Stock photo

Stock photo

Grocery store workers have right to wear Black Lives Matter buttons

National Labor Relations Board ruling against ban by Kroger-owned QFC, Fred Meyer

QFC and Fred Meyer violated federal labor law when store officials prohibited workers from wearing union-sponsored Black Lives Matter buttons, according to a ruling by Region 19 of the National Labor Relations Board.

Seattle-based UFCW 21 announced in a Sept. 17 press release that the board informed the union of the ruling against both companies, which are owned by Kroger.

“Specifically, Region 19 (Alaska, Montana, Oregon and Washington) found merit in UFCW 21’s charges that Kroger violated the law by: 1) failing to bargain with the union over a change in workplace conditions – in this case the practice of allowing the wearing of buttons at work; and 2) prohibiting workers from taking action together – in this case, by wearing Black Lives Matter messages – to protest racism in the workplace and in society, generally,” according to the press release.

Seattle-based Region 19 will now seek a settlement agreement with Kroger, which would likely require a change to company policy, according to the union. If a settlement cannot be reached, Region 19 would typically issue a formal complaint and a trial would be held before an Administrative Law judge, whose ruling would be subject to an appeal to the NLRB in Washington D.C.

“This is very uplifting,” said Sam Dancy a front end supervisor at the Westwood Village QFC in West Seattle. “When workers were trying to speak out through these buttons and collectively say Black Lives Matter and Kroger said to take the buttons off, that was an insult. This decision is welcome news in our work to bring attention to social and racial injustice in the workplace and in our neighborhoods.”

A QFC spokesperson issued the following statement in a Sept. 17 email to the Kent Reporter.

“We look forward to reviewing the proposed settlement agreement,” according to the spokesperson. “Our company is unequivocal in standing with our Black associates, deeply listening and taking action to advance more diverse, inclusive and equitable communities.”

UFCW 21 President Faye Guenther released the following statement.

“In the wake of this welcome action by the NLRB, we are calling on Kroger to respect workers’ rights and take meaningful steps to address racial inequities in Kroger workplaces,” Guenther said. “Among other things, Kroger needs to do a better job of hiring and promoting African Americans at every level of the company and making it clear that it will not tolerate racism from customers or employees.”

After Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd on May 25, 2020, many UFCW 21 members working in grocery and retail stores chose to express their opposition to racism by wearing face masks (otherwise worn for protection from COVID-19) or other items bearing the Black Lives Matter slogan.

Although Kroger issued public statements expressing sympathy with the Black Lives Matter movement, managers at Kroger-owned stores in Western Washington started ordering UFCW 21 members to remove Black Lives Matter masks in August 2020, according to the union press release.

UFCW 21 responded to the company’s Black Lives Matter ban by collaborating with Fred Meyer and QFC workers to distribute union-sponsored Black Lives Matter buttons with the UFCW 21 logo. When managers banned the union buttons, UFCW 21 filed charges in September 2020 with the National Labor Relations Board.

UFCW 21 represents over 46,000 workers at grocery stores, retail, health care and other industry jobs.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Business

Mixologist and general manager of Civility & Unrest, Joe Dietrich (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
If you want a regular cocktail, go somewhere else

Master mixologist Joe Dietrich is elevating cocktail culture at Bellevue’s Civility & Unrest.

Front bar at Bellevue’s Civility & Unrest (courtesy of Civility & Unrest)
Two of James Beard Award-winning chef Jason Wilson’s restaurants to reopen in October

The Lakehouse plans to reopen Oct. 12 and Civility & Unrest reopens Oct. 14.

Stock photo
Grocery store workers have right to wear Black Lives Matter buttons

National Labor Relations Board ruling against ban by Kroger-owned QFC, Fred Meyer

Sno-Valley Chamber CEO Kelly Coughlin; Lucas Haines, Volition Brewing owner and current President of the North Bend Downtown Foundation; North Bend Mayor Rob McFarland; Rob and Laurie Wesorick; Celeste Coxen; Wendy and Chris Stone. For information on this new venue, contact Chris Stone at chris@pearlandstonewine.com.
Pearl and Stone Wine Company opens tasting room

Pearl and Stone Wine Company’s new tasting room held its grand opening… Continue reading

T
North Bend looks at new hotel development

The City of North Bend is considering the construction of a new… Continue reading

Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson presents SnoValley Chamber president, Earl Bell, with a community service award from the city Aug. 9. Photo by Conor Wilson/Valley Record
SnoValley Chamber president receives community service award

In March 2020, while many businesses were beginning to reel from the… Continue reading

Big Island Poke in Renton (courtesy of The Intentionalist Facebook page)
Small-business advocacy group wants you to try minority-owned businesses and put it on their tab

The Intentionalist is opening up $400 tabs for folks to use this weekend at select businesses.

Wells Fargo opened a new bank branch July 29 at 250 Bendigo Blvd. S. in North Bend. Pictured left to right: SnoValley Chamber Executive Director Kelly Coughlin; Wells Fargo employees David Vu, Zuleyka Corro, Chris Hansen (back row), Roselyn Osuagwu and Jacob McBride; North Bend Councilmember Mary Miller and North Bend Mayor Rob McFarland. Photo by Conor Wilson/Valley Record
Wells Fargo opens new branch in North Bend

Wells Fargo opened a new bank branch July 29 at 250 Bendigo… Continue reading

T
Here’s how Buckshot Honey got its name

Snoqualmie business celebrates first anniversary after opening during pandemic.

Eastside King County restaurant owners discuss challenges with U.S. Rep Suzan DelBene at Pomegranate Bistro in Redmond. (Photo credit: Cameron Sheppard/Sound Publishing)
Restaurant owners discuss labor difficulties with U.S Rep. Suzan DelBene

Experienced service and kitchen staff are reportedly hard to hire as food service reopens.

Dave and Buster's restaurant and entertainment venue looks to hire 130 people to staff its Bellevue venue, set to open in August. Photo courtesy Dave and Busters.
Dave and Buster’s hiring 130 for August opening in Bellevue

Dave and Buster’s restaurant and entertainment venue opens in downtown Bellevue on… Continue reading

Contributed photo
Katie Podschwit, Dorie Ross, Kristen Schumacher, Heather Dean and Julie Chung, owners of Chickadee Bakeshop, Heirloom Cookshop and Snoqualmie Ice Cream are opening a new location in Snoqualmie this summer.
Three Valley businesses team up for Snoqualmie venture

Snoqualmie Ice Cream, Chickadee Bakeshop and Heirloom Cookshop will soon be opening in Snoqualmie.