February 17, 2016
By John Quinn, NJ LaborPress
Newark, NJ – New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech appeared before the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) on Tuesday February 9th. At the hearing Wowkanech dscribed the harsh, anti-union tactics by Deep Foods, a company that received $27 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies.
“Why would New Jersey spend millions of dollars in public taxpayers’ money to help a company that does not respect its employees,” President Wowkanech asked the EDA, after learning of the tax incentive program approved for Deep Foods. “Since being approved for up to $26.9 million from the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program, Deep Foods has betrayed the community’s trust by engaging in textbook anti-union, anti-worker tactics. New Jersey taxpayers should not subsidize such irresponsible behavior.”
Deep Foods began an anti-union campaign as soon as workers began the effort to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Local 262. Management promised promotions to discourage workers to support the union. Workers were harrassed, interrogated and threatened with reprisals. The company used work assignment changes to keep employees 'in line' and,some workers were fired for union activities.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a decision that Deep Foods illegally terminated the workers for leading a drive to join RWDSU. The NLRB is ordering the company to restore the workers to their previous positions and community leaders are urging them to accept the decision.
Most of Deep Foods’ 239 employees have expressed an interest in forming a union. However, the company is fighting the organizing drive. New Jersey AFL-CIO has made it clear, New Jersey tax dollars should not be spent to incentivize a company that has refused to play by the rules and treat its employees with the dignity and respect they deserve.