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Ruth Ann Kirk, Martha Smith and Glenda Burton allege that they were terminated for union discussions.


Judge to render decision in April in Food City union case


LOUISA -- The Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union filed a lawsuit against Food City in November 2010 in Lawrence Circuit Court for 'Wrongful Termination' of employees Ruth Ann Kirk, Martha Smith and Glenda Burton who allege in the lawsuit that they were terminated by Louisa Food City management for "union discussions". During the fall of 2010, the former employees were terminated.

Representatives of Food City claim that all three were terminated due to being in the break room while on the clock, repeated tardiness, being in an unauthorized area (receiving) and dismissal for a position that was no longer needed. No one from Food City returned phone calls for comment.

Meetings were held either at a Rocky Tops Pizza, a personal residence, or in the Food City parking lot. After the suit was filed there were no more union meetings, those involved instead exchanged phone calls. The three fired workers didn't want to make a final statement until the judgement comes in. Quotes included in this story came from the testimonies given in court.

Witnesses and Petitioners were sequestered by the court this week and testimony began with Ken Burns, representative with the RWDSU out of Local 397 in Ohio. He testified that he was contacted by Mrs. Burton and a meeting took place at an out of town restaurant to discuss the benefits of having a Union in the workplace. Other Union meetings were then held at employees' residences and at other local restaurants.

“It’s like night and day. With any Union, you get so much more benefits, get treated a lot more fairly, Supervisors treat you better, compared to non-union jobs”  Ms. Burns said.

Testimony was also heard from the three former employees and other witnesses as well as management.

According to the testimony, "Following rumors spreading of union talk, management at Food City began mandatory “Anti-Union” meetings for all employees to attend."  During the month after these meeting, the three employees were dismissed.

“I was told that I was being let go because they (Food City) didn’t have the 8 hours a month that I was working” said Mrs. Kirk.

Before dismissal, Mrs. Burton had been written up on several occasions, all pertaining to Food City policies, management said.

Martha Smith had no comment at this time.

Witnesses finished their testimonies on Thursday afternoon. The judge will make his decision on the case sometime in April, the court reporter said.

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