Bashas' employees who say they're tired of a labor union's dirty tactics have launched a "grassroots effort" to strike back.
The group "Save Our Stores" is fighting against the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 99, which has targeted the locally run chain for unionization. We covered the battle and exposed some of the union's tactics in a feature story last year.
The new effort by employees made for an unusual sight today in Phoenix as employees of a corporation turned out to picket the offices of a labor union. The group, which sent a letter to New Times this week about its efforts, also put on a protest last month.
"You should have seen the look of disbelief on [Local 99 President] Jim McLaughlin's face!" says the letter of the May 1 protest.
Employees say they are hoping more employees join the group, which will continue to protest the UFCW.
In other Bashas' news, the company also released a news release today touting the dismissal of three labor complaints:
UNION WITHDRAWS CHARGES AGAINST BASHAS'
ARIZONA (May 19, 2009) With no evidence to back up its allegations, the United Food and Commercial Workers union (Local 99) was recently forced to withdraw three unfair labor practice charges it had filed against Bashas'.
The UFCW's first withdrawn charge alleged that Bashas' terminated 19 AJ's employees at a Scottsdale store "because they supported the union." The other charges accused two different store managers of "surveilling" employees.
Prior to these withdrawals, the UFCW staged a series of highly publicized protests outside of the AJ's store at Scottsdale and Lincoln Roads in Scottsdale. During these protests, UFCW organizers (who came from as far as California to participate) repeatedly claimed that the company terminated these individuals "for supporting the union," and for alleged "age discrimination." The union also claimed that Bashas' wanted "to avoid paying unemployment benefits."
"From a legal standpoint, when a charging party opts to withdraw an unfair labor charge, it's typically because the Board confirms there isn't enough evidence to move forward," said Gregg Tucek, Bashas' Vice President of Legal Affairs. "The Board then will advise the charging party to either provide more evidence to support the charge, or the Board will dismiss the charge. So, lacking any substance to back up their allegations, the UFCW decided to completely withdraw the charges. That should tell us all we need to know about how baseless the allegations were," he said.
Despite withdrawing its labor charge, in a May 17 East Valley Tribune article ("Bashas' holding its ground in grocery market"), union spokesman Cory Owens continues to cite union affiliation as the reason for the AJ's terminations.
In actuality, the employees were terminated for causing aggregate losses to the company in excess of $13,000. Further, the union already represents employees at this particular location. (Bashas' inherited the UFCW after acquiring eight unionized stores years ago.)
"These withdrawals confirm one thing: our facts continue to outweigh the UFCW's fiction," said Tucek. "The UFCW gets more mileage out of allegations than they do the truth."
Bashas' filed a defamation lawsuit against the UFCW in December 2007 for a number of reasons: conducting defamatory phone surveys; distributing negative flyers, door hangers and direct mail pieces; crafting, distributing and publicizing inflammatory and false reports; accusing the company of selling expired products, then planting expired products on store shelves; calling in false reports to governmental agencies alleging health code and other operational violations; organizing public demonstrations both inside and outside of stores, with the goal of disrupting and discouraging business; showing up uninvited to homes of Bashas' employees; arranging "town-hall-style" meetings to publicly attack Bashas'; paying for automated pre-recorded phone and text messages that disparage Bashas' and Food City stores; paying a prominent and recognizable media outlet to defame Bashas'; handsomely funding vocal community activists to serve as spokespersons against Bashas'; and making personal home visits to encourage shoppers to boycott Bashas' and Food City stores.