The ex-workers, backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1500, claim that Mrs. Green’s fired nine workers in mid-January for their support of a pro-union drive at the market.
“Even though we don’t have a contract, beginning the union process creates a protected status,” said Aly Waddy, Local 1500’s director of recruitment and organizing. “Our job is to get these workers back to work. They didn’t do anything wrong.”
On Monday officials at Mrs. Green’s in Mount Kisco declined to comment on the picketers and referred questions to Shige Hatanaka, vice-president of store operations at the markets’ Irvington offices. Hatanaka could not be reached for comment.
There was a union election last year at the store in which 37 employees were eligible to vote.
The union lost the vote by three votes and it filed unfair labor practices charges against Mrs. Green’s with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The allegations included threats against employees for supporting a union drive.
In November the union and Mrs. Green’s reached a settlement and the company agreed to post a letter in its Mount Kisco store promising workers that it would not engage in specific unfair labor practices.
Those promises included not questioning employees about their union activities; not bad-mouthing unions; and not threatening to fire employees if they support a union.
Waddy said the firing of the nine employees had prompted the union to reopen its grievance with the NLRB.
Local 1500 took some of the fired employees to the board to give testimony about their terminations, she said.
“It is illegal when you have an open case and you have a letter that states you will not retaliate,” Waddy said of the terminations. “If someone came in late one time and that’s the reason they got fired, that would still be deemed suspicious behavior.”