News Release

Grocery Store Union Bosses Face Federal Charges After Blocking Workers from Stopping Dues Payments

Local union officials and Fry’s Food Stores management collude illegally to extract forced dues from independent-minded workers

Phoenix, AZ (December 23, 2009) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation, five employees from different Fry’s Food Stores locations have filed federal charges challenging their employer’s and a local union’s efforts to block them from stopping the seizure of union dues from their paychecks.

Disgusted with recent union strike threats, large numbers of employees withdrew from the union, but union officials are now retaliating by refusing to honor their legal rights and getting Fry’s management to deduct and forward the union dues money anyway.

Shirley Jones of Mesa, Karen Medley and Elaine Brown of Apache Junction, and Kimberly Stewart and Kristy Dickenson of Queen Creek – acting for other similarly situated employees – filed federal unfair labor practice charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 99 union bosses and Fry’s.

In the midst of a well-publicized UFCW Local 99 union-threatened strike in November 2009, the employees resigned from the UFCW union and revoked their dues deduction authorizations during a time in which the UFCW union did not have a contract at their workplaces. Under Arizona’s popular Right to Work law no worker can be required to join or pay any money to a union, and under federal labor law, if there is no longer a bargaining agreement in effect between union officials and an employer, employees can revoke their dues deduction authorizations at any time.

Dues deduction authorizations are used by union officials to automatically withhold dues from employee paychecks. Despite the employees’ best efforts to halt the dues seizures, Fry’s continues to illegally collect from the employees union dues for the UFCW union hierarchy.

The charges will now be investigated by the NLRB regional director in Phoenix, who can prosecute the union officials and the company for violating the employees’ legal rights.

“Despite repeated requests, UFCW Local 99 and company officials have ignored workers’ attempts to exercise their right to stop paying union dues” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “We intend to make sure that UFCW operatives play by the rules and stop extracting union dues from workers who want nothing to do with this unaccountable union.”

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, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.

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