WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 30, 2023) – On Thursday, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 Union, along with a coalition of 20 supporting organizations, is holding a press conference to announce a consumer boycott of Union Kitchen stores:
|What:||Press conference announcing boycott of Union Kitchen|
|When:||4:00 p.m., Thursday, June 1, 2023|
|Where:||Union Kitchen Eckington, 1625 Eckington Pl NE, Washington, DC 20002|
Organizers are launching the boycott of Union Kitchen in response to management’s ongoing and unlawful efforts to undermine the workers’ union, including firing multiple employees for union activity, in violation of federal law.
“We didn’t make this decision lightly. We have tried meeting with management on multiple occasions, we’ve filed charges against Union Kitchen through the Labor Board, and we’ve even filed a lawsuit against the company,” said Eric Rosenthal, who works at the 8th Street Union Kitchen location. “Simply put, we have exhausted all proper channels and management still refuses to fairly negotiate a contract. That is why we have taken the extraordinary step of calling for a consumer boycott of Union Kitchen.”
Workers at five Union Kitchen locations in DC and Virginia democratically voted to unionize but were not officially recognized until June of last year, after a lengthy legal battle in which management attempted to overturn the election results. The effort was sparked after employees learned that Union Kitchen wasn’t paying them their tips. When they complained, Union Kitchen eliminated tipping altogether in retaliation against them. Now, they’ve filed a lawsuit to take the owner to court over this wage theft.
Even after officially unionizing, management continued its aggressive and unlawful effort to undermine the union. The National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint alleging that Union Kitchen was guilty of 26 violations of federal law after it fired workers just for supporting their union, among other violations. But even after it settled those allegations for $25,000 earlier this year, Union Kitchen immediately continued its anti-union campaign. Since then, multiple new allegations have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
In a letter delivered to management last week, a coalition of organizations notified Union Kitchen management of their intent to boycott the company if it continues its unlawful anti-union campaign.
“We are prepared to mobilize our expansive base of volunteers to be present in front of every Union Kitchen location to urge your customers to shop elsewhere and we are willing to do so for as long as it takes,” the letter read.
The letter emphasized that a boycott is not the goal, but has proven necessary given the company’s refusal to fairly negotiate a contract. “This is not an action we wish to take. Boycotting Union Kitchen is not our goal. We would much rather be uplifting Union Kitchen to our constituents as a model employer that makes an unmistakably positive contribution to our community. But in order to do that, we must be convinced you are committed to fairly negotiating a collective bargaining agreement.”
A copy of the letter can be read here. Since the letter was transmitted to management last week, additional organizations – including the Washington Metropolitan Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which is the federation of hundreds of local unions in the DC area – have also signed on to endorse the effort.
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United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 is led by President Mark Federici and represents 35,000 members working in the grocery, retail, health care, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. www.ufcw400.org