News Release

Grocery Union Faces Federal Charges for Violating Teenage Ralphs Grocery Clerk's Workplace Rights

Union officials threaten teenage worker with job termination

Oceanside, CA (September 5, 2013) – A local grocery union is facing federal charges for violating a teenage part-time Ralphs Grocery clerk's workplace rights.

With free legal assistance from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the Ralphs clerk filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 135 union late last month.

UFCW Local 135 union officials provided the clerk in July with a membership packet that illegally stated that the clerk and other new hires must join the union and pay full union dues as a condition of their employment while burying notice of his actual legal rights. Information about workers' right to refrain from full dues paying union membership was located at the back of the packet in fine print.

The clerk eventually learned about his right to refrain from full dues paying union membership and made multiple inquiries about resigning his union membership and paying reduced dues with UFCW Local 135 brass. The clerk's multiple requests were denied, stonewalled, or ignored.

In mid-August, the union hierarchy again demanded the clerk join the union and pay full dues and initiation fees or get fired. Union officials sent a third letter a week later demanding the teenage clerk appear at the union hall if he wished to refrain from union membership. They also demanded his social security number in order to exercise his right to not join the union.

Because California does not have Right to Work protections making union affiliation completely voluntary, nonmember workers can be forced to pay part of union dues to keep their jobs. However, workers who refrain from union membership can refrain from paying dues used for union politics and members-only events.

UFCW union brass also failed to follow federal disclosure requirements that allow workers to know what amounts they can be forced to pay as a condition of their employment, and explain the union's financial calculations.

"UFCW union officials are blatantly violating federal law to keep their forced dues gravy train going," said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. "This case underscores the need for California to pass a Right to Work law making union affiliation and dues payments completely voluntary."

Twenty-four states have Right to Work protections for employees. Public polling shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans and union members support the principle of voluntary unionism.

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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