The Stand

Richland Fred Meyer workers: Union Yes!

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Frontline grocery workers unionize with UFCW 1439 amid ongoing pandemic

 

The following is from UFCW Local 1439:  

RICHLAND, Wash. (Dec. 7, 2021) — United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1439, the union for 7,000 frontline workers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, announced Monday that approximately 250 grocery workers at Fred Meyer in Richland will join the union after a victorious union election, marking the first time in recent history that an entire store of grocery workers in the state have done so.

“This is an unprecedented victory, inspired by the sacrifices of essential grocery workers during the pandemic,” said UFCW Local 1439 Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Hofstader. “We hope this inspires other grocery workers to stand up and exercise their rights.”

With the National Labor Relations Board tally of mail-in ballots now complete, the UFCW Local 1439 victory for Fred Meyer grocery workers in Richland now paves the way for these new union members to move forward in bargaining their first union contract to strengthen pay, benefits and working conditions.

“I’m so proud of myself and my coworkers,” said Fred Meyer Richland Grocery Cashier Roxanne Reynolds. “I support the union because employees need a way to hold Kroger accountable to their promises.”

As the union election approached, the Fred Meyer workers consistently called on Kroger, Fred Meyer’s parent company, to do more to create quality jobs, address high turnover, and implement more consistent schedules. Instead, Kroger responded by holding union-busting meetings on paid time, increasing management presence in the store with managers coming in from across the state, and surveilling workers who engaged in union activities.

“After working through a pandemic while struggling with understaffing and being paid less than other retail and grocery workers, I think it’s disrespectful that Kroger decided to try to scare us out of forming a union instead of respecting our decision,” said Fred Meyer Richland Dairy Clerk Jeremy Brewer. “Instead of addressing our concerns, my managers constantly tried to pressure us to vote against our own best interest. That’s not right.”

Workers will now sit down with Kroger management to bargain their first union contract.

UFCW Local 1439 represents over 7,000 essential workers in Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho, and Northeastern Oregon. Union members work in grocery stores, meatpacking houses, offices, and pharmacies. Learn more at ufcw1439.org.

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