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Giant Food Member Wins Grievance, Keeps Job, Gets Back Pay

Loan Cao

Loan Cao, a 29-year member of Local 400 from Giant Food, holds up her backpay check for a photo with union representatives Bertha McKiver (left) and Neil Jacobs (right).

For Loan Cao, it was seven-week ordeal, but thanks to her union, it was one with a happy ending.

A 29-year Local 400 member who works in the front end at Giant Food #795 in Springfield, Va., Loan was suddenly fired on December 11, 2018. She was alleged to have done something wrong when she was closing the store one night, but another employee who did the exact same thing received no discipline whatsoever.

“I felt really sad, like they don’t care about me at all,” Loan said. “I try to do the job right. I know I made a mistake but it seemed like they used it as an excuse to tell me they don’t want me anymore.”

“It seems like Giant’s been trying to drive people out who have seniority because they make higher salaries,” she said. “I hope I’m wrong about that, but they don’t seem to appreciate people who’ve worked for them for so many years.”

Fair treatment is a fundamental right under your union contract. As the saying goes, “with a union contract, your boss can’t fire you without just cause. But without a union, your boss can fire you just ’cause.” Management is not allowed to discipline one worker more harshly than another employee who is disciplined for the same thing.

With the help of her Local 400 representative, Bertha McKiver, Loan immediately filed a grievance, charging unfair treatment. The process was delayed by the Christmas and New Year holidays, but Local 400 persisted. Giant tried to fight the grievance, but when it became clear it would go to arbitration, the company settled. It agreed to give Loan her job back and wrote her a back pay check for $6,800. She started work again on February 2, 2019.

“Oh my God, it felt like heaven,” Loan said of learning she had won her grievance. “I never expected this. What my union did for me, I’m so happy.

“When Giant told me I was fired, I was numb and couldn’t cry,” she said. “But when Bertha called me to say I got my job back, this time I cried and cried. I never expected my union to help me so well. I’m so very thankful.”

Hundreds of Kroger Associates Win $90,000 Settlement in West Virginia

Pictured left to right, back row first: David Simpson, Gary Southall, Shawn Cantrell, Chelsea Snow, Stephen Bumgardner and Randy Fields at Kroger #725 in St. Albans, W.Va.

Hundreds of Local 400 members are about to receive back pay checks after winning a $90,000 settlement against Kroger, following a grievance against the company over lengthy delays in implementing raises provided for under the terms of their contract.

Kroger members in West Virginia ratified a new contract last Fall that provided raises for backups and night crew workers. The contract was ratified on November 6, but the raises were supposed to take effect retroactively to October 7, 2017—the date the previous contract expired. But Kroger didn’t start paying the new raises until February 2018, leaving a roughly four-month gap when hundreds of people should have been paid at the higher rate.

“When we went to a meeting on the contract, I saw that DSD [direct store delivery] people got their raises immediately and someone in pharmacy got a raise in December, but they made us wait until February,” recalled David Simpson, a 38-year Kroger veteran who is shop steward and backup meat cutter at Kroger #725 in St. Albans, W.Va.

“That wasn’t right,” he said. “So I looked into it. I talked to the night crew and meat cutters and they thought they should be getting their raises too.”

David filed a grievance against Kroger and with the assistance of his Local 400 representative, Gary Southall, worded it to ensure that it covered all 522 members affected by the company’s contract violation.

The grievance went through first, second, and third level meetings and each time, Kroger refused to budge. It was finally slated for arbitration and at that point, the company realized it was unlikely to win and negotiated the $90,000 settlement.

“I was very excited about the victory,” Dave said. “A little extra never hurts anybody. I thought I was right all along and this shows Kroger knew it. I told the night crew and everyone was happy.

“Kroger’s always trying to put one over on us and this time we got them instead,” he added.

The $90,000 settlement is being divided equally among the 522 members who were affected. Settlement checks have been mailed and should arrive in members’ mailboxes over the next several days.

Ten Safeway Employees Awarded $11,000 in Back Pay

Alex Falsinotti was awarded more than $1,000 in back pay after Safeway was caught violating the scheduling provisions of his union contract. Nine other Safeway workers were awarded back pay totaling $11,000.

Alex Falsinotti has been working at Safeway #1365 in Fairfax, Virginia for almost two years. Officially he works in the Seafood Department, but on most days whoever is scheduled to work the Meat Department leaves around 2 or 3 p.m., and Alex is forced to man both departments until they officially close at 8:00 p.m.

“I’m expected to clean the counter and help customers and close down the department by myself,” he says. “I try not to get frustrated, but doing this for ten months you get overwhelmed.

Under our union contracts at Safeway and Giant Food, the companies are required to staff the Meat Department from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. every day. Furthermore, one person cannot be required to close both the Meat and Seafood departments at the same time.

Alex didn’t know this was a violation of his union contract, but he knew it wasn’t right. “I didn’t want to be rude to the manager but I came to him more than once and said, ‘The meat cutter left, is someone else coming?’ And he said, ‘No.’”

Management told him that they were short-staffed and didn’t have anyone that they could schedule to help him out.

This problem came to the attention of his union representative, Bertha McKiver, last October. After visiting several Safeway stores throughout Virginia, including Alex’s store in Fairfax, Bertha noticed a pattern – in store after store where meat departments were supposed to be open and fully staffed, the lights were off and the areas were cleaned up.

Bertha filed grievances at five stores throughout Virginia (#1298, #1331, #4002, #1606 and #1365). As a result of the grievances, Alex and nine other Safeway employees were awarded back pay totaling $11,000 for the hours they should have been scheduled to work. One individual had lost so many hours he was awarded $1,300 in back pay after taxes.

Since Bertha’s success with the grievances against Safeway, several people have called her from other stores with similar complaints. If you work in the Meat or Seafood department at Safeway or Giant Food, report scheduling violations using the form below. You could be entitled to back pay if your manager violated the scheduling provisions of your union contract.

Report Scheduling Violations in Meat & Seafood Departments at Giant & Safeway

Under our union contracts at Safeway and Giant Food,

  1. 1. The Meat Department must be staffed from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. every day.
  2. 2. One person cannot be required to close both the Meat and Seafood departments.
  3. 3. The Meat Department can only be closed by a Meat Department employee.

Fill out the form below to report scheduling violations in the Meat and Seafood departments at Giant Food and Safeway. A union representative will follow up with you shortly.

  • Please enter your store number or location.
  • Please check all that apply.
  • Please submit any photo evidence of the scheduling violation.
    Drop files here or
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.