2013-07-03 / Front Page

State Labor Board Blasts Trade Fair Employee Lockout

By Liz Goff

Officials at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last week filed a formal complaint against operators of Trade Fair Supermarkets in Queens, charging they illegally interfered with actions taken by unionized workers in Trade Fair meat markets during contract negotiations held earlier this year.

Evidence submitted to the state panel by officials at the meat workers union, UFCW Local 342, backed up charges by employees who said Trade Fair operators initiated a lockout at the stores, barring butchers and other meat market workers from entering the work sites and for several months, in some cases the operators “berated” workers during contract negotiations with union officials.

Workers who went on strike during the dispute were later “reunited” with jobs that paid lower salaries, relocated without notice to Trade Fair stores at other locations – and in some cases, managers were demoted to jobs as meat cutters, union official said.

Members of the labor board reviewed the charges and issued a report that backs charges made by the employees. The report states that Trade Fair operators improperly suspended employees in conjunction with union activities, threatened the workers with termination and “punishment” for distributing unio material at or near the job site, or participating with the union.

The report also cites incidents of assault and harassment against the workers and slams Trade Fair operators for locking out employees.

The NLRB will now take its findings to an administrative law judge, seeking an order that will force Trade Fair to compensate the workers in a number of ways, including retroactive pay for wages lost during the month-long lockout. The order will also request management to remedy unfair labor practices at Trade Fair Supermarkets, union officials said.

Trade Fair operators must respond to the complaint in writing by the end of this week. If Trade Fair chooses not to reach an amicable settlement with the union, the case will be turned over to an administrative law judge who will hold a hearing on the matter by late August.

Trade Fair management has filed a notice with the NLRB, charging the union called an illegal strike at the supermarkets.

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