Albertsons Sought to Intimidate Workers, UFCW Says

LOS ANGELES -- The United Food and Commercials Workers Union said here yesterday it plans to file a complaint later this week with the National Labor Relations Board against Albertsons, charging that the chain sought to intimidate employees in Southern California on the eve of their vote on whether or not to authorize a strike.

LOS ANGELES -- The United Food and Commercials Workers Union said here yesterday it plans to file a complaint later this week with the National Labor Relations Board against Albertsons, charging that the chain sought to intimidate employees in Southern California on the eve of their vote on whether or not to authorize a strike. In that vote, Albertsons employees voted overwhelmingly to authorize negotiators to call a strike if they are unable to come to agreement on a new contract. Although union officials declined to pinpoint the vote totals, a store employee told reporters during a conference call that the vote was considerably higher than the 66% required to authorize a strike. Regarding the NLRB complaint, the union said Albertsons had engaged in unlawful activity after the strike authorization vote was scheduled that included forcing employees to attend meetings in which they watched and discussed an anti-union video; sending union activists home to keep them from speaking to fellow employees; and offering to drive employees to the vote meetings if they planned to vote against the authorization, among other possible violations. Stephanie Martin, a spokeswoman for Albertsons in Southern California, said the company‘s actions were “lawful activities” to ensure its employees were “as informed as possible to make a decision that best benefits themselves and their families.” She said employees were encouraged to “ask questions, get the correct facts and know they have the right to vote for or against a strike authorization.” The current contract, which expired March 5, has been extended through April 9. -- Elliot Zwiebach