Stock photo

Stock photo

Union files charges against QFC, Fred Meyer over Black Lives Matter button ban

Grocery store workers condemn ban; QFC spokesperson says wristband options available to employees

Puget Sound-area retail and grocery store workers, with the full backing of their union (UFCW 21), launched a campaign Tuesday calling on Kroger-owned Fred Meyer and QFC to reverse the companies’ ban on employees wearing Black Lives Matter buttons at work.

Over recent weeks, management has begun ordering workers to remove “Black Lives Matter” buttons distributed by the UFCW 21, according to a Tuesday, Sept. 22 press release from UFCW 21.

UFCW 21, the union which represents more than 13,000 workers at Puget Sound-area Fred Meyer and QFC stores, says the ban violates workers’ rights under the companies’ union contracts and federal labor law.

On Tuesday morning, after weeks of attempts to resolve the problem internally, UFCW 21 filed formal grievances with the companies, as well as an unfair labor practice charge under federal labor law.

A QFC spokesperson in Bellevue said in an email Tuesday to the Kent Reporter that employees have other options to show their support for the Black community.

“We strive to offer a workplace that is uplifting, inclusive and consistent with our values: integrity, honesty, diversity, inclusion, safety and respect,” according to the email. “Many associates have expressed a desire to stand together with the Black community and show their support through their clothing, facial coverings and accessories. To offer a more consistent solution, we’ve made two wristband options available to our associates: one that represents our commitment to standing together with our Black associates, customers and communities against racism in all forms, and the other to serve as a reminder of our values that guide us.”

UFCW 21 and community leaders are also calling on supporters to sign an online petition to the companies (see: tinyurl.com/BLMatKroger).

Shawntia Cunningham, who is Black and works at the Everett Fred Meyer, explained why she is fighting for her right to wear the button.

“I get pulled over by cops for having a nice car to the point that my husband, who is white, has to drive so I can just feel safe,” Cunningham said in the press release. “I have been called the ‘N’ word by customers at my store a few times. I need this company to respect us as human beings and to respect our rights as workers. I need Fred Meyer and QFC and all Kroger to see that Black lives really do matter.”

UFCW 21 President Faye Guenther said the union strongly supports its members about the issue.

“Systemic racism is real and it negatively impacts thousands of our members on the job and in the community,” Guenther said. “We are proud of our members who are standing up to say ‘Black Lives Matter’ and we will support their right to do so with every tool available to us.”

The campaign is drawing support from area labor and civil rights leaders. Gabriel Prawl, Sr., A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) Seattle Chapter president, Tuesday called on Fred Meyer and QFC to reconsider the ban on Black Lives Matter and meet with Black workers and community leaders to address “ongoing racist issues in the retail environment.”

April Sims, Secretary Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO offered full support.

“Solidarity among working people is the foundation of the labor movement, and these workers are living that commitment by wearing Black Lives Matter buttons,” Sims said. “These brave workers are backed by the 550,000-person strong labor movement of Washington state, and we call on these companies to reverse their decision to prioritize the feelings of racists over the humanity of their Black and Brown employees and customers.”

The QFC spokesperson emphasized in the email what the company has done for employees since COVID-19 struck.

“Since March, we have invested more than $1 billion to both reward our associates and to safeguard them and our customers through the implementation of dozens of safety measures,” according to the email. “The company’s total COVID-19 incident rate continues to track meaningfully below the rate in the surrounding communities where we operate. We have learned and continue to learn while keeping our stores and supply chain open and serving Washington during the pandemic.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@covingtonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.covingtonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Business

Cash Cards Unlimited partners, left: Nick Nugwynne, right: Cassius Marsh (photo credit: Cash Cards Unlimited)
Former Seahawks player Cassius Marsh cashes in on trading cards

Marsh and his friend open physical and online trading card store as collectibles boom amid pandemic.

Teaser
First large-scale, human composting facility in the world will open in Auburn

“It’s what nature meant us to do. We just do it faster.”

Whole Foods grocery store entrance (Shutterstock)
King County considers grocery store worker hazard pay for those in unincorporated areas

The King County Metropolitan Council will vote during its next meeting on… Continue reading

Screenshot
WA Democrats consider new tax on billionaires

Plan could raise $5 billion from fewer than 100 taxpayers. Detractors fear it could drive Washington’s wealthiest out of state.

Last summer, people took advantage of the outdoor dining along First Avenue between Gowe and Titus streets in downtown Kent. In Phase 2 of the governor’s reopening plan, which was announced Jan. 28, restaurants can reopen at a maximum 25% capacity and a limit of six people per table. Photo courtesy of Kent Downtown Partnership
Restaurant reprieve: State to relax some indoor restrictions

On Monday, area restaurants and certain entertainment venues may resume indoor service, the governor said.

Stock photo
State Senate passes $1.7 billion in unemployment insurance tax relief

Targets relief to the most affected businesses; helps low-wage workers by raising their benefits

2021 Chevrolet Blazer. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Chevrolet Blazer

By Larry Lark, contributor When it comes to certain car models they… Continue reading

2021 Lexus RX 350L. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Lexus RX 350L

By Larry Lark, contributor It’s always a good day when a Lexus… Continue reading

The Cadillac CT4 is designed to appeal to a new generation of Cadillac buyers with its athletic design and astute driving dynamics. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2020 Cadillac CT4 Premium Luxury

By Larry Lark, contributor With apologies to Oldsmobile, “the 2020 CT4 Premium… Continue reading

2021 Mercedes E-350 luxury sedan. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Mercedes E-350 luxury sedan

By Larry Lark, contributor Mercedes-Benz occupies rarified air in the automobile pantheon.… Continue reading

2021 Ford F-150 Platinum. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Ford F-150 Platinum

By Larry Lark, contributor It’s always a call to action when a… Continue reading