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Updated On: May 13, 2009

The Real Thing

Former WinCo Employee Discovers Value of a Union.

Tom Channel thought he had a good job when he found work as a Meat Cutter at WinCo in Elk Grove. Unfortunately, when he was unfairly fired, he wasn’t able to seek justice through a grievance and arbitration procedure.

Channel, who is married and has four children ranging in age from six months to 8 years old, had worked at WinCo for almost five years. He was months away from being vested in the company’s pension plan when he was dismissed.

“I was an exemplary employee,” he said. “I was never verbally disciplined or written up for anything in the time I was there. I was even picked for the management training program and was on track to be a supervisor.”

Channel’s troubles began when two employees got into a fight while he was in charge of his department after the manager had left for the day.

“Two guys started to verbally abuse each other,” Channel said. “I got between them before anything physical happened, and it all ended kind of quickly when the one who started it stormed out.”

Channel said he followed company procedures. He reported the incident to his store manager who subsequently spoke to employees who witnessed the incident.

The next day, Channel was called to a meeting with the store manager, the regional supervisor and a representative from the Human Resources Department.

“I thought I was going to be asked about the fight,” Channel said. “But the store manager said that ‘serious allegations’ had been made against me and that I was being let go.”

Both of the employees involved in the altercation were fired. Channel believes that one or both of them made false allegations against him because they blamed him for their dismissal.

Tom Channel
Former WinCo Employee

 “I know I did the right thing and followed all company procedures,” Channel said. “I believe the real reason I was let go was because I was approaching my fifth anniversary of employment and would have been vested in the pension plan.

“Very few non-management workers get vested in the plan, because the company finds a reason to fire them before their five years are up,” he continued. “It happened to a good friend of mine.”

That friend now works at FoodsCo in a position covered by a UFCW 8 contract. He suggested Channel contact the Union for help.

“UFCW 8 has been great,” Channel said. “I’ve been reporting to the Union hall and have had several weeks where I’ve gotten five days of work.”

Channel said he hopes to land a permanent Union job. “I know from firsthand experience how important it is to have a job covered by a Union contract,” he said.

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