UFCW Levies Charges vs. Giant, Safeway

LANDOVER, Md. — United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 here said Friday that it has filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board accusing Safeway [3] and Giant-Landover [4] of violating worker rights during the ongoing labor negotiations there.

The union said the chains have told employees that they will post hiring notices for replacement workers in case there is a strike, and have adopted “draconian” social media policies that serve to limit employees’ commentary on social media websites. The chains also have asked employees to stop distributing pro-union business cards.

"If Giant and Safeway think that trying to intimidate, frighten and silence their workers will force us to bow to their demands, they've got another thing coming," said Tom McNutt, president of Local 400. "In fact, they're having the exact opposite impact. Our members are empowered, we are united, and we've got each others' backs.”

Giant issued a statement saying that hiring temporary workers to prepare for a possible work stoppage is not an unusal move.

"While Giant does not want a work stoppage — and does not believe there’s a reason for one — we must be prepared to keep our stores open and provide the outstanding quality and service that our customers have come to expect. We have an obligation to preserve our business by operating normally while a new agreement is negotiated."

The company also said it has "engaged in good faith negotiations to reach a fair and reasonable contract that benefits our associates and their families, our customers, and our company," and said the terms it has offered "are fundamentally similar to our proposals in years past, none of which ever resulted in the reaction that we’re seeing today at the bargaining table, nor did they result in frivolous grievance filings by the union."

The two sides have been meeting since Jan. 11 on contracts covering about 16,300 workers in the Washington, D.C., area, set to expire March 31.

A Safeway spokesman could not be reached for comment.