Stock photo

Stock photo

Grocery store workers have right to wear Black Lives Matter buttons

National Labor Relations Board ruling against ban by Kroger-owned QFC, Fred Meyer

QFC and Fred Meyer violated federal labor law when store officials prohibited workers from wearing union-sponsored Black Lives Matter buttons, according to a ruling by Region 19 of the National Labor Relations Board.

Seattle-based UFCW 21 announced in a Sept. 17 press release that the board informed the union of the ruling against both companies, which are owned by Kroger.

“Specifically, Region 19 (Alaska, Montana, Oregon and Washington) found merit in UFCW 21’s charges that Kroger violated the law by: 1) failing to bargain with the union over a change in workplace conditions – in this case the practice of allowing the wearing of buttons at work; and 2) prohibiting workers from taking action together – in this case, by wearing Black Lives Matter messages – to protest racism in the workplace and in society, generally,” according to the press release.

Seattle-based Region 19 will now seek a settlement agreement with Kroger, which would likely require a change to company policy, according to the union. If a settlement cannot be reached, Region 19 would typically issue a formal complaint and a trial would be held before an Administrative Law judge, whose ruling would be subject to an appeal to the NLRB in Washington D.C.

“This is very uplifting,” said Sam Dancy a front end supervisor at the Westwood Village QFC in West Seattle. “When workers were trying to speak out through these buttons and collectively say Black Lives Matter and Kroger said to take the buttons off, that was an insult. This decision is welcome news in our work to bring attention to social and racial injustice in the workplace and in our neighborhoods.”

A QFC spokesperson issued the following statement in a Sept. 17 email to the Kent Reporter.

“We look forward to reviewing the proposed settlement agreement,” according to the spokesperson. “Our company is unequivocal in standing with our Black associates, deeply listening and taking action to advance more diverse, inclusive and equitable communities.”

UFCW 21 President Faye Guenther released the following statement.

“In the wake of this welcome action by the NLRB, we are calling on Kroger to respect workers’ rights and take meaningful steps to address racial inequities in Kroger workplaces,” Guenther said. “Among other things, Kroger needs to do a better job of hiring and promoting African Americans at every level of the company and making it clear that it will not tolerate racism from customers or employees.”

After Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd on May 25, 2020, many UFCW 21 members working in grocery and retail stores chose to express their opposition to racism by wearing face masks (otherwise worn for protection from COVID-19) or other items bearing the Black Lives Matter slogan.

Although Kroger issued public statements expressing sympathy with the Black Lives Matter movement, managers at Kroger-owned stores in Western Washington started ordering UFCW 21 members to remove Black Lives Matter masks in August 2020, according to the union press release.

UFCW 21 responded to the company’s Black Lives Matter ban by collaborating with Fred Meyer and QFC workers to distribute union-sponsored Black Lives Matter buttons with the UFCW 21 logo. When managers banned the union buttons, UFCW 21 filed charges in September 2020 with the National Labor Relations Board.

UFCW 21 represents over 46,000 workers at grocery stores, retail, health care and other industry jobs.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Business

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
News of market volatility has felt like a pinball machine lately | Guest column

Webster’s dictionary defines the word volatility as “characterized by or subject to… Continue reading

tsr
Dick’s Drive-In to open new location in Federal Way

This will be Dick’s ninth burger restaurant; plans to open in 2023.

(Left to right) Bill, Nina and Tom Contoravdis, co-owners of Athens Pizza and Pasta, pose for a photo in front of their restaurant that is set to re-open for take-out on Friday, April 1. Photo by Henry Stewart-Wood/Sound Publishing
After 16 months, Athens Pizza and Pasta re-opens on April 1

A fire forced the restaurant to close after 40 years of business in Auburn.

Auburn has embraced Sea Axe, the first ever axe-throwing range ever to settle in the city, as this band of customers demonstrates. Photo courtesy of Duke Managhan
Business partners hit the bullseye with Auburn’s first axe-throwing range

At first, Duke Managhan and his close friend and business partner, Vance… Continue reading

Photo by Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter
Zola’s Café owner Matt Noesen is ready for normal times and business to resume at his downtown Auburn eatery.
Downtown Auburn cafe among businesses awaiting the return to ‘normal’

After all this time, Matt Noesen’s feet and back ache, and the… Continue reading

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
Volatility and disciplined planning in 2022’s stock market | Guest column

The stock market in January experienced significantly increased volatility. In the first… Continue reading

Teaser
SeaAxe Throwing is coming to downtown Auburn

‘It’s kind of like darts on steroids,’ says co-owner.

Snoqualmie Casino. Courtesy photo
Kirkland-based company sues to challenge ‘tribal gaming monopoly’ in Washington

Company called the state’s policy an “erroneous application of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.”

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
The forces behind our current COVID-induced inflation | Guest column

Recent inflation numbers have been quite high and at levels not seen… Continue reading

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
The ‘year end’ elements of financial planning | Guest column

With the end of the year fast approaching, we remind clients that… Continue reading

Airhouse Adventure Park is opening its doors to the public on Jan. 7, 2022, at 1101 Outlet Collection Way. Photo courtesy of Airhouse Adventure Park.
Multi-activity adventure park to open in Auburn

Airhouse Adventure Park will offer laser tag, trampolines and dodgeball among other activities