Union says 9 longtime employees were abruptly fired after supporting union and meeting with local politicians on improving working conditions
QUEENS VILLAGE, NY (01/20/2014)(readMedia)– After standing up for their basic civil rights and speaking to local elected officials about solving problems at their job, nine workers from Mrs. Green’s Natural Market in Mt. Kisco, NY were abruptly fired last week. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1500 called the firings ‘”retaliation” for standing up for “basic, protected, civil rights” and “supporting the union”.
All of nine fired employees supported the union in a highly contested union election in May 2013.
After employees filed charges that Mrs. Green’s was violating their civil rights, the Federal Government charged Mrs. Green’s with violating labor laws. Subsequently, Mrs. Green’s committed in writing, to the National Labor Relations Board that it would respect its employees’ rights to join and support a union, and refrain from retaliation. It posted a federally-issued notice in the Mt. Kisco store, informing employees of their basic rights at work, including the right to organize a union. Reneging on its promise to the workers and the government, it has fired nine long-term employees, eight of whom have been with the company for over seven years and the least senior for over three years.
“They told me I was fired for poor customer service and that sales were low,” said David Ramirez, an eight year employee who was fired last week. “It came as a shock to me and all of us, we were all told the same reasons for being fired. It’s not a coincidence that all of us supported the union. I just stood up for what I believe in,” said Ramirez.
The union has filed federal charges against the company on behalf of the fired employees and is planning a comprehensive public outreach campaign with Mt. Kisco community members. “Not only are the firings a retaliation, but Mrs. Green’s has demonstrated a clear disrespect for labor law, and basic civil rights of their employees,” said Secretary-Treasurer Tony Speelman, “These brave employees were not just on the job for a few days, some of them have over 10 years experience at Mrs. Green’s. It disgusts me a company would sink this low to prevent workers from banding together to improve their workplace.”
“It is a fundamental right of all Americans to participate in a union election without facing intimidation, interrogations, threats that their store will close and they will lose their jobs. Mrs. Green’s management did every thing in their power to deny these workers their rights under law,” Union Organizing Director Aly Waddy said, “Now, with these unjust firings, Mrs. Green’s is following through with their threats, they’ve fired employees who have stood up for their fundamental rights as Americans, and intimidated even more workers.”
“Mrs. Green’s pledges a commitment to good food and good health for their customers but as soon as we united to demand good jobs, Mrs. Green’s true colors came out,” said Marta Urgiles, an employee of over 10 years who was fired last week, “We’ve supported the company and community of Mt. Kisco for years, for it to end like this, right after the holidays, is despicable” said Urgiles.
Community members throughout Mt. Kisco were outraged to hear the news of the firings and have reached out to the fired workers to pledge their support.
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, based out of Westbury, New York, represents grocery workers in New York City, Long Island, Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties. Members of Local 1500 are employed by A&P/Pathmark, Fairway, Stop and Shop, Gristedes, D’Agastino, Key Food, Shop Rite and King Kullen. Stay up to date with UFCW Local 1500 on twitter @ufcw1500, facebook.com/ufcw1500, www.ufcw1500.org.