February 3, 2009
Joe Sorrentino, a worker at a Wakefern PriceRite Supermarket in North Providence, Rhode Island, has been punished for standing up for a union at his workplace, according to charges filed by UFCW Local Union 328 with the National Labor Relations Board.
Sorrentino and other PriceRite employees have been working to organize with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), but have faced a campaign of company harassment and intimidation. Shortly after receiving national attention for speaking out on behalf of the Employee Free Choice Act at a Washington, DC, press conference on January 13, Sorrentino was demoted and given a pay cut—the kind of harassment by corporations against workers that the Employee Free Choice Act would eliminate.
UFCW Local 328, in Providence has filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board, seeking reinstatement of Sorrentino’s position and pay, as a Night Crew Chief.
“This is the way companies destroy worker attempts to gain a voice on the job,” said Dave Fleming, UFCW local 328 President. “They wage fear campaigns. They fire. They spy. They intimidate. They send a clear and frightening message that if you support forming a union, you will be punished.”
A study from Cornell University scholar Kate Bronfenbrenner found that:
- In 25 percent of organizing campaigns, private-sector employers illegally fire workers because they want to form a union.
- Half of employers threaten to shut down partially or totally if employees join together in a union.
- Ninety-two percent of private-sector employers, when faced with employees who want to join together in a union, force employees to attend closed-door meetings to hear anti-union propaganda; 80 percent require supervisors to attend training sessions on attacking unions; and 78 percent require that supervisors deliver anti-union messages to workers they oversee.
- Seventy-five percent hire outside consultants to run anti-union campaigns, often based on mass psychology and distorting the law.
Joe Sorrentino, like countless other workers trying to improve their workplace, exercised his right speak out for a union on the job,” said Fleming. “The next thing he knew, he was demoted with a wage cut of $3 an hour.”