Solidarity action stops WinCo Foods anti-worker lawsuit

It was not enough for WinCo Foods (Kent, WA) just to fire John J, their lowly employee who had the nerve to discuss pay and working conditions with his coworkers. They also decided to sue him.

When they fired John, back in November ’08, the best excuse management could come up with was his alleged “theft” of a packet of ranch sauce – price: 38 cents – with which he had flavored his fully paid-for snack in the break room one day. At the time, although he was outraged at their dishonesty, John decided he’d had enough of working for WinCo and moved on to bigger and better things, including getting involved in supporting fellow workers and tenants through the Seattle Solidarity Network. But WinCo was still not finished with him. The company’s lawyers began sending him letters threatening to sue him unless he paid them $200 compensation for the 38-cent sauce packet.

In response, 14 of us went with him into the office of the company’s top local manager, Lori Lulay, to deliver a message: withdraw, in writing, your legal threats against John, or else you will have a conflict with the Solidarity Network.

Over two weeks went by, and they did not do so.  Next, a few of us joined John for a small rain-soaked evening picket at WinCo on Easter Sunday, which got a lot of attention from both customers and the company. The following Saturday we held a larger picket during the peak shopping hours of the week, with signs and flyers saying “Don’t Shop Here!” and “Leave John Alone!”.

Finally, the message got through to the chain’s corporate office in Idaho. On Saturday, April 25 2009, John received a letter from WinCo in which the company officially dropped all charges against him.