Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

More Members Dissin’ UFCW

Yesterday we pointed readers to a blogger who told officials with the United Food and Commercial Workers to “bite her albino a**”. Now members elsewhere are taking far more important (and formal) steps to show their extreme displeasure with UFCW’s “leadership.”

The Orange County Register reports that in California, where UFCW members are facing the specter of another disastrous strike, members are actually picketing their own union:

Last week, a handful of supermarket employees staged an unusual protest – picketing against their own union.

The two-hour event, which took place April 13 outside the Buena Park headquarters of United Food and Commercial Workers union Local 324, was organized by Jason Cram, a union member and a nine-year employee of Albertsons. Cram and about half a dozen other union members, plus a similar number of (non-union) friends and family members, held signs that said things like “Strike the union” and “Make the UFCW accountable.”

Saying “We basically got nothing for the strike” last time, Cram pointed out lavish UFCW official salaries:

Cram and the other protesters complained about the salaries paid to union officials, which are far higher than what the members can earn working in the supermarkets. Greg Conger, the president of Local 324, earned $221,615 last year, according to a union filing with the U.S. Department of Labor. Seven other employees of Local 324 earned more than $100,000, while another 17 took home more than $90,000 in 2006.

By comparison, a union member at the top of the supermarket’s “first tier” wage scale would earn $37,232 a year for full-time work. On the second tier, top pay for full-time work would be $31,408.

Of course, most of the problem in California comes from the two-tier wage scale UFCW officials agreed to after the last strike. Not that a two-tier system is bad — just ask a UFCW boss.

Meanwhile, employees of the Bashas supermarket in Arizona are filing a petition with the National Labor Relations board to kick out the UFCW as their representatives. Saying “[w]e believe that this employee-driven petition to reject the union sends a strong message that our members are not buying what the union is trying to sell,” a company spokesman said the reason for employee discontent was UFCW’s dirty corporate campaign against the firm. In fact, the company statement alleges that UFCW is faking its own protest photos:

“The UFCW is orchestrating an aggressive attack campaign against Bashas’ and its more than 14,000 employees. Part of this campaign included buying a ‘Shame on Food City’ advertisement, which ran in the Yuma Sun newspaper on Friday, March 30 – a day before the nearby city of San Luis hosted a Cesar Chavez Festival. (Food City has celebrated Chavez’s legacy at its stores and within the community for more than six years.)

To create the advertisement, UFCW Local 99 representatives took separate photos of three Food City employees, and used Photoshop editing software to make it appear as if the three employees were standing together in front of a Food City store.

UFCW representatives also scripted statements for a Food City employee to read aloud during a recent news conference. That script included a patently false statement that the employee had not received any raises while working at Food City; the employee received three. In fact, the union scripted the statement knowing it to be false, but instructed the employee to read it anyway.”

Categories: Center for Union FactsUNITE HERE