El Super grocery chain settles complaints it refused to bargain with union

Grocery chain El Super has settled with the National Labor Relations Board over allegations that it refused to bargain with union locals and mistreated unionized workers, a union representative said Monday.

The agreement reached Friday aims to remedy complaints filed last fall and winter, marking a victory for the 600 employees represented by United Food and Commercial Workers locals at seven El Super stores in greater Los Angeles. As a result, one worker fired for what he contended was retaliation for supporting the union got his job back along with seven months of back-pay.

“I am incredibly proud to return to my job of more than nine years, holding my head high,” said Fermin Rodriguez in a UFCW news release. He returned to his cashier job at El Super #13 in South Los Angeles on Sunday.

El Super, which employs 45,000 people at 50 markets across California, Arizona and Nevada, has voluntarily agreed to begin bargaining with the union locals.

Under the settlement, the chain must also post signs saying that it cannot refuse to negotiate. The notices should also remind workers that they have the right to band together and seek bargaining representation.

“El Super is pleased to resolve this matter, and looks forward to returning to the table where we hope to resolve the last of our outstanding issues with the union," the company said in a statement. 

The company had implemented a new labor contract in September, following a year of deadlocked negotiations, it said. The union responded by starting a boycott and filing complaints. 

The call to boycott will continue, the union said, as the National Labor Relations Board reviews other complaints, including allegations that workers besides Rodriguez were fired in retaliation for supporting the union.

“We want to keep pressure on the company to do the right thing,” said UFCW organizer Rigo Valdez, adding that he was pleased to see three complaints addressed. 

“It proved El Super’s systematic behavior in harassing and intimidating workers,” he said.  

daina.solomon@latimes.com

Twitter: @dainabethcita

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