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April 19: Rally for a Fair Contract at Macy’s

As we negotiate our next union contract with Macy’s, we are fighting for better pay, better schedules, and better healthcare.

We’re taking a stand — not just for Macy’s workers here in the Washington Metropolitan region, but across the country. We’ve teamed up with our union brothers and sisters from UFCW Local 21 in Seattle to plan simultaneous coast-to-coast actions on Thursday, April 19. Join us at a rally near you!

Thursday, April 19
Noon – 1:00pm

Macy’s Metro Center
1201 G St NW, Washington, DC

Macy’s Prince George’s Plaza
3500 East-West Hwy, Hyattsville, MD


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As we negotiate our next union contract with Macy’s, we’re committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. With so many ways to stay in the loop, don’t get left out of the conversation!

Text Macys400 to 698-329

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Kroger Shop Steward Wins Back Pay for Local 400 Members

Nicole Boyd had had enough.

A shop steward and florist at Kroger #326 in Lynchburg, Virginia, she was tired of seeing managers doing work that was supposed to be assigned to her coworkers, while Local 400 members working part-time weren’t getting the hours they wanted and needed.

“The managers are constantly stocking shelves,” Nicole said. “On any day, you can walk in and find a manager stocking. Sometimes there’s three or four. Some days, they even bring in co-managers in from other stores, rather than giving part-timers the hours they want.”

So Nicole decided to do something about it. She took photos every time she saw a manager stocking shelves. She did the legwork to identify the name of each manager who came in from another store. And then she sent the photos to her Local 400 representative, Phil Frisina.

“Some managers told me I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of them,” she said. “But they have no expectation of privacy because they’re on video the whole time they’re in the store. So I just kept snapping away.”

At the same time, Nicole talked with part-timers who wanted more hours and weren’t getting them. She persuaded many of them to sign forms testifying to this.

Thanks to her tenacity in documenting these repeated violations of her union contract, combined with follow-up work by Local 400 staff, the company was forced to pay the wages of part-timers who should have been doing the stocking that was being performed by managers. Everyone who signed the forms and was denied hours they should have had was paid for those hours.

Despite this great victory, Nicole said, “They haven’t stopped. This week, there were three managers on duty who were stocking. They don’t care. Meanwhile, Kroger keeps cutting hours. So I’m going to keep taking pictures and keep doing what I’ve been doing.”

Nicole brings an unusual background to her activism as a shop steward. She started working at Kroger in 2012, but didn’t join Local 400 until last year’s contract fight, even though her husband, Kroger #408 head meat cutter Kenneth Boyd, was a member and was urging her to do the same.

“When we voted to authorize a strike, I decided I’m not crossing a picket line and I want a say in our contract and the protections we receive on the job,” Nicole said. “And shortly after I joined, I was asked to be a shop steward and I proudly agreed to do so.”

One of her top priorities ever since has been to sign up new members—and her journey to becoming a Local 400 member, shop steward and activist has been a powerful tool in doing so. “I tell them my story,” Nicole said. “I say, ‘I was anti-union and didn’t see why I needed to be a member. I know exactly what you’re thinking; I’ve been in your shoes. But the way Kroger is being run, and the way management tries to make us do more with fewer resources and not enough pay and hours, all of us really need our union now.’ I tell them the way it is. And they usually sign up.

“Just in the last year, there’s a lot more pressure on workers to stock more stock,” she explained. “They want us to work faster and faster, and it’s gotten to the point that some people work right through their breaks and lunches to do all that’s demanded of them because they’re afraid of being fired. Of course, at the same time, management is also insisting that we greet every customer and walk with them when they need to find things. This can’t continue or else turnover – which is already way too high – will go through the roof.”

A resident of Bedford, Nicole plans on continuing to fight for her Local 400 sisters and brothers, to improve working conditions, and to hold Kroger management accountable for as long as it takes. She has already made a profound positive difference in the lives of fellow members, and she’s going to keep doing more to right the wrongs she sees.


Widespread Scheduling Violations Reported at Giant & Safeway

Local 400 members reported scheduling violations at 46 Giant Food & Safeway stores in a single day.

Local 400 members reported scheduling violations at 46 Giant Food & Safeway stores in a single day.

We all know how hectic life can get. Between work, family, and other obligations, your time is precious. That’s why our union contract requires store managers to post the schedule by 1:00 p.m. every Friday – so you can have time to plan your life.

But all too often, store managers at Giant Food and Safeway supermarkets do not post the schedule on time, or they make changes to the schedule without informing every employee individually. This not only makes it harder for you to plan your week, but it is a serious violation of our union contract.

Last week, on Friday, September 23, we decided to find out how many store managers violate our union contract when creating a schedule for the week. Thanks to members like you calling our hotline, we discovered 46 stores with schedule violations in a single day.

We will be filing grievances to make sure every reported violation is addressed. In addition, as part of our ongoing contract negotiations, we are proposing real penalties when managers do not post the schedule on time.

Report Scheduling Violations: 301-577-2368

Please continue to report scheduling violations each week by calling our hotline at 301-577-2368.

Violations include:

  • schedule is not posted by 1:00 p.m. on Friday
  • the schedule is changed after posting without informing all affected employees individually (the manager leaving a note at the time clock or telling all employees to check the schedule for changes is not enough)

Know Your Contract

The following clause can be found in the Giant Food & Safeway union contracts regarding scheduling:

6.18 The schedule for all full time employees showing the starting and finishing time and regular days off shall not be altered after it is posted, except by mutual agreement. Each full time employee shall regularly receive the same day off each week. A seven (7) day written notice must be given in order for a full time employee’s regularly scheduled day off to be changed except for holiday weeks. In the week following the holiday week, the regular schedule shall apply pertaining to days off. In the Meat Department, the scheduling of nights (past 6:00 p.m.) and Saturday night for full time employees shall be done on a rotating basis as nearly equal as practical. The schedule for a part time employee may be changed by notification to the employee prior to store closing the previous day. A part time schedule shall be complete and reflect the anticipated basic need for the store’s requirements for that week.

Sign Up for Text Alerts: Text FELRA to 698-329

As we negotiate our next union contract with Giant and Safeway, we’re committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. By signing up for text alerts, you’ll get the latest updates immediately!

To sign up, just text FELRA to 698-329.

Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698-329.

August 13: March for $15 at Kroger


On Saturday, August 13, thousands of people like us will be marching through the streets of Richmond calling for a $15 minimum wage and union rights. Can you make it?

March for $15 at Kroger
1:30 pm, Saturday, August 13
Monroe Park, Richmond, VA
Part of the first-ever Fight for $15 National Convention

The Fight for $15 has grown to become a household name in our country for a reason. Thousands of hardworking men and women have refused to stay silent about the challenges of making ends meet on today’s poverty wages.

Just look at the facts. Nearly 64 million Americans work for less than $15 an hour, including many members of Local 400. Over the last few decades, the real value of our wages has plummeted. Today, the minimum wage in Virginia is only $7.25. But in 1968, it was $1.60 –equivalent to $11.08 today. Not only that, we’re more productive today than we were in 1968. If the minimum wage kept pace with our productivity, it would be $18.85 today!


Even if you make more than the minimum wage, your pay is affected too. When the value of the minimum wage goes down, so does the value of your paycheck. It’s simple: the lower the bottom goes, the deeper we all sink. That’s why we’re fighting to raise wages up and down the scale – because like the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

It’s not that Kroger can’t afford to pay more. Kroger made $2.4 billion in profits last year. Kroger’s CEO, Rodney McMullen, was richly rewarded for your hard work: he got a 17% pay raise this year. He now makes $11.2 million a year. A part-time Kroger associate making $9 an hour would have to work 1,204 years to make what he made last year alone.

We’re tired of CEOs getting all of the reward off of our hard work while we struggle to make ends meet. We’re tired of working harder than ever but earning less than we did decades ago. It’s time for change.

Join us on Saturday, August 13, for a historic Fight for $15 march through Richmond. We’ll be marching with thousands of McDonald’s cashiers and airport baggage handlers, truck drivers and early education teachers, retail employees and home care workers. And so many others.

To those of you that doubt us, those of you that think we’ll never get $15 an hour (or worse, think that we don’t deserve $15 an hour) – think again. We’re already doing it. Just last month, we passed legislation to raise the minimum wage in Washington, D.C. to $15 an hour by 2020. New York and California have already done the same thing. Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles have also gone to $15.

This isn’t just a fight worth winning, it’s a fight we ARE winning. Help us keep up the momentum! Join us on Saturday, August 13 to Fight for $15 at Kroger!

Print the Flier (PDF)

20160813-Richmond Fight For 15 March

Chip In To Help a Local 400 Family Devastated by Flooding

Violent flooding has devastated thousands of households in West Virginia. Pitch in today to help a Local 400 family who has lost everything.


Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Huntington Western River Flood Punt Team provides lifejackets to locals near Clendenin, West Virginia, June 24, 2016. The team is assisting the West Virginia State Emergency Operation Center by providing disaster and relief assistance in response to the widespread flooding. U.S. Coast Guard photo

Imagine losing your home, your car – even your loved ones – after a typical summer rain storm quickly turned into a devastating flood. Imagine clinging to your children for hours while you await rescue, watching helplessly as your family home floats away in violent flood waters.

This is the reality facing thousands of families in West Virginia.

Here at Local 400, at least 18 of our members and their families have been affected. Thirteen families have had their homes and vehicles completely destroyed, their hometowns nearly washed off the map. Others have lost vehicles, clothing and family heirlooms. Everyone has weeks of clean up yet to come.

Pitch in now to help a family who has lost everything. Your tax-deductible donation will go directly to a family in Local 400 who has had their home devastated by the flood.


This is a time to come together as a union family and support our brothers and sisters in need. Many communities will never be the same. At least 22 people have lost their lives as a result of the disaster. Even today, clean up and rescue efforts are still ongoing as subsequent tornadoes and thunderstorms continue to hamper first responders.

The impact of this devastation will be felt for years to come. But right now, you and I can help our fellow union members get back on their feet. Pitch in to help a Local 400 family today.

Your tax-deductible donation will be processed through the West Virginia AFL-CIO Disaster Relief Fund and given directly to a Local 400 family in need.

Together, we will get through this. We are a union family and we will be there for each other.

MAY 11: #SaveMyStore Rally & March to Giant Food HQ


Eight Giant Food grocery stores in the region are slated for potential sale as the result of a merger between Ahold and Delhaize, the European-based parent companies of Giant Food and Food Lion.

Hundreds of jobs and the future of our community is at stake. We can’t let a corporate merger in Europe take away good jobs and quality shopping options here at home. Join us for a rally and march to Giant Food Headquarters to preserve good jobs!


11:00 a.m., Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Rally at UFCW Local 400
8400 Corporate Dr, Landover, MD
RSVP on Facebook

Ample free parking available.

Buses Available: Reserve Your Seat Today!

We have arranged buses from Virginia and southern Maryland for anyone interested in attending the rally. All are welcome, so reserve your seat today!

Reserve Your Seat at SaveMyStore.org Today!

Fredericksburg/Stafford Bus:

Fredericksburg, VA
Giant #770, 1245 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Fredericksburg, VA
Departs: 8:30 a.m.
Returns: 3:00pm

Stafford, VA
Giant #243, 317 Worth Ave, Stafford, VA 22554
Departs: 9:30am
Returns: 2:15pm

La Plata/Accokeek Bus:

La Plata, MD
Giant #339, 200 Rosewick Rd, La Plata, Md 20646
Departs: 9:00am
Returns: 2:30pm

Accokeek, MD
Giant #338, 7025 Berry Rd, Accokeek, Md 20607
Departs: 9:30am
Returns: 2:00pm

Since launching the #SaveMyStore campaign, our petition to Ahold/Delhaize has steadily gathered thousands of signatures. On May 11, we’ll deliver our petition directly to Giant Food headquarters.

We demand answers. So far, representatives of Ahold and Giant Food have refused to answer our questions. We’ve invited them to our town halls, but we’ve only been met with radio silence.

We demand to know the future of our stores, our jobs, and our communities. Join us on May 11 to make our voices heard!

About the #SaveMyStore campaign:

On Tuesday, March 15, employees at eight area Giant Food stores were informed that their stores may be sold due to a corporate merger. Less than a week after hearing the news, welaunched the #SaveMyStore campaign to bring together Giant employees, union members, and the communities we serve to save these stores.

In a matter of weeks, we have already collected thousands of signatures on a petition to preserve the quality shopping, good jobs, and excellent customer service that we have come to expect from our local Giant grocery stores.

We’ve also hosted a series of town hall meetings to bring together Giant Food employees, elected officials, community leaders, customers, friends and neighbors. With so many jobs at stake, together we will do whatever it takes to keep our communities intact.

Virginia Members Take Concerns to Legislature in Annual AFL-CIO Lobby Day

by Rick Howell

The Virginia Senate Commerce and Labor Committee ignored the voices of working Virginians and once again struck down a proposal to increase the state's minimum wage, currently a paltry $7.25 per hour.

The Virginia Senate Commerce and Labor Committee ignored the voices of working Virginians and once again struck down a proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage, currently a paltry $7.25 per hour.

Monday, February 1, dawned unusually warm as a team of UFCW Local 400 activists walked from the Richmond Marriott to the state legislature to participate in this year’s “Lobby Day” activities.

Each General Assembly session, the Virginia AFL-CIO invites activists from various labor unions to help make the case to lawmakers for that year’s labor agenda.

Many Virginia legislators, Democrat and Republican, are determined that the state’s “right-to-work” law wind up in the Constitution of Virginia. They passed that measure last year, and would like to see it pass in 2016 and be on the ballot this fall.

However, as UFCW activists discussed this with lawmakers, there was talk about moving it to 2017, to avoid “long lines” at the polls in a presidential race. This prompted Virginia AFL-CIO President Doris Crouse-Mays to say “If they’re worried about long lines, why don’t we have early voting?”

Our activists watched as the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee killed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage. This happened in spite of testimony from one woman, who asked: “Have any of you had your water turned off, because you paid the gas bill? Or had your gas turned off when you paid the water bill, because you couldn’t pay both?”

Her questions were met with silence. Once again, the GOP-controlled Virginia legislature was refusing to respond to the needs of hardworking men and women struggling to make ends meet.

Nevertheless, it was an opportunity to show our presence as an organized labor force in a state long run by businessmen. Some legislators, including Sen. John Edwards, Del. Charniele Herring, Del. David Toscano, and Del. Jeion Ward, met with our delegation and we had the opportunity to thank them for their long support of organized labor.

The fight against “right to work” and the struggle to raise the minimum wage will continue in Virginia, and UFCW Local 400 will be there!

UFCW Local 400 staff and members were out in force at the Virginia General Assembly as part of the AFL-CIO's annual lobby day.

UFCW Local 400 staff and members were out in force at the Virginia General Assembly as part of the AFL-CIO’s annual lobby day.

Rick Howell, pictured on the left, is a UFCW Local 400 member from Roanoke, Virginia, where he has worked for Kroger for many years. Rick is also a writer and journalist. You can read his regular column in The Bedford Bulletin.






Sarah Strong: Rock of Strength

Sarah Strong is an assistant front end manager at Kroger in Bristol, VA.

Sarah Strong is an assistant front end manager at Kroger in Bristol, VA.

Sarah Strong has a powerful sense of justice. An assistant front end manager at Kroger #335 in Bristol, Va., there is little that makes her angrier than to see how courtesy clerks at the store are mistreated.

In an increasing practice, Kroger has hired “courtesy clerks” to push carts, bag groceries, and assist customers in the front of the store. These employees are paid Virginia’s minimum wage, a paltry $7.25 an hour, and are ostensibly prohibited from promotion opportunities or pay raises. According to several members, few courtesy clerks last more than a matter of months.

“They do the hardest job but they’re paid the least,” Sarah said. “They’re out there in the bad weather collecting the carts and they clean the bathrooms, too. They’re just as important as me, but they’re certainly not treated that way. It’s just not fair.

“What’s even worse is they’re not given an opportunity to make more money or move up no matter long they’ve worked there,” she said. “We’re not even allowed to train courtesy clerks to become cashiers. They should be able to make a career of it, get health insurance and afford to pay their bills. Yes, some are kids in school who aren’t expecting to stay long, but improving the position—or eliminating it entirely—would reduce the high turnover rate.”

Sarah has turned her outrage into activism. She was hired at her store seven years ago as—yes—a courtesy clerk, but within a week she was moved up. Since that time, she has worked in virtually every department of the store. And she has made a point of speaking up for her co-workers. That led to her becoming a shop steward, a position she had to give up three years ago due to family obligations. But she remains deeply involved in the affairs of her store and her union.

Sarah has been attending meetings to prepare for the upcoming Kroger-Roanoke bargaining (see page 14) and plans to play an active role in process. “I’m going to encourage our members to vote when the time comes for ratification,” she said. “It’s very important that members listen to what’s been offered, to understand what’s happening, and to know what we’re fighting for. We’ve got to get our membership up and our voices heard. If our members don’t care, things won’t get better. We can’t expect change if nothing changes.

“Above all, we can’t bicker among ourselves,” she said. “It’s not all about ‘you.’ It’s all about ‘us.’ Being in a united front means more than you would think.”

Sarah, who lives in Bristol with her 10-year-old son, Landon, is a people person above all else. Her favorite part of her job is her customers. “Sometimes you see their whole families, you know them for years, and they’re the funniest, sweetest people you can meet,” she said. “All you have to do is say, ‘Hi, did you find everything OK?’ and you can make some very good friendships.”

And people are what Local 400 means to her, too. “We’ve got support,” she said. “When I went after the position I have now, I had to fight tooth and nail. My shop stewards went above and beyond the call to make sure I was treated fairly. Without their support, I never would have gotten this position. I’ve also become very good friends with several members. In a big company like Kroger, you can feel alone. But being a Local 400 member means I’m not alone. And that means the world.”

2015: A Year In Review

This year has been packed with collective bargaining and growth successes, community events and political victories. As we look forward to the New Year ahead, here’s a quick trip through the 2015 highlights.


Minimum Wage Increases Effective January 1, 2015 For West Virginia
Montgomery and Prince George’s County in Maryland increased minimum wage in October.  The State of Maryland and District of Columbia’s wages went up in July!MinimumWage_ALL-1024x460

Your Union Protects Your Rights as Safeway-Albertsons Merger Becomes Final
On Friday, January 30, the merger became final. Due to the strength of Local Union, and the protections of Article 1 of our contract with Safeway, we maintained our jobs, pay, benefits, seniority, and collective bargaining agreement with the newly merged company.


Walmart Announces Raise in Wages for 500,000 hourly AssociatesFMLAturns22
Read UFCW International President Marc Perrone’s official statement.

FMLA turned 22!

In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act. The law requires most employers of 50 or more workers to grant up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a family or medical emergency. Read more about FMLA on our website, you’ll be glad you did!


Mountaineer Workers Rising Rally
Thousands of people (some reported 6,000!) came to the West Virginia Capitol building in Charleston on March 7, 2015 to hear from the leaders of
MountaineerWorkersRisingAmerica’s most prominent labor unions at a rally to protest against the agenda of the new Republican majority in the Legislature. Of course Local 400 was present in their gold glory accompanied by our drumming and noise-making union brothers and sisters from UFCW Local 23.


Kroger Members Fight Back Against Portsmouth Closing
It was bad enough that Kroger
closed store #538 on High Street on April 11,(page but to add insult to injury, Kroger did not offer workers jobs at the nearby Kroger #542, also in Portsmouth — instead, the company said they would have to work at Kroger #555 in Yorktown, Va., a 50-mile round trip commute.PortsmouthKroger
The reason? Kroger #542 is a so-called “Marketplace” store, which the company is trying to run on a non-union basis. Check out the
news coverage from WAVY.


CVS Members Ratify New Contract
On May 17 Local 400 members working as pharmacists at CVS unanimously ratified a new collective bargaining agreement that raises their pay, maintains their protections, and strengthens their workplace environment in other ways.
Read more!

Bestway Falls Church Workers Ratify First Contract
Culminating a long, challenging fight, Local 400 members working at Bestway in Falls Church, VA. ratified their first collective bargaining agreement May 14! Despite the countless obstacles, the workers never backed down. They earned a fair contract and those who went on strike were awarded damages through an NLRB agreement and those no longer employed have the right to return to work.


PaidSick Montgomery County Enacts Paid Sick Leave Law
The legislation provides every person working in the county at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours of work, up to 56 hours of paid leave per year. The new law takes effect October 1, 2016 and will benefit an estimated 90,000 people. Paid leave can be taken if the worker or the member of the worker’s family suffers from an injury or illness or is the victim of domestic violence. This follows passage of a similar law in D.C. in 2014.


Healthcare Services Workers Vote Union Yes!
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and dietary workers at Elizabeth Adam Crump nursing home have been Local 400 members for many years. But that hasn’t been the case for the laundry, floor care and housekeeping associates working alongside them. As employees of contractor hired by Crump — Healthcare Services — the laundry, floor care and housekeeping workers didn’t have union representation. But they do now. On August 20, the Healthcare services employees voted union yes!

YvesLocal 400 Member Makes History

Local 400 member Yves Gomes (pictured in blue), a pharmacy technician who works at Safeway, made history when he became the first undocumented immigrant and youngest person ever elected to the Executive Board of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA).


Members Overwhelmingly Re-Elect Federici Slate
Local 400 members overwhelming re-elected President Mark Federici and Secretary-Treasurer Lavoris “Mikki” Harris to their second terms, while electing Vivian Sigouin recorder.

KrogerPortsmouthMembers Rally for Worker Assaulted by Manager at Bestway Mt. Vernon
Local 400 members held a series of rallies in front of the Mt. Vernon store in support of a fellow member who was physically assaulted by his manager after he was told to take expired meat out of the trash, clean it, repackage it and put it back on the shelf to sell. The worker wasn’t going to put the health and safety of his customers in danger. So instead he took out his camera phone and recorded the managers behavior.



Kaiser Members Ratify National Agreement
Local 400 health care professionals working at Kaiser ratified a national collective bargaining agreement that increases their wages, and sets standards to improve the quality and safety of health care. “We look forward to working with the leadership of Kaiser in administering this national contract,” said Local 400 Secretary-Treasurer Lavoris “Mikki” Harris. “This is a sound agreement that paves the way for our local bargaining with Kaiser Mid-Atlantic that will take place in 2020. “What’s been most positive about this process is how it has galvanized member activism,” Harris said. To read more about the key provisions of the three-year national agreement look for the article in the Union Leader.

UFCW Local 400 Reaches Agreement to Represent Employees of Maryland Medical Marijuana Provider
Local 400 has reached an agreement with Bethesda Biomedical, Inc. to represent medical marijuana workers in Maryland once the state approves the company’s license to operate. The agreement guarantees high wages, healthcare, a pension and other benefits to future employees of Bethesda Biomedical. The contract covers pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, cultivators and laboratory technicians on both the manufacturing and retail sides of the business.


Edwards, Rasoul Say They Will Push General Assembly for Minimum Wage Increase in Virginia
Unfortunately, not all of the candidates who won in the elections in Virginia last week are friends of working people. We did work hard to help re-elect John Edwards and Sam Rasoul in Roanoke, who promised to introduce legislation to raise the minimum wage.
Check out the report on it, featuring Kroger member Kristy Key! We will continue to fight for $15 in every state!

For The First Time Ever, IKEA Employees Go On Strike in US
On November 16, 2015 employees at the Stoughton, Massachusetts IKEA went on strike, shutting down normal store operations in an effort to improve the lives of hard-working IKEA workers and their families. The striking employees are the first unionized retail workers at the U.S. IKEA store, and are taking this action in response to IKEA USA’s refusal to recognize their union and enter into contract negotiations. Read more on
the UFCW Blog.


Dan Chem Workers Ratify New Collective Bargaining Agreement
Monday, December 7, 2015 Dan Chem workers ratified a new three-year agreement that improves the lives of 68 members working at the location in Danville, VA. The agreement raises their living standards and protects their health and welfare benefits. Local 400 members defeated all concessions proposed by the company while adding new language around reporting pay and safety shoe allowance.


Kroger Calls Police On Union For Giving Away Free Turkeys

Despite bringing a positive message to Kroger shoppers, management called the police.

Despite bringing a positive message to Kroger shoppers, management called the police.

This week, Kroger employees and UFCW Local 400 organizers were met with the new, hostile union-busting efforts of the company in Virginia Beach.

On Sunday, at the peak of the Thanksgiving shopping season, Kroger employees and Local 400 organizers greeted customers at a new Marketplace in Portsmouth. Customers could “spin the wheel” to win free prizes, including Thanksgiving turkeys. Moms and dads shopping with their children lined up to play for a chance to win and express their appreciation for Kroger associates.

Kroger’s response? They called the police.

The turkeys were purchased at Kroger, they were given away to customers for Thanksgiving, and yet, because it was a union-organized event, the company responded with extreme measures. This was just a taste of the new, anti-union Kroger.

To compete with Walmart – a company infamous for its poor treatment of associates and radical, harsh efforts to prevent employees from exercising their rights to form a union – Kroger seems to be adopting those same policies.

The company is opening new Walmart-style “Marketplace” stores, which are much larger than traditional Kroger stores and feature an expanded selection of non-grocery items. In Virginia, Kroger has opened five of these stores non-union in the Richmond-Tidewater area.

But unlike Walmart, three out of every four Kroger employees are already union members with legal contracts. To prevent employees from having those same protections at a new Marketplace, Kroger won’t allow union members to work there.

Shortly after opening these new Marketplace stores, the company closed a store in Portsmouth employing more than 100 people. But instead of transferring staff to one of the new Kroger Marketplace stores nearby, the company gave them two choices: commute to one of the old stores hours away from home, or lose your job.

“I felt betrayed,” said one member at the time. Many people lost their jobs. Those that stayed on are struggling now. Felecia Mayes worked as a cashier in Portsmouth for 17 years, and now she has to take three buses and a light rail to Norfolk to get to work everyday. It takes her three hours to get home even though there are newer Marketplace stores just miles away from where she lives.

Meanwhile, the company spreads misinformation and anti-union messages to associates. Whereas some store managers used to tell associates about Kroger’s positive relationship with  the union, now, they tell employees to be afraid and keep silent.

On Monday, Kroger called the police yet again on Local 400 staff, this time for talking to associates inside the Marketplace store in Virginia Beach. Despite a collective bargaining agreement with clear language giving union staff access to the stores to talk to employees about joining the union, Kroger management ordered Local 400 organizers out of the store. They then called the Virginia Beach Police Department and had them escort the organizers out of the store in full view of frightened and intimidated Kroger associates and customers.

This is not the way to beat Walmart. Kroger can be better. As a union, we want Kroger to be the best company it can be. We want it to be a good place to shop and a great place to work. But to beat Walmart, Kroger should not become Walmart.

Photos from the Day: