OLD TOWN – An anti-union sign at a grocery store chain in Maine has stirred some controversy.
An employee at the Old Town Hannaford store noticed an anti-union sign in the employee break room. She posted it on Facebook and now it’s getting some attention.
“That poster in the employee break room of all places and with the very hostile working of it, it just didn’t sit right with me,” said the employee who asked to be anonymous because she still works at the grocery store.
“I was pretty surprised and shocked to see what Hannaford put up there,” said Jack McKay, Eastern Maine Labor Council president. “What they wrote is a seeming threat and is real misinformation about what unions are.”
“The reality is unions are workers in a workplace coming together, talking about issues, negotiating with management. A union is of the workers, by the workers, and for the workers,” he added later. “That is how it works.”
Both were upset with the wording on the sign’s last line that reads, “Hannaford will resist, to the fullest extent of the law, any attempt to organize our associates.”
“When they say that they are going to work to the fullest extent of the law, it’s really an implicit threat,” McKay said.
“There is really nothing they can do from a legal standpoint, but a lot of people there I can imagine don’t know that and probably feel very intimidated by that,” the employee said. “And so I just wanted to call it out and say, ‘This is not OK.’”
Ericka Dodge, a spokeswoman for Hannaford Supermarkets said Friday, “the social media posting did alert us that some very old, incorrect language might be lingering out there.” The sign was removed and a letter replaced it. The letter says a union, “jeopardizes a healthy associate-management relationship.”
“It doesn’t seem like they’re putting our interests above their own money,” the employee said. “And that is just especially sickening to me where it’s a grocery store where a lot of employees can’t even afford to buy their own groceries.”
Well before the Hannaford sign was posted on Facebook, Eastern Maine Labor Council had invited Mark Fleischman, president and founder of the Action Network, to host a class on how to start a union.
Anyone who wants to learn more about unions is invited to the Brewer union hall, located at 20 Ivers St., at 6 p.m. on May 22 for “Union 101.”