Longform

In its war for new members, a labor union is using dirty tricks to turn Hispanics against Bashas'

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Craig Milum inherited the business from his father, who taught his son how to stave off unions after a few successful battles of his own. He admits he's made a few changes because of Unite Here!'s campaign, but he doesn't want the union coming in and telling him how to run his company. He says his wages are competitive and, in some cases, his workers make more than their unionized counterparts.

Milum is angry at the union, which may have played right into its hands. Unite Here! claims Milum disciplined employees for wearing union buttons and for conducting other union activity during work hours.

Milum says he wants his workers to vote up or down on the union in a secret-ballot election.

As with Bashas', the campaign at Milum is focused on avoiding an election and forcing the company to accept unionization based on signatures solicited by the union. Callaci says he's just trying to make life better for Milum employees like Evangelina Guzman, a single mother of five who claims Milum fired her for supporting the union.

At a meeting with New Times, Guzman and two current Milum workers complain that the company often did not allow workers to reach full-time status, telling them to stop work after about 36 hours so they wouldn't qualify for health benefits.

But it turned out the union wasn't treating Guzman much better.

Guzman, who says she's a legal immigrant from Mexico, began working for the union a few months ago. The union pay is good, she says, but she gets to work only about 36 hours a week.

She adds that she gets no health benefits — all her kids are on the state's indigent healthcare plan, AHCCCS, just as when she was at Milum.

Asked about the blatant double standard, Callaci admits it might seem hypocritical.

A few weeks later, Callaci phones New Times to say, in a sheepish voice, the union is now covering Guzman and her kids under its healthcare plan.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.