Federal Grand Jury Indicts Ralphs
By George Anderson
A federal grand jury has handed down an indictment of Ralphs Grocery Co. charging the company illegally rehired nearly 1,000 employees during the grocery workers lockout/strike two years ago.
According to prosecutors in the case, Ralphs rehired union members using fake names and Social Security numbers. One regional manager with the chain is alleged to have asked a store manager in La Jolla to recruit workers before the labor action started to have them serve as a “roving crew” to work at other Ralphs’ locations.
The actions, said U.S. Attorney Debra Wong Yang, represented a “tacit approval, if not encouragement by management” for stores to engage in illegal hiring activities.
“Because Ralphs had seasoned workers, not untrained temporary replacements, it was able to operate much more efficiently and profitably,” said Ms. Wong Yang. “As a result, Ralphs was able to extend the labor dispute to the distinct detriment of the union, which by the end of the lockout had exhausted its financial resources.”
Ralphs and its parent company Kroger disagree with the prosecutor’s charges.
“We strongly dispute the claim that the behavior of some store managers reflected a corporate plan devised to further the company’s position during the prolonged labor negotiations,” said Paul Heldman, Kroger’s senior vice president. “The federal prosecutors simply have this wrong. Ralphs hired more than 50,000 temporary workers during the strike, and we believe less than 1 percent, or about 200, of them were locked-out employees who were rehired unlawfully. We regret that misconduct, but it had no effect whatsoever on the duration or outcome of the labor dispute.”
Moderator’s Comment: Will the indictment of Ralphs for illegally rehiring workers during the Southern California grocery workers lockout/strike have
an impact on how the chain is perceived by the public or its bottom line performance? –
George Anderson – Moderator