Jan. 5, 2004 – The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) says it has uncovered evidence that supermarket chain Ralphâ€™s is illegally hiring back locked out employees in Central and Southern California. Union spokeswomen Ellen Anreder and Barbara Maynard said the union had evidence that 50-100 locked out workers had secretly been hired back and then told to use fictitious names and Social Security numbers or the Social Security numbers of their children, reports Forbes.
Among the evidence the union sites is a paycheck to the four month-old child of a locked out worker, statements and pay stubs provided by two employees working undercover for the union and one who recently came forward, and statements and photographs from union members who said they recognized about 50 locked-out Ralphs employees working at different sites, according the Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union Tribune.
The union filed suit against Ralphs on Friday, reports the Times. According to its suit, if Ralphs is rehiring workers, the lockout is instead a selective layoff, and therefore the locked out workers are eligible for unemployment benefits, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Nearly three months ago, Southern California supermarket chains Ralphs and Albertsons locked out their employees after the UFCW launched a strike against other area supermarkets Vons and Pavilions. An employer proposal for a lower pay scale for new hires and higher worker contributions towards health coverage ignited the dispute, which affects 70,000 workers. Employees of all four stores are governed by the same contract.
Ralphs denied the charges Friday, reports the Miami Herald. "We believe the lawsuit has little or no merit," Terry O'Neil, spokesman for Ralphs chain, told the Herald. "It is against our policy to knowingly hire anyone who uses falsified documentation."