Grocery Workers Union Alleges First Amendment Violations Over Social Media Policy
WESTBURY, NEW YORK (03/29/2012)(readMedia)– United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, New York States largest grocery workers union, has filed charges with the Federal Government against AHOLD/Stop and Shop Supermarkets accusing the grocer of implementing a social media policy in a manner that violates Federal labor law as well the first amendment rights of thousands of it’s employees. The charges were filed at the National Labor Relations Board in Brooklyn, New York
“Employer policies targeting social media are raising concerns from State Capitols to Washington D.C.” said Anthony Speelman, Secretary Treasurer of UFCW Local 1500. “It is our belief that Stop and Shop has implemented a policy that is vague, overbroad and in violation of the civil rights of our members employed at their stores,” Speelman continued. “Furthermore, they did so without first bargaining with our Union, UFCW Local 1500. That action alone is a violation of Federal labor law.”
UFCW Local 1500 represents over 5500 Stop and Shop employees in approximately 45 stores located on Long Island, the five boroughs, Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties
“The actions being taken by employers over social media outlets such as Facebook strike at the heart of our Constitution’s First Amendment,” said Speelman. “The idea of any employer asking for passwords, terminating workers over speech content and even using sites like Facebook to gather information on employees that would otherwise be illegal to ask employees should send a chill down the spines of all New Yorkers.” While Local 1500 has not yet accused AHOLD/Stop and Shop of those specific violations, it is charging them with having a policy so broad that it could lead to censorship and other First Amendment violations.
” We must always be vigilant when it comes to the most valued Constitutional rights of our members and ensure that Democracy does not check itself at the door as workers enter AHOLD/Stop and Shop Supermarkets,” Speelman concluded. The Union is considering meeting with State Legislators to discuss the introduction of legislation prohibiting some current actions being taken by employers.
UFCW Local 1500 represents 23,000 grocery workers in New York State. Members are employed by Stop Shop, Shop Rite, Pathmark, King Kullen and Fairway. Their members live and work in Long Island, the five boroughs, Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties.