“They threw me under the bus.”
Fortunately for Local 400 member Eric Jarrett, that wasn’t the end of the story.
Eric works as an overnight stocker at Safeway #1019 in Alexandria, Virginia. His store is one of the few locations that is supposed to be open 24 hours.
But one night, Eric was instructed to close the store when there was no cashier on duty. Even though he was following instructions, Eric’s manager suspended him and one of his coworkers.
“You have to have at least one checker in the store for it to stay open,” Eric said. “But the guy who normally does the job had hurt his shoulder and was home for two weeks. So the store had to be closed occasionally because we had no checker or because the floors had to be waxed. The store manager knew all about it. When customers started complaining, instead of accepting responsibility, they blamed it on J.P., another stocker, and me. But I am in no position to close the store. I wasn’t the one who decided to do it.”
Eric and J.P. didn’t take this sitting down. They worked with their union representative and immediately filed a grievance and pursued it aggressively.
“I was out of work for three and a half weeks,” Eric said. “Tom [Rogers, his Local 400 representative] spoke on my behalf and did a marvelous job of getting me reinstated as fast as he could. I was impatient and apprehensive, but Tom calmed me down. He knew what he was doing and reached a good settlement.”
Eric and J.P. were reinstated and Eric was awarded full back pay for the time of his suspension and justice was served.
“I’m good where I’m at right now, but as far as I’m concerned, Safeway owes J.P. and me an apology for throwing us under the bus,” Eric said. “Safeway used to be a good company, but they don’t care about their employees, only the bottom line. They’re making lots of money in my store, but they keep cutting back hours and running on a skeleton crew. This company can’t run by itself — they need us. I’m just thankful our union’s got our backs.”