By ED FINKELSTEIN
The charge that Schnucks is unfairly stifling the free speech of Teamsters Local 688 members by not allowing Teamsters to handbill directly in front of Schnuck stores while it allows other groups to do so has enough merit to go to trial, the National Labor Relations Board ruled.
The NLRB set a Sept. 7 trial date before an Administrative Law Judge.
Local 688 has charged that since Schnucks allows any number of groups to stand in front of its stores and make solicitations or hand out materials, they should have the same right.
Additionally, the union charged that at an Alton, Ill. store, the manager unfairly ejected a Teamster warehouse worker who was shopping in the store while wearing a T-shirt protesting Schnucks’ firing of 201 Teamster warehouse workers and 30 management workers and replacing them with non-union workers at the company’s new north county scab-operated warehouse.
The manager threatened to call the police if the worker did not leave.
“This is clearly a violation of our free speech rights,” said Local 688’s Chief Executive Officer Mike Goebel.
He added that he expects Schnucks to legally try to stall the hearing date as long as possible.
Meanwhile, firings of the union warehouse workers are underway; the first firings were July 31 with more scheduled for Aug. 21 and Sept. 11.
“We anticipate there may be some delay in the next set of firings since the scabs are screwing things up badly at the new warehouse,” Goebel said, pointing out that produce and dairy products originally sent to the scab warehouse have been returned to the union warehouse so they can be delivered to the stores. After the original transfer of products to the scab warehouse took place, Schnuck produce and dairy shelves were bare unable to get delivery.
The union’s contract calls for Teamsters warehouse workers to move with their jobs if the company subcontracts work or moves to new facilities. Schnucks is blatantly violating the agreement by failing to provide Teamsters their reemployment rights. The union has a grievance pending on this issue which is heading to arbitration.