FAQs on a Strike

Others

December 16th, 2021

FAQs on a Strike

Associates at my store are under the impression that Safeway has settled their contract with UFCW Local 555, but Fred Meyer and QFC have not.  Is this true and why?

No. Safeway/Albertsons and Fred Meyer/QFC are in coordinated bargaining, which means that they are at the negotiations table but are bargaining separate contracts with UFCW Local 555.  Safeway/Albertsons has not reached a tentative agreement on their contract with UFCW Local 555.

The union is telling associates that if they cross the picket line then the union will take their health care and pension away.  Can they do that?

No, they cannot.  Health care eligibility is determined by both the employer and the union in collective bargaining. Eligibility for health care is determined by hours compensated or worked for those represented by UFCW Local 555 in collective bargaining agreements.  Your health care benefits are paid for by you and the company.  The union does not pay these benefits. The company pays a contribution towards health care and pension benefits for every eligible associate. Associates who are vested in the pension do not lose those benefits. Neither the union nor the company can take those benefits away.

 If associates resign from the union to keep working, will they have to pay arrears? 

No. Because the collective bargaining agreement is expired, there is no legal contractual obligation to belong to the union and pay dues so there will be no overdue union dues owing.

Will associates be reinstated in good standing?

If there is a strike, when the strike ends all associates, except those who have engaged in picket line violence, will be reinstated to their employment with Fred Meyer in good standing – both those who went on strike and those who did not. With regard to reinstatement to union membership, it depends on what the union wants to do. If they do not want to take those who resigned back into membership, they don’t have to. But they cannot prohibit Fred Meyer from continuing to employ those who did not strike.

For associates who have not joined the union with less than 30 days of service, can they legally strike?  Or would it be considered no call, no show?

Those associates are still members of the bargaining unit and have both the right to strike and the right to continue to work during the strike, just like any other associate.

Would they need to provide any notice to the union on day 30?  Would they need to join and then resign?

There is no need for a new associate to join the union and then resign. The obligation to join the union arises from the collective bargaining agreement, which has expired and has no force or effect.

Do striking associates have a right to access company property? For example, if they need to use the restroom.

If a striking associate enters the store, they would be crossing the picket line. A striking associate does not have access to the store at all.

Is it true that if I resign from the union and keep working during a strike that Fred Meyer will have to fire me when the strike is over because I am no longer in the union?

  • This is not true. Associates that work during a strike will be permitted to return to work when the strike is over. It would violate federal labor law for the union to attempt to prevent associates from returning to work. If an associate has resigned from the union prior to the strike, the union cannot fine them for crossing a picket line.
  • When a strike is over, federal labor law would not require the union to take them back as members, but associates would still be permitted to work for the company. Associates do not suffer adverse consequences if they resign from the union, work during a strike, and want to continue to work for the company when the strike is over.

 

What happens to associates who work during a strike but do not want to resign from the union?  Will they be assessed penalties by the local?

Associates, who work during a strike but did not resign from the union before they worked behind the picket line, can be fined by the union. That’s why many employees who cross picket lines resign from their union membership before they do so.

Will I automatically still be part of the union after any work stoppage event ends?

Associates, who work during a strike, will still be part of the bargaining unit when the strike is over. If they have resigned their union membership before they worked behind the picket lines, the union still cannot prevent them from continuing to be employed by the company. If the union will not let them become members again after a strike, they are still able to be employed and may only have to pay union dues to continue to work.

Will associates who work during a strike and resign from the union have to rejoin the union once the work stoppage is over? 

No. Associates who resign to work and avoid union fines during a strike do not have to join the union when the strike is over if they do not want to. Their only obligation will be to pay regular union dues as they did before.

If there is a strike, can temporary (replacement) workers work longer than the length of the strike?

At the end of the strike, assuming a contract agreement is reached, the company would be required to reemploy all of its striking employees. If the company still needs additional employees, it can continue to employ the temporary replacements.

What if I want to work? Do I have to stand on the picket line if there is a strike?

No. The union cannot force anyone to go on strike.  You have the legal right to cross any picket lines and continue working.  You get to decide what is best for you and your family. This decision is entirely at an associate’s discretion. Your store leader has more information on your rights during a strike, including if you want to continue to work during a work stoppage.

If a picket line appears at our store, can associates cross the picket line and work?

Yes. The choice to come to work or to honor a legal picket line is up to the associate. All associates have the right to decide for themselves if they would like to continue working during a strike and whether to cross a picket line.  This is not up to the company or the union. The choice is yours.

Can the union fine associates for crossing a picket line?

Yes. If an associate is a union member when he or she chooses to cross the picket line, it is possible that the union could fine the associate for doing so. One way to avoid potential fines, charges, or disciplinary action from the union for crossing a picket line is to resign from the union before crossing. It is important that you understand that the decision of whether to resign from the union is yours alone.

 Can associates resign from the union to avoid potentially being fined?

Yes. To avoid potential fines from the union for crossing a picket line, associates have the legal right to resign from the union and continue to work. If an associate resigns from the union before crossing any picket line, and provides proper notice of resignation to the union, the union cannot fine the associate for crossing the picket line.

What should I do if I want to resign from the union, so I can work during a strike without being fined?

To resign, you may provide a signed and dated notice of resignation to the union. You may deliver the notice to the union office in person, send it to the union by facsimile (fax) or mail it to the union (by certified mail or regular mail).  If an associate provides the notice by facsimile or certified mail, he or she can obtain a confirmation of the union’s receipt of the notice.  An associate may wish to keep a copy of the notice, and of any confirmation of the union’s receipt of it, for his or her records.

The notice does not have to be lengthy or detailed.  It can simply identify the date and who you are, and state, for example: “I resign from the union effective immediately.” Your store leader has a sample resignation form.

It is important that you understand that the decision to resign from the union is yours alone. The company can neither encourage nor discourage you in this decision. Nor can the union lawfully threaten you or prohibit you from resigning from the union if that’s what you decide to do. The choice is yours.

UFCW Local 555

Mailing address:

PO Box 23555
Tigard, OR 97281-3555

Physical Address:

7095 SW Sandburg Street

Tigard, OR. 97223

Fax number:

503-620-3816

When is resignation from the union effective?

If an associate hand delivers his or her notice to the union office, the resignation is effective immediately upon delivery. If the notice is sent by fax, the resignation is effective immediately upon confirmation that the transmission of the fax to the union’s fax line is completed.  If the notice is sent by mail (certified or regular), the resignation is effective at 12:01 a.m. on the day after the notice is postmarked.

If I resign from my union membership and work, will I get fired after a contract is voted in?  

No.  Any claim otherwise is false.  It is also an unlawful threat if the union is telling you this.  If you work during a strike and/or resign your union membership, you will not be fired after the strike ends or after there is a new contract.  You will be covered by any new contract just like everyone else, including union supporters.

If I continue to work during a strike and cross the picket, will I receive the same pay and benefits or get fewer benefits when a contract is voted in?

  • Yes. Your pay and benefits will be the same.  If the union tells you otherwise, they are wrong. During a strike, you can work your scheduled hours without fear of retaliation by the union.
  • You will also have the same wages and benefits under any new contract as those who went on strike, including vacation, healthcare, and retirement benefits and access to the grievance/arbitration terms.

What happens to my benefits if I decide to strike?

  • Associates participating in a strike would not receive employer contributions to their pension or health care benefits that are tied to hours worked.
  • Associates participating in a strike may jeopardize future coverage based on eligibility rules like hours requirements. For example, if an associate chooses to strike and isn’t working, there would be no hours recorded for the time they are on strike and their future eligibility for health care benefits could be at risk.

If I choose to strike, will my weekly health care contributions still come out of my paycheck?

You will not have a paycheck if you are on strike. Once you return to work, you will have “retroactive” deductions for health care coverage taken out of your paycheck.

Who should I contact if I have more questions about my rights?

Any questions that associates may have regarding rights under federal labor law may be directed to the National Labor Relations Board at www.nlrb.gov. The National Labor Relations Board is a neutral government agency responsible for the administration and enforcement of the National Labor Relations Act.

You can get up-to-date information from your store leader.