As documented in Melanie Asmar's December feature "Can a Mild-Mannered Grocery Clerk Solve the Grocery Workers' Labor Strife?
," United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 has been rocked by a power struggle between supporters of previous president Ernie Duran and those backing incoming boss Kim Cordova.
The latest salvo in this extremely nasty fight? Last Friday, persons unknown who are presumably in Duran's corner hacked into the UFCW Local 7 e-mail system and sent approximately 3,000 members a message accusing Cordova of numerous sins, including nepotism -- one of the main charges made against Duran prior to him losing the last election. See the e-mail and a UFCW response to it below.
UFCW Local 7 spokesman Dave Minshall can't help but take this subterfuge personally. After all, the attack on Cordova went out under his e-mail address.
According to Minshall, "Friday afternoon, about 1:10, somebody hacked into a blast e-mail service we use to contact our members, called Constant Contact. They wrote a message and sent it to everybody on the service, which is about 3,000 of our members. It was basically a screed by the people who were supporters of Mr. Duran, I assume, saying all sorts of nasty things and urging everybody to come to the Tuesday night membership meeting."
Minshall's note refuting the authenticity of the first one asked members to come to the meeting as well. The result: A get-together that typically attracts about fifty or sixty folks drew a couple of hundred, by his estimate. Many of them, he says, "were people who were apparently supporters of the past administration or had a grudge against the new administration. They laid out their gripes and were generally voted down by the membership. The vote was probably two-to-one or three-to-one of people saying, 'Let's get on with things.'"
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At least one positive came out of the meeting, Minshall believes: "It gave people a chance to vent." But all is not forgiven. UFCW Local 7 has informed the Wheat Ridge Police Department about the hacking incident. "We're certainly interested in finding out the person who did this," Minshall confirms. In the meantime, he says some UFCW Local 7 e-mail systems have been shut down and security has been increased on others, to try to ensure that the messages sent out under Minshall's name are genuine.
Below, read the attack on Cordova, followed by the official UFCW Local 7 response:
Since Kim Cordova and Cindy Lucero took office, they broke a number of promises to UFCW Local 7 Members!
• Acceptance of an "inadequate" contract offer • False statements about retiree pension fund • Bonus Increase for the new administration • Nepotism Continues...
Kim Cordova and Cindy Lucero recommended that members accept an inadequate grocery management contract because they did not want to fight for you. This contract resulted in:
• Pensions being slashed up to 60% • No wage increases for the majority of workers • No guaranteed health care premiums • A two-tier system remains in place
Note: UFCW members voted to "reject" this same "inadequate" contract offer by 90% at previous meetings.
Ms. Cordova and Ms. Lucero told the media that the retiree pension funds would get millions of dollars due to the new contract. This was not ture [sic]. Safeway management distributed a letter to employee's [sic] notifying them that this was false.
Kim Cordova, Cindy Lucero and their Directors gave themselves a 3% increase in salary within a few months after taking office. Ms. Cordova and Ms. Lucero are each paid over $120,000 annually and they have no Union Managment experience and neither has a college degree. Since their election, high price [sic] attorneys have been employed to explain the contracts and other legal matters to UFCW members.
Secretary-Treasurer, Cindy Lucero's son has been hired and is paid nearly $80,000 in salary. A family member of Director Kevin Schneider works for UFCW Local 7 as well. Kim Cordova's new policy on "Nepotism" provides her full discretion to hire whom ever she wants even if a blood relationship is present.
• Un-warranted Audit • Firing and Suspension of Union representatives • No grievances filed for Swift workers • Union Staff Contract Violations
In 2009, for three (3) months, the US Department of Labor conducted an audit on UFCW Local 7's financial accounts. NO charges were issued. Annual audits of UFCW Local 7 accounts have been consistently audited for decades. Only suggestions for improvement have been made.
Union receipts indicate that both Ms. Cordova and Ms. Lucero used their Union Credit Cards for personal and Union business use at Pubs, restaurants and Starbuck Coffee shops. They also attended Union business meeting [sic] in Florida, Hawaii, California and Las Vegas.
It is hoped that this additional audit reveals these receipts and the witch hunt ceases.
The current administration has fired and suspended several "hard working" union representatives simply because they did not support Kim Cordova when she sought election. Many of these Union representatives have 10-20 years of experience. Ms. Cordova sent a memo to staff stating the [sic] "anyone who undermines the current administration will be fired!" At recent unemployment hearing of one of the departed staff, the officer reviewing the case deemed "UFCW as a hostile work environment."
A true leader gains respect from staff with hard work and fairness, not threats and intimidation.
Current leadership is not firing or pursuing grievances for workers at the Swift Meat Packing Plant.
Current leadership is ignoring the Union Staff Contract and due process rights.
Ms. Cordova removed a long time steward because he did not agree with some of her policies.
Hackers Break into Local 7 EMail System, Send Fake Message to Members
President Kim Cordova invites ALL members to Tuesday meeting to discuss independant [sic] audit, ask questions
URGENT FYI All Local 7 Members
To: Local 7 members of the "Constant Contact" E-Mail blast list.
On Friday afternoon, March 4, about 1:10 PM, someone hacked into UFCW Local 7's "Constant Contact" blast email service and sent a message entitled "Broken Promises."
That message did NOT come from Local 7, but from disgruntled former employees who hacked unto [sic] the email system in a failed attempt to cause political division and hurt your union.
President Cordova invites ALL members to attend the monthly meeting Tuesday, March 9, at 7:00 PM at the Union Hall to discuss the findings of an extensive independent audit and answer questions.
Bottom line: The "Broken Promises" email is a fake. It came from someone who broke into the union's system, not from Local 7.
Please be at the Tuesday evening meeting to learn the facts revealed in the independent audit first hand.
We have tightened security on the email system, but it is possible we will behacked again.
If you get more "Constant Contact" messages from Local 7, please know that they may not be authentic.
Thanks and regards,
Dave Minshall, Communications Director UFCW Local 7