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Company Illegally Barred Two Unions’ Solicitation And Distribution Activity

In Albertson’s Inc. v. United Food and Commercial Workers, 332 N.L.R.B. No. 104 (2000), the Board decided Albertson’s Inc., a grocery store chain in Oregon and Washington, committed unfair labor practices when it barred to unions from distributing handbills outside one of its stores.  Albertson’s  had a no-solicitation/no-distribution policy that provided non-employees “may not solicit, distribute literature or use sound devices on company premises at any time.”  When members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 582 began an organizing campaign at one of the stores, Albertson’s notified the members they were in violation of the store’s policy.

Previously, Albertson’s allowed the Salvation Army, Boys Scouts, Girls Scouts, veterans groups and  and organizations to solicit donations and sales.  It has also previously allowed UFCW to solicit employees inside and outside new stores.  In the past, the NLRB has carved out an exception allowing a small number of isolated charitable acts, but found these acts by Albertson’s exceeded that exception.  Instead, the Board found Albertson’s discriminated against the Union, by denying its members access to its property, while granting permission to other groups.  This conduct violated  Section 8(a)(1) of the Act. 

This case reinforces the idea that employers should have a solicitation/distribution rule.   If you as an employer do not have such a rule, you should consider implementing one.  Once implemented, it is imperative that it is consistently enforced.  Not only will this help maintain positive employee relations, it will help to ensure compliance with the Act by not discriminating against unions or any other groups.