Union Avoidance at Sid’s Market (Case)

Sid’s Market is an upscale supermarket that caters to a clientele living in the prosperous suburbs of Chicago’s North Shore. Although most of the supermarkets in the Chicago area are unionized, Sid’s market has been able to avoid unions by matching unionized markets’ pay and benefits. Sid Clark, founder and owner of Sid’s, has told store manager Lee Shaw that one of her top priorities should be discouraging union organization at the market. Clark is convinced that if the store is unionized, it will lose its “family” environment and become a bureaucratic, impersonal market like the other major food chains in Chicago.

Recently, Shaw became aware that the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union is attempting to organize Sid’s market. In trying to discourage the UFCW, she took the following actions to implement Sid’s union avoidance strategy:

  • She monitored all employees to make sure they were not soliciting for the union on company time. She disciplined two courtesy clerks who were wearing UFCW buttons on their clothing and told them to remove the buttons. Another courtesy clerk in the store was wearing a button that said “Go Bulls” in support of the Chicago basketball team, but Shaw did not reprimand him.
  • The UFCW wrote to Shaw and asked her to provide a list of the names and addresses of all the employees who work at Sid’s market. Shaw refused to do so.
  • Shaw set up small group meetings of store employees on company time to explain why Sid’s Market would be much better off without a union.
  • Shaw instructed the market’s security guards to ask the union organizers who are not employed at Sid’s to stop handing out union literature to employees as they enter and leave the market. When the union organizers ignored this request, the guards escorted them off the market property and confiscated their literature.

A few weeks after these four incidents, Shaw received a letter from the National Labor Relations Board indicating that the UFCW had accused Sid’s market of engaging in unfair labor practices designed to prevent employees from forming a union.

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Which of these four incidents is the NLRB most likely to view as unfair labor practices? Why?
  2. Which of these four incidents is the NLRB not likely to consider unfair labor practices? Why?
  3. What could Lee Shaw have done differently to operate within the law that governs union-organizing activities?


Fully answer the three (3) critical thinking questions.