Charges: Workers weren’t formal union members and exercised legal right to work but were still subjected to excessive, punitive fines

National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys filed charges against United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 union for illegally levying fines against King Soopers grocery chain workers who chose to exercise their right to work during a strike. Charges against the union were filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The unlawful fines issued by union bosses against the workers are more per day than the workers earned in a day of work, totaling more than $3,000 throughout the 10 day strike.

UFCW officials demanded that workers strike against King Soopers grocery stores for more than a week in January 2022, impacting more than 8,000 employees. In response, Foundation staff attorneys issued a legal notice informing the affected workers of their rights that union officials often hide, including that the workers have the right to continue to work to support their families.

“The situation raises serious concerns for employees who believe there is much to lose from a union-ordered strike,” the legal notice reads. “That is why workers frequently contact the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to learn how they can avoid fines and other oppressive union discipline for continuing to report to work.”

During past UFCW-instigated strikes workers faced similar unlawful fines, which union officials claim can only be disputed at internal union kangaroo courts. However, with free legal aid from the Foundation, workers have successfully challenged such fines on the grounds that union bosses have no authority to levy such fines against workers who are not fully voluntary union members.

As today’s charges note, that is the case for King Soopers grocery workers Nick Hall and Marcelo Ruybal, whom union bosses are threatening to fine $812 and $3,800 respectively despite them not being voluntary union members. According to one news report, UFCW Local 7 union officials threatened workers who exercised their right to work during the strike that they “shall be subject to a fine of $250 per day of the violation, as well as all monies earned by you from King Soopers during said dates of these violations.”

In a similar case for two Stop & Shop grocery workers in New England, Foundation staff attorneys won a settlement earlier against UFCW officials for issuing illegal fines for working during an April 2019 strike.  That settlement required UFCW union officials to post remedial rights notices in over 70 Stop & Shop stores and return dues seized from the two workers in violation of their rights.

“Once again union bosses have been caught red-handed retaliating against rank-and-file workers who exercised their rights to work despite the UFCW’s strike demands,’” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said. “No worker should have to pick between feeding their family and toeing the union line, and we’re proud to assist these workers in standing up to union bullies.”

“Other King Soopers workers facing similar fines should know they can reach out to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal assistance in challenging such excessive, retaliatory fines,” added Mix.

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.

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