El Super grocery chain accused of 'coercing' workers

El Super grocery chain accused of 'coercing' workers

El Super supermarket chain is facing a complaint from the National Labor Relations Board accusing the grocer of preventing its workers from advocating for their rights and refusing to bargain with unions.

The Paramount, Calif., company interfered, restrained and coerced employees participating in a boycott after the chain failed to agree on a contract with the local United Food and Commercial Workers unions, the complaint alleges. El Super also fired Fermin Rodriguez, who was a cashier and union leader with the chain, according to the complaint.

El Super said the union's claims "are grossly inaccurate, misleading and irresponsible."

"The filing of unfair labor practices is common practice -- by both sides -- in a labor dispute," the company said in a statement. "The UFCW has twisted the facts to sensationalize what is nothing more than procedural due process."

The grocer said a similar complaint was also filed against the UFCW accusing the union of failing to supply information and refusing to bargain in good faith.

The union represents about 600 El Super workers at seven stores in Southern California. The UFCW said that the supermarket has refused to negotiate with the union for more than a year, and that El Super employees have been working without a union contract since September 2013.

In December, El Super workers and other union members launched a boycott against the chain to protest low pay and violations of worker rights.

Rick Icaza, president of UFCW Local 770, said the complaint "is an extraordinary decision by the U.S. government in response to our union's efforts to stop these illegal abuses."

"This is a good step forward toward getting this company back to the table to negotiate a fair and equitable contract for our El Super members," Icaza said in a Wednesday statement.

Follow Shan Li on Twitter: @ByShanLi

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


10:26 a.m.: This post was updated with a comment from El Super.

This post was originally published at 5:46 p.m.