A Houston-area Kroger employee has filed federal charges against the retailer for seizing union dues using an altered union card.
Jessica Haefner, a Kroger employee in Cypress, Texas, has hit the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union at her workplace and her employer with federal charges, claiming that the union and Kroger officials are unlawfully seizing union dues from her paycheck. Haefner filed the charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with free legal representation from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
On Aug. 22, 2022, Haefner attended a mandatory orientation meeting, during which she was required to listen to a UFCW agent, according to her charges. The UFCW agent passed out a union membership application and a dues checkoff on a single form that he claimed was mandatory for attendees to complete. Another piece of onboarding literature noted that Kroger management had the “opinion that you should participate and be active in the Union.”
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Haefner claimed that when she asked about how she could exercise her right to refrain from joining the union or paying union dues, the union agent instructed Haefner to write “$0” in the field marked “union dues” on the form.
The employee said that she followed these instructions, but later discovered that union dues were coming out of her wages. According to Haefner, she obtained a copy of the form that Kroger and UFCW officials based their dues deductions on. She claimed that the “$0” she had written in the union dues field had been replaced with an amount of several dollars to cause dues deductions from her paycheck.
Haefner’s charges alleged that UFCW Local 455 union officials’ actions violate her and her coworkers’ rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which guarantees American private-sector workers’ right to abstain from any and all union activities. The NLRB is the federal agency responsible for enforcing the NLRA. Texas’ Right to Work protections also prohibit union officials from forcing private-sector workers like Haefner to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of getting or keeping a job.
At press time, Kroger had not provided comment to Progressive Grocer on the matter.
Nearly half a million associates serve more than 11 million customers daily through Kroger’s digital shopping experience and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The Cincinnati-based company is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.