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UFCW Members Assaulted

Written by Bill Pearson Friday, 18 August 2006

(Warning,: Reading this may be offensive to some, please continue at your own risk).

The Irony Of It All...

In the fall of 2005, UFCW 588 candidate for local union president Doug Slaydon was terminated by his employer Safeway. In Doug's words: I found myself suspended for saying the word crap on the way out to the sales floor. The company found Doug's use of the word crap so offensive they fired him. Seems a customer (more coming on that story as well), overheard the word and was so offended he reported it to a District manager who just happened to be in the building.

As ugly as that story was, this piece is far more dramatic and telling. It's just the irony of what they tried to hang Doug for is inescapable when you read the summary of events that took place at the Local 8 (old UFCW 588) membership meeting in August of this year.

Local 8 Biz Meeting... A Farcical Fiasco Foisted By Fools.

On Aug 8th 2006 six rank and file members from the bigger and better UFCW Local 8 - Golden State showed up to attend the quarterly business meeting at the Bakers and Painters Hall at 7125 Governors Circle, Sacramento Ca.

Like most biz union meetings, the crowd was sparse. Six members were present, four of them were activists from the Slaydon reform campaign, and with the other two being an Albertsons retiree and an Albertsons worker attending her first ever - union business meeting.

Anticipating problems from the Loveall led bunch, at least two members from the Slaydon reform campaign came prepared with tape recorders. It was a good thing they had them.

The meeting was scheduled to start at 8:00 pm. All six were at the front door of the hall at 7:50 pm. What we found was a street full of gas guzzling SUV's parked in front of the union hall and a locked door. The door was finally open by a local 8 staff person at about 7:55 pm. Imagine our surprise when we entered and the room was already full. We estimate there were about 40 officers and staff from local 8 present.

Obviously their early arrival and locked doors were intentional, they wanted time to arrange the seating and go over their game plan. No matter how or where we sat, there was a local 8 staff person looking over our shoulders. Clearly they were expecting us. From the minute we entered the room the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife!

The meeting started and within minutes vice president and grievance director Joe Ciotti made a motion to waive the reading of the minutes from the April 13, 2006 business meeting The motion was quickly seconded as the officers and staff stood in support.

The four members from the Slaydon reform team opposed the motion. Doug Slaydon and others had tried to make a motion at the April meeting but were told by vice president Joe Ciotti that they were not allowed to make motions! A long time Safeway worker stood and attempted to make his point why the minutes from the April meeting should be read. He wanted to make sure the April minutes reflected what happened at that meeting.

While trying to make his point to Jacques Loveall, the Safeway worker was screamed at by vice president Joe Ciott and told to shut up and sit down. By this time two of the tape recorders had been turned on. Doug Slaydon and another member argued in their Safeway brother's defense. The intensity in the room ratcheted up several notches.

Vice president and grievance director John Heise was seated behind Doug Slaydon. Heise is handling Doug Slaydon's suspicious termination from Safeway. John is the one who presented the arbitration for Doug's case (which is way over-due for a ruling). From the minute we walked into the room John was treating Doug with absolute disrespect. It was obvious the hatred John and others in the room had for Doug.

The air went out of the room when Jacques Loveall openly announced, There is an outside force trying to destroy the local and he vowed to destroy this force. Was he possibly talking about us?

Jacques proceeded to speak on issues of his agenda. John Heise noticed that Doug and another member had tape recorders and he stood up and got Jacques attention and made him aware of the recorders; the entire room broke out in havoc! Officers and staff were screaming at Doug and the other member to turn of the recorders. When it appeared the recorders were off, Jacques Loveall stood at the podium while on the microphone and called Doug a sleazy son of a bitch

Seconds after that, vice president Joe Ciotti exploded in an angry rage. He shoved a chair, then posturing himself in a very threatening manor, he screamed at Doug Slaydon that he was a fucking cock sucker. John Heise (remember, the grievance director handling Doug's arbitration) stood up towering behind Doug calling him a fucking asshole. Doug looking directly at Joe Ciotti and replied, Now that's classy.

One Slaydon reform member was so outraged at what was happening, he stood and left the meeting (with tape recorder in hand). The treatment was so abusive he would not stay in the room and take that from his union representatives and officers.

When the room quieted down, the woman from Albertson's ( not involved with the Slaydon reform campaign in any way), who was at her first union business meeting ever, raised her hand to speak. She explained to Jacques this was her first meeting and then asked him are we not suppose to all be on the same team here? Jacques, struggling to maintain some kind of control over the meeting, led the room filled with his cronies into a mass applause for the woman's statement. When the applause quieted the woman continued to speak. She said; if she were to use that kind of language while at here job she would be fired on the spot. She went on to say; she had never been so offended in her life. The entire room went silent!

Jacques was looking rattled by this time. His hands were shaking while trying to drink water to ale his drying mouth and he was stuttering some while trying to put sentences together; he was definitely losing control. Jacques finally finished speaking on his agenda when Doug raised his hand and stated, he had new business. He reluctantly acknowledged him and asked what he wanted. Doug replied that he would like to make a motion. In the blink of an eye, Loveall told him he was out of order.

An Albertsons worker, also a member of the Slaydon reform team, became annoyed with the double standards between officers and rank n file members. He asked Jacques why was it ok for vice president Ciotti to make a motion but when rank and file member Doug Slaydon tried to make a motion he was ruled out of order? Jacques gave this Albertson worker no answer - just a smirk!

Slaydon again raised his hand to speak. He asked Jacques if these meetings are run by parliamentary procedure? Jacques nervously hesitated answering the question, then finally replied I run these meetings appropriately.

A retired Albertsons worker, who had been silent for the entire meeting. politely stood and asked Jacques is this union a democracy? Jacques assured him that yes it was. The retiree then asked Jacques when was the time elections for his office was? Jacques appearing very nervous and struggling for control replied, It was July 2005.

With the Slaydon team being very familiar with the 2005 LM2 reports for UFCW local 588 (see groceryworkers.org/your_rights), they knew this statement by Jacques was untrue.

The Albertsons worker from the Slaydon team again questioned Jacques. He asked him if in July of 2005, were members notified by letter of the coming elections for officers? Jacques grew increasingly more nervous stating, Yes members were sent lettersThe Albertsons worker replied to Jacques, he found it odd in that he never received a letter like that. Jacques looking like a kid with his hands caught in the cookie jar replied you need to get on the mailing list. The Albertson worker shot back, I have been a member for a lot of years and I get everything else the union sends, why wouldn't I get that? Jacques had no answer!

The questioning continued as the long-time member asked Jacques, Are past letters sent to members kept on file at the union hall? Jacques obviously not thinking responded, Yes.The Albertson worker asked Jacques how he could obtain a copy of this letter? Jacques completely frazzled abruptly told him to contact his office.

Jacques at this time quickly moved to adjourn the meeting! As the Slaydon team exited the building they were followed closely by some of the Local 8 officers and staff. It was a classic example of their intimidation tactics.

Why not, it's a technique that has been used for years by the Loveall's against rank and file members who have been demanding accountability and democracy within their union.

We must not forget this wasn't the first time that the Loveall's unleashed their Sopranos wannabe's Joe Ciotti and John Heise on rank and file members in good standing. This isn't the first time these tactics have been used, (please see the Jack Nordby story).

One little note to Jacques and his boys! There just may have been a third recorder in the room you just didn't know about. Technology, isn't it a wonderful thing?

Let's recap these two tales of intrigue: Doug is fired for saying the word crap as he was coming out of the meat back-room and this customer heard him and was offended. On the other side of the ledger, we have these reported statements directed at dues paying members of local 8 that included the following: A sleazy son of a bitch. A fucking cock sucker. And finally, A fucking asshole. Throw in the member who was told to sit down and shut up and the member at her first union meeting and you get quite an interesting perspective on why members are trying to take back their union.

If you thought the ELECTION/merger was a shameless act by the leadership of the UFCW; where, how would one ever begin to characterize this incredible behavior on the part of the local 8 leadership? As you have read, the details of this are a first hand narrative submitted by some of those in attendance. Because this is so inflammatory a story, we invite some of those in attendance to submit their rebuttals or disclaimers. We also would suggest a mutually agreed to condition of lie detectors being an acceptable method of determining accuracy. If that fails to be agreeable, we have several other means of arriving at the truth... up to and including tape recordings and written statements.

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