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On the picket line

May 25, 2007 | Page 11

Farmer Joe's grocery stores
By Jessie Muldoon

OAKLAND, Calif.--The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union is escalating efforts to unionize the Farmer Joe's grocery stores. Shortly after workers overwhelmingly pledged support for representation by the UFCW, the store responded with firings and enlisted the help of a union-busting firm.

Nydia Williams, who had worked at the store for nine months, was fired on Christmas Day 2006. She was accused of violating meal breaks and failing to call in when she missed work due to a family emergency. But coworkers told her that in the week before she was fired, managers were asking other employees to verify that Williams helped get pro-union pledge cards signed.

Other pro-union workers were fired on similar trumped-up charges. A total of 15 workers have lost their jobs.

On May 18, about 75 union supporters picketed in front of one of the stores and marched to a second store about a mile away. While the union has in the past encouraged only a Friday boycott, they are now calling for a full boycott of both stores.

Although store supporters held anti-union banners and signs, and some threatened picketers, the rally maintained high spirits. Organizers have vowed to come back for weekly pickets and sustain the boycott.

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