A local union representing grocery workers from across Oregon and Southwest Washington has called for an immediate boycott of Fred Meyer stores and departments in the region. Union officials say the move comes after recent alleged harassment of unionized employees by higher-ups.
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 is locked in deteriorating contract negotiations with some of the region’s biggest supermarkets, including Fred Meyer, Albertsons and Safeway. After the most recent negotiations deadlocked, the union cancelled nearly all its contract extensions with the Fred Meyer and QFC locations in its jurisdiction, as well as a handful of Safeways and Albertsons.
The contract termination freed up the union to call for a boycott starting Sunday.
Kelley McAllister, with UFCW Local 555, said the union was targeting solely Fred Meyer due to recent allegations that managers at the stores had called unionized employees into their offices and berated them.
“We got information from members in those meetings that they were being threatened and harassed and told that they were worthless, told that anyone off the street could do their job,” she said.
McAllister said the alleged abuse constituted unfair labor practice and was reported to the National Labor Relations Board.
In a statement, Fred Meyer said recent allegations that painted the company as “an unfair or uncaring employer” were an “unfortunate misrepresentation of the reality for our great associates.”
“The truth is that these actions don’t help the negotiation process at all and calls to boycott Fred Meyer hurt associates and their families, customers and communities, and ironically helps competitors, many of which are non-union,” the statement read.
The union has released a list of the specific departments within 57 Fred Meyer locations where its asking consumers to refrain from shopping. McAllister said the union has no plans yet to picket or to strike. The latter, she says "continues to be our last resort."
The next bargaining session will take place Sept. 26 and 27.