Kroger Employee Alleges Company Illegally Seized Money From Paycheck

Federal charges also include allegations that union threatened to fire worker for refusing to sign membership form
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Kroger store - Indy
An Ohio Kroger employee just hit the UFCW union and Kroger with federal charges for allegedly seizing money illegally from his paycheck.

An employee of Kroger’s location in the Fairfield Center Mall Shopping Center, in Ohio, has hit the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 75 union with federal charges, claiming that union officials threatened him with termination for refusing to sign an illegal union membership form. Kroger is also charged with illegally transferring dues money from the employee’s paycheck to the union.

The worker, James Carroll, submitted his charges at Region 9 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in Cincinnati, with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation.

Carroll alleges that the form UFCW union bosses forced him to sign is an illegal “dual purpose” membership form, which seeks only one employee signature for authorization of both union membership and dues deductions. Federal labor law requires that any authorization for union dues deductions be voluntary and separate from a union membership application. 

Because Ohio lacks Right to Work protections for its private-sector workers, NLRB explained that UFCW union officials have the power to impose contracts that force Carroll and his coworkers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of keeping a job, even if they are nonmembers. However, union officials must always seek employees’ explicit consent before instructing an employer to deduct union dues directly from a worker’s paycheck, and forced-dues amounts can never include money that goes toward a union’s political activity. In Right to Work states, union dues payment is strictly voluntary.

Carroll claims that Kroger has continued to seize full union dues from his paycheck at the request of UFCW officials, despite his lack of consent. 

Kroger did not provide a statement on the matter at press time. 

In February 2023, Houston-area Kroger worker Jessica Haefner also filed federal charges against the UFCW for unlawfully seizing union dues from her paycheck.

“Federal law protects the right of workers to make free choices about formal union membership, and gives workers in non-Right to Work states like Ohio some ability to avoid paying for union politics and other union expenditures. But union bosses bent on obtaining greater control over workers and their pocketbooks pose real-life obstacles to exercising these rights, as do complicit employers like Kroger,” noted Mark Mix, president of the Springfield, Va.-based National Right to Work Foundation. “We’re proud to help Mr. Carroll defend his rights, but ultimately Ohio workers need the protection of a Right to Work law.”

Nearly half a million associates of Cincinnati-based Kroger serve more than 11 million customers daily through a digital shopping experience and retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America

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