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Labor & Worker Rights Thu Apr 22 2010

Students, Organizers Accuse Pete's Fresh Market Management of Spying

Workers at Pete's Fresh Market claim their employer continues to harass workers involved in a union organizing drive, accusing management of spying on organizers and students at a meeting at UIC last week.

Last month, GB covered the fight between Pete's owners and pro-union workers in which former and current employees are alleging unfair labor practices, sexual harassment, and national origin discrimination, claiming multiple employees have been fired for trying to organize a union with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 881. Pete's denies all the claims.

Representatives from the union and and supportive community organizations gathered in front of the Southwest Side Pete's at 43rd and Pulaski today and alleged that Pete's management spied on a meeting of the Mexican Students de Aztlan (MESA) at UIC with union organizers, videotaping their meeting without their consent in order to know what the union was up to.


Antonio Boyzo, a senior at UIC and co-chair of MESA, said organizers have worked closely with his group on the campaign and came to a general meeting to give an update. One unidentified person was standing near the back of the room--Antonio said he "had his iPhone out the entire meeting."

"We didn't realize he was taping us until the end," Boyzo said

According to Boyzo and other MESA members, union representatives questioned the man, who said his name was Rodrigo, and that he lived in Argentina for 19 years but spoke no Spanish.

Organizers identified the man as Petros Dremonas, a nephew of the owner of Pete's Fresh Market. As students recounted their story, they pointed to a man exiting the store and watching the press conference, identifying him as Dremonas.

When I called Pete's and asked to speak with Dremonas, a manager who did not give his name refused, saying it "wasn't necessary" and dismissing workers' claims as "fabrications and lies, for certain entities to gain...I don't know what." The manager also said Dremonas is a nephew of the owner but is not a Pete's employee (though after calling Pete's main number, I was initially connected to him before he transferred my call).

Boyzo said there could only be one reason for the videotaping.

"He was there to spy, to see what we were up to."

Moises Zavala, organizing director of Local 881, agreed.

"They are spying on supporters because they don't want to see their employees organized," he said.

Zavala noted that Pete's is going in front of the zoning commission tomorrow to get permission to continue work on a new store on Madison and Western. He said he hopes the city will consider the alleged union-busting before granting the company their needed permits.

"Any company that is abusing the rights of workers and spying on community or student groups needs to shape up and respect the communities where they operate before they're granted permission to expand."

Maria D. Amezcua, chair of the Latino chapter of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Rescue and Development Federation of Coahuila, said she'll only be back to Pete's for protests, not groceries.

"We're never returning to Pete's to buy anything. If they don't stop mistreating workers, we're going to stop supporting them," she stated.

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mia / July 19, 2010 7:56 PM

This movement is so absurd, dishonest and misleading. I shop at Pete's and almost the entire staff and managers are Hispanic at the store where Your children and grandchildren will be even worse off with fewer freedoms. Don't make yourself the victim; don't be used by the leftist. How's that working out for most of the Central and South American countries under dictatorships? shop. If the Hispanics(or any other group or person)doesn't want to work where there's no labor union, then quit! Go to a business that is unionized. There's many, many people I know who would love to have their jobs. With the Chicago unemployment at approx. 13%, your motives are suspect. You should be down on your knees thanking God for your job and the opportunities the U.S. provides. Hispanics come here because their own mother country isn't providing jobs, peace, and the education they need to prosper. Shame on your government. Why aren't you protesting there and demanding your citizens rights there? Why aren't you demanding Mexico to provide you and your family with your God given rights of freedom?

If you were working at a unionized job, what would change? More security? Better pay? More opportunities? Please educate yourselves! You're being used to solidify the Progessive base. Your union dues are being used to make millionaries out of your leaders. Wake up! Be part of the American dream. If you buy in to this socialism/communism, you'll be a slave to the "state/government" forever.

ana / July 21, 2010 11:52 PM

O my god Mia is carezy... god sve her soul

ana / July 21, 2010 11:53 PM

craezy, craezy Mia. rest in peace

Kristin / August 25, 2010 5:19 PM

Wow MIA really can't put the bigger picture together huh? I don't even know where to begin in her convoluted rant and so I'm not going to.

Just because workers aren't born in the United States does not mean they are not entitled to respect in their workplace. Or should be treated any differently- that's discrimination.

And I'm sure employers would all love for us to "thank god we have a job and not ask for anything more" but we've been doing that for too long and now some of the very important things working people have won are slowly being erased. Those with the power aren't going to share. Point blank. Every gain for working people has been fought for, people have died for, and people will continue to fight for.

Juan Gomez / July 27, 2011 10:50 AM

It's not about race... It's about the communities Pete's is operating in, if a business cant give employees the freedom to make important decitions and the community what they need, why should the community support the business?. I NEVER shopped at Pete's and never will. Pete's fresh market owners, sound like a bunch of unfair fucks!. and there negative actions and spying on students is lowwwww business ethics, there actions reflect the way they operate....unfair.**A MESSAGE FOR PETE'S FRESH MARKET OWNERS...'IF YOU DONT LIKE HISPANIC COMMUNITIES THEN KEEP YOUR BUSINESS AWAY FROM THE HIPANIC COMMUNITY, WHY DO YOU GUYS KEEP EXPANDING IN HISPANIC COMMUNITIES?..LOL, MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE THE HISPANIC MARKET IS HUGE! $$$

george jefferson / January 28, 2012 9:21 PM

Petes is very cheap company and they only pay the meat cutter8-9 dollars a hour and have them cutting thousands pounds of meat a day only 1 break a day and the mangers talk to like crap especially william ware and petro and owner george they are gready make alot of money but dont pay and only have a hand full of african americans and white americans working there s they mess up youre check all the time on pourpose they only have one black manager out of 8 stores and dont matter how much experince u got only 9 dollars a hour they r unfair and even have cameras in employees break facilitys fuck petes fresh market most of the meat is two months old before its cutt and dropped on the floor at times

maria / January 30, 2012 10:11 AM

I used to work for petes but i quit after the managers started treating me unfairly. My husband still works there and is constantly stessed by the way he ia treated by the managers. He has years of pay stubs with hundreds of hours of overtime which not 1 hour has been paid as overtime. I've told him several times that we should take action and demand what is legally his,but he refuses. He believes that if he is fired that because of the crisis we are in he will be unable to find work someplace else. As an ex employee at pete's market i have witnessed the bad treatment, the discrimination, and how managers devalue the employees. Mia you have responded and accused workers of being ignorant and to blame the government of their countries. Well of YOU knew anything at all and were at all educated about central and south american countries, then you would know that the united states government has played a huge role in keeping those countries the way they are. Get educated! Read a book! Do some research before you talk because those ignorant workers as you call them arw smart enough to fight for what is legally theirs.

anonymous / August 26, 2012 7:23 AM

Maria since you used to work in petes fresh market how was the break time there?
Do they let you buy outside or they give you lunch? Where they eat there lunch do guys and girls mix together meaning that they can interact with other female or male workers or are they separated.? i am planning to apply but want to know before i go

Arthur / December 31, 2012 11:39 AM

When I was I high school I worked for Petes Market For Several Yers and I had the Oppurtunity to Meet the Owner the Managers and the working environment was great! The vice president would mentor me and give me advice on Business and life! There was no abuse whatsoever I'm happy Petes Market has gone along way since I worked there and hope they keep working hard to compete with other grocers! They need to stop with all this Rainbow(Hispanic) push B.S they want to fight for a couple of dollars on their pay check so the Fat Cat Union Labors reek in Union Dues and Get rich! What's gonna happen is the 40 hour week of workers will turn into a 25 hour week the quality of the fruits Meat and the Cleanliness of the store will decade and for what for a few dollars on a paycheck not to mention the prices of the groceries will skyrocked this is obsurd! You guys need to understand Rainbow Push doesent apply to us Hispanic we were not victims of Slavery! The whole Cezar Chavez movement was about Grape workers and fair wages that's all! They need to stop with all this non sense! They give you a Hand and you want to take the whole Arm it's not how this works Sorry! finally Pete's is a Great Company Grocerie Store and the Unions need to stay away from the Grocerie stores and concentrate on Michigana and Indianas Right to Work Legislation and Unionize all the Skilled Trades they need to stick there nose where it applies not where they have no business!

yazmin / March 29, 2013 8:36 PM

How do I become a part of this organization I have people who worked there now that will love more info. I also have a few people that use to work for Petes and will love more info&maybe become a part of this organization.

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