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UFCW Local 7 represents 23,000 workers at grocery stores, meat packing facilities, and food processing plants.

Judge says Colorado union, president both violated federal labor law

UFCW Local 7 president countered that she prioritized member needs over staff

A National Labor Relations Board judge has found that Colorado’s largest private sector union violated federal labor law in how it treated internal, union-represented employees.

According to a 53-page report, the union was found to be in violation of labor laws by refusing to bargain with its internal, union-represented employees, as well as by inviting workers to resign in response to complaints about working conditions. UFCW Local 7 President Kim Cordova was also found to be in violation of the National Labor Relations Act when she allegedly tried to convince union employees to drop their association with their union, according to the report, issued Feb. 8 by National Labor Relations Board Judge Eleanor Laws. 

UFCW Local 7 represents 23,000 workers at grocery stores, meat packing facilities, and food processing plants.

Other findings from the report include: 

  • Union employees were required to return their work equipment because they might strike
  • Employees were required to check in and check out their equipment each day
  • Disparaging or denigrating the UFCW 7 workers’ union, the Federation of Agents & International Representatives Union (FAIR)
  • The union violated federal labor rules by falsely telling employees that during a bargaining session FAIR told Cordova to discipline and fire staff
  • The union failed to continue the grievance procedure in the FAIR collective bargaining agreements after they expired
  • The union failed and refused to bargain in good faith, “including by insisting as a condition of reaching a successor collective bargaining agreements that FAIR consent to a non mandatory bargaining proposal”

Cordova was also found to be acting inappropriately following a Zoom call with local and national union leaders after union staffers put in long hours in cold weather during a nine-day King Soopers strike.

According to the report, Cordova did not attend the Zoom call but called a staff meeting and reprimanded the group. Cordova also stated the employees were well paid and could leave at any time if they were unhappy, the report said.

“Regardless of the precise words Cordova uttered,” Laws said, “the employees at the meeting were essentially presented with two choices: Either suck it up and deal with the adverse working conditions or work elsewhere.”

But Cordova counters that she was just looking out for Local 7’s members.

“I took action to place the needs of Local 7’s hardworking membership – many of whom earn less than $25 per hour – ahead of the needs of our represented staff – most of whom earn more than $100,000 a year and are seeking an even richer contract with enhanced benefits,” Cordova said in an emailed statement to Supermarket News. “The National Labor Relations Board failed to consider the harms to rank and file members that come with upholding these types of allegations. Unfortunately, it seems this decision was largely about preventing Local 7 staff members from voting on whether they wish to remain a part of the FAIR staff union.”

Local 7 said it was pleased to learn about Judge Laws’ dismissal of several allegations, including dismissing claims that the union unlawfully terminated an employee, according to a statement from the union. Local 7 also said the NLRB had also rejected claims brought on behalf of other disgruntled former staffers.

“Sadly, these former employees appear to only be interested in personal financial gain,” said Cordova, who is seeking a sixth three-year term as president. “Meanwhile, I’m focused exclusively on helping Local 7 members secure stronger contracts and stopping the disastrous proposed merger between Kroger and Albertsons.”

Local 7 said it will docket exceptions to Judge Law’s decision in the coming days.

 

 

 

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