Union Files More Charges Against Dominick's

CHICAGO - The United Food and Commercial Workers union representing 8,900 cashiers, clerks and stockers of Dominick's Finer Foods has filed an expanded set of charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), accusing the grocer of bad faith bargaining and a host of other unfair labor practices, Crain's Chicago Business reports.

The second NLRB complaint follows a Nov. 7 filing by two locals of the UFCW, which claimed parent Safeway Inc. acted illegally when it threatened to close its 113 Dominick's stores here if union members go on strike. Safeway said it would take such drastic action in a Nov. 4 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A spokeswoman for UFCW Local 881 said more unfair labor practices have come to light since it filed the first complaint. The amended complaint includes five additional charges, including claims that Dominick's negotiated directly with its employees and offered to buy votes in support of a new labor contract.

In a statement, union attorney Jonathan Karmel said, "These charges are part of a pattern of serious violations of federal labor law by the management of Safeway and Dominick's."

A Dominick's spokeswoman said the charges are "baseless and without merit," and that the company will defend itself to the NLRB.

The union and Safeway, which says it needs to cut labor costs to compete with Jewel-Osco, are trying to hammer out a labor contract to replace the one that expired Nov. 9. As tense negotiations continue, Safeway maintains it will not improve a "best and final offer."

The union on Sunday rejected the concession-laden proposal, and authorized its leadership to call a strike if necessary. Unsatisfied, Safeway called for a union re-vote, claiming that labor leaders pressured employees to vote against the contract.

Union leaders refused to revote and said the vote was handled fairly and appropriately.

While there have been reports that companies like Supervalu and Kroger might entertain the notion of buying Dominick's, Safeway says it has received no offers. Meijer and Schnucks also are said to be monitoring the situation, according to published reports.
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