Los Angeles Business Journal

Grocery Chain Says Workers Trying to Decertify Union

By Howard Fine Friday, May 30, 2014

The owners of the El Super grocery chain said that even as some workers were on the picket line, others are trying to decertify the union.

Bodega Latina Corp. of Paramount, which does business as El Super, said in a statement released late Thursday that El Super employees have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to decertify the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Filing a petition to decertify a union requires support from at least 30 percent of the union workers, the statement said.

The company said it has offered higher salaries and increased benefits but the union has rejected the offers as insufficient.

“El Super believes this protest is misdirected as it is the UFCW – not management – that is keeping our employees from wage increases,” the statement said. “Perhaps that is why El Super employees have filed a petition with the NLRB to decertify the union.

About 575 workers at seven of El Super’s more than 30 Southern California locations are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, Local 770. They’ve been negotiating a new contract since last year with El Super, a subsidiary of Mexican grocer Grupo Comercial Chedraui.

The previous contract expired in September. The union is demanding more hours for full-time employees, sick leave, higher pay and lower costs for health insurance. Workers voted earlier this month to authorize a strike if negotiations broke down. Several dozen workers picketed an El Super store in East Los Angeles on Thursday.

Rigo Valdez, UFCW Local 770 vice president, said that several El Super employees who signed the decertification petition later testified to the NLRB that they did not fully understand what they were signing.

Valdez also said those same workers also testified that they had been intimidated by management. He said the intimidation included workers being told at closed-door meetings that if they did not accept the contract as presented, they would be permanently replaced.

Negotiations with a federal mediator are slated to resume Tuesday.