when he should be joining the calls for Walmart to change. A federal agency—the National Labor Relations Board—is prosecuting Walmart for retaliating against workers who stand up and speak out. Taxpayers are subsidizing Walmart which pays many of its own workers so little that they must rely on food stamps and Medicaid. And at a time when there is a renewed conversation about addressing income inequality, Walmart’s business model is making the problem worse.
“After the pep rally in California, I invite the President to meet with Walmart workers who can tell him firsthand about their struggles.”
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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.



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Monday, May 5, 2014

Target Chairman & CEO Gregg Steinhafel is OUT, Here's Why:


5 months after what could be the biggest credit and debit breach in United States history, 36 months after being federally charged and found guilty of violating federal labor laws that protect Target employees, 9 months after an internal memo leaked on "Multi-Cultural Training Tips" to manage Hispanic workers, 1 month after his company's second anti-union video surfaced, and just a few months after receiving another award for World's Most Ethical Retail Employer from Episphere, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel has finally resigned.



Top 5 accomplishments under CEO Gregg Steinhafel:

  1. Target Corp. Found Guilty of Violating Federal Labor Laws and Rights of Employees (their entire "Employee Manual" was also found to be unlawful, ordered to be changed)
  2. Offensive Memo of "Multi-Cultural" Training Tips on Managing Hispanic Employees Leaked
  3. Released two "Cheesy" and Illegal Anti-Union Videos, Forcing Employees to Watch Them (See for yourself, video 1 and video 2: the new 2012 version)
  4. Gregg took a modest 83% raise in 2010, bringing his salary to $23.9 million
  5. Massive Data Breach: When the final numbers are tallied, the data breach could be the largest in United States history.  via AP: To date, the data breach compromised 40 million credit and debit card accounts between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. Then on Jan. 10, the company said hackers also stole personal information — including names, phone numbers as well as email and mailing addresses — from as many as 70 million customers.
     
Though his tenure inspired courageous workers throughout the country to stand up and demand change from the country's third largest employer, the resignation is long overdue.    We urge the future Target chairman and CEO to not only focus on consumer responsibility, but employee responsibility. Target workers are the force behind the bullseye, and they deserve respect, as well as voice at work.  The time for change is now, Target has a wonderful opportunity to show they're committed to respecting workers, now is the time to take the step in that direction.


Throwback handbill during the union campaign in 2011 at Valley Stream Target
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Thursday, May 1, 2014

As Mrs. Green's Announces NYC Expansion Plans, Illegally Fired Workers Head to City for May Day Support

United Food and Commercial Workers
United Food and Commercial Workers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fired Workers to Educate Community, Public and Elected Officials on Mrs. Green's Natural Market Employment Practices

United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1500, New York State's largest grocery workers union, will be celebrating May Day in New York City with workers from Mrs. Green's Natural Market who were illegally fired in January for supporting the union.

The gourmet "natural" market, Mrs. Green's, recently announced its plans to open their first New York City store in Manhattan's West Village, touting its natural, "amazing local organic products" would be a perfect fit with the "progressive foodies" of the West Village.
UFCW Local 1500 stated that Mrs. Green's characterization of the West Village overlooks a key attribute, "New York City communities, especially the West Village, aren't just progressive foodies, they're progressive communities," said Union President Bruce W. Both, "They will not stand for a company that abolishes rights from its workers, and will demand more than natural, local products from company that has a track record of violating their workers' rights," said Union President Bruce W. Both.

Mrs. Green's Natural Market was federally charged in 2013 with violating its workers rights and intimidating workers during a union election at its Mt. Kisco store. The charges were settled in November and Mrs. Green's agreed to create an intimidation free work environment for their employees. Two months later in January 2014, Mrs. Green's Natural Market fired 9 longtime employees who supported the union, after some met with local elected officials on their federally protected rights, which include organizing a union. Some employees had been working with the company for over a decade, and a majority of them had been employed for over six years.
Since the firings workers have been on a picket line in front of the Mt. Kisco store, and have received an outpour of support from the Mt. Kisco community, including local New York State Assembly Members David Buchwald and Shelly Mayer. Federal charges have been filed against the company and a response from the National Labor Relations Board is expected very shortly.

On May Day, the International Day for Workers, the illegally fired workers from Mrs. Green's Natural Market in Mt. Kisco will be joining hundreds of workers throughout Manhattan at numerous rallies, marches and actions, to educate the public, politicians and the West Village community on how Mrs. Green's treats and views its workers.

"We're excited to get the support from workers across New York," said David Ramirez, a former Mrs. Green's worker for over 10 years, who was fired in January, "When they hear what happened to us, they tell us to stay strong and we are with you, it's very powerful and emotional to hear that," Ramirez said. UFCW Local 1500 is calling for the fired workers to be put back to work.

For more on the campaign visit: http://www.ufcw1500.org/organize/mrs-greens-is-mean


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