Following union boss-ordered January strike, nonmember workers now face thousands in ‘internal union fines’ in violation of longstanding federal law
Denver, CO (July 25, 2022) – Another King Soopers grocery worker has filed federal charges against the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 union in response to union officials illegally threatening to fine the worker, who chose to exercise her right to work during a strike. The case, filed with the National Labor Relations Board, is the third recently filed by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys for King Soopers employees challenging retaliatory fines by UFCW union officials.
Grocery worker Hope Schaefer has not been a union member for more than a decade, something union officials previously acknowledged in a 2011 letter. Despite this, UFCW union officials falsely accused her of working behind a picket line while still a union member during the union’s 10-day strike and threatened a fine of nearly $4,000.
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 to the high profile strike, the Foundation issued a legal notice informing the affected workers of their rights that union officials often hide, including the right to continue to work to support their families. The notice warned workers that to protect themselves from being subjected to internal “union discipline” such as fines for defying union strike orders workers should first resign their formal union membership.
The Foundation legal notice also noted that during past UFCW-instigated strikes workers faced unlawful fines, which union officials claim can only be disputed at internal union kangaroo courts. However, with free legal aid from Foundation attorneys, many 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.
In June, Foundation staff attorneys filed NLRB charges against UFCW Local 7 after union officials similarly sought to illegally levy heavy fines against King Soopers grocery workers Nick Hall and Marcelo Ruybal despite not being voluntary union members. Reportedly UFCW union bosses have issued similar threats to numerous workers with fines of “$250 per day… as well as all monies earned … from King Soopers during [the] dates of these violations.”
“Workers should not have to choose between feeding their families and bending the knee to union bosses during UFCW-imposed strikes,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “But in what has become an unfortunately predictable pattern, rather than accept limits to their unique government-granted power, UFCW union bosses are once again violating federal law to punish independent-minded workers.”
“Other King Soopers workers facing similar fines should know they can reach out to Foundation staff attorneys 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.