Tuesday, June 15, 2010
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 23 leaders filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board today against Giant Eagle today saying the company is intimidating workers and trampling on their right to free speech. Union local president Tony Helfer says the company has admitted that it is taping conversations between workers and union leaders, threatening them with firing if they wear union stickers on the job, and threatening workers who talk to other workers about union activity while on the job with disciplinary action. Helfer says he would have preferred to not file the charges while the company was still at the contract barging table but he felt the company had gone too far and the situation needed to be addressed. The current contract covering about 6,000 workers in 34 stores in western PA and two stores in WV expires June 26th. Helfer says talks are scheduled for both Thursday and Friday. He says pay and benefits are the top issues to be resolved. Helfer says the health insurance being offered by the company is unaffordable for recent hires. The pay scale has a top pay for employees hired after 2004 of $9.30 per hour. About half of the union members make that rate or less. Helfer says the company is pushing the burden of taking care of its workers onto the state through enrolment in food stamps and state assisted healthcare.